Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen – FREE exhibition until Jan 2015

Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen
Leamington Spa Pump Rooms – until 11 January 2015


Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen, the popular exhibition on show this summer in St Mary’s Church, Warwick, has now moved to Leamington Spa. It is on show in Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum in the Royal Pump Rooms until Sunday 11 January 2015.

Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen was created as part of the programme of events celebrating the 1100th anniversary of foundation of Warwick. The exhibition presents the story behind the foundation of a fortress at Warwick in AD 914 by Aethelflaed, ruler of Anglo-Saxon Mercia.

Aethelflaed - Worcester Cathedral

Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, is a stained glass window in Worcester Cathedral


It was one of several strongholds constructed to secure her kingdom in the west midlands before she set about the re-conquest of the east midlands from the Danish Vikings. The success of this campaign won her a reputation as a great ‘Warrior Queen’ and ensured that Warwick played a significant part in the formation of England.

Bidford Bobble

9th century gold ‘aestel’ found near Bideford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. This was used to hold the pointer stick for following the words on Dark Age manuscripts. It is often called the Bidford Bobble.

The exhibition raises the question of whether this was truly the origins of today’s town, though. What is the evidence for earlier Dark Age settlement – perhaps even an early Christian minster? And what about the claim, drawn from myth, that Warwick was founded before the Romans and became home to warrior heroes like the giant-slaying Sir Guy of Warwick? Entry to the exhibition in Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum is free.

Warwick’s myths and history are explored in greater detail in an associated book by J R Watkin, also called Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen. This costs £5.00 and is available in the Royal Pump Rooms and local bookshops. Early Warwick can also be explored by following a walking trail, Warwick in the Dark Ages: A Walk Through Myth & History. This is available at the Royal Pump Rooms, and can also be downloaded from the building’s website. To find out more about Dark Age Warwick & the Warrior Queen visit: www.warwickdc.gov.uk/royalpumprooms

1 Warwick - Speed 1610 - Kelly

John Speed’s map of Warwick in 1610. The Dark Age town probably occupied the same area.

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