Aethelflaed, Lady Of Mercia, Is Honored In A Funeral Procession 1,100 Years After Her Death

A mock funeral procession led from the Gloucester Docks to St. Oswald's Priory, where the Lady of Mercia is reported to be buried.

St Oswald's Priory in Gloucester, home of Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia
John Armagh / Public domain / cropped and resized / Wikimedia Commons

A mock funeral procession led from the Gloucester Docks to St. Oswald's Priory, where the Lady of Mercia is reported to be buried.

Aethelflaed was also known as Lady of the Mercians. A ruler who helped hold back the Viking invasions at Gloucester, she was recently honored in a mock funeral procession, 1,100 years after her death.

The funeral procession took place on June 9 in Gloucester as part of “a weekend-long series of living history events telling her story,” according to the BBC. As reported previously by the Inquisitr, organizers of the event were on the search for a “tall and flaxen-haired” woman to play the role of Aethelflaed.

Local amateur actress Samantha Swinford won the competition and took part in the funeral procession which saw Swinford, as Aethelflaed, being taken by palanquin from a Viking longboat at the Gloucester Docks through the streets of the city of Gloucester and then onto St. Oswald’s Priory, where the real Aethelflaed is supposed to be buried.

Gloucester Shire Live released the following video of the mock funeral, beginning with the arrival of Aethelflaed by longship at the docks.

Samantha Swinford was excited about the win and the opportunity to portray the powerful woman.

“When I first saw the call for a tall, flaxen-haired woman to play Aethelflaed I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to be involved in,” she revealed. “I had previously heard about her anyway as she was such a powerhouse leader at a time during the time of the Vikings invasions.”

The spectacle drew in approximately 10,000 onlookers. Once the procession arrived at St. Oswald’s Priory, a speech was made by Rev. Canon Nikki Arthy about the famous Mercian.

Ben Hau from Marketing Gloucester, also commented on the event.

“It’s been a wonderful experience bringing history to life, firing the imaginations of people young and old. The turnout at the docks and throughout the city center for the mock funeral was fantastic, with so many people wanting to catch a glimpse of Gloucester’s warrior queen.”

Aethelflaed was born in 870 AD and was the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great. She ruled in Mercia, a kingdom in England, from approximately 911 AD through to her death seven years later. During this time, Aethelflaed managed to help protect Gloucester from further Viking attacks. She even had to evade a Viking attack on her wedding day.

As well as this historical event, a statue has been issued to stand in the Mercian location of Tamworth, according to Metro. Black Country artist Luke Perry created the six-meter tall statue of Aethelflaed. Perry told Metro that he thought Aethelflaed was an important historical figure.

“We all remember Boadicea but Aethelflaed was arguably the more important historical figure, she was allowed to rule Mercia after her husband Aethelred died in 911 and went on to fight the Irish and the Vikings.”

Along with the mock funeral procession honoring Aethelflaed, a geophysical survey was also taken of St. Oswald’s Priory in an effort to locate the original royal palace of Aethelflaed and her husband. Volunteers had been requested to help out with this survey ahead of archaeologists moving into the area.