BBC historians headline Gloucester’s Aethelflaed Talks



Dr Janina Ramirez and Tom Holland, two of the BBC’s most popular history broadcasters, will be speaking at Gloucester’s Aethelflaed celebrations marking the 1100th anniversary of the Queen of Mercia’s death.


They will be part of a series of talks at the medieval Blackfriars Priory on Sunday 10 June. The series starts with Aethelflaed & Gloucester: The Golden Minster with Carolyn Heighway and Michael Hare (3pm). It will be followed by Women Warlords and Warrior Queenswith Janina Ramirez (5pm) with Tom Holland’s Aethelflaed: England’s Founding Motherfinishing off the triple bill of fascinating talks.


Dr Janina Ramirez is a popular historian, author and broadcaster. She has degree in English literature at Oxford, followed by an MA and PhD at the Centre for Medieval Studies in York on the art, literature and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. Her TV work includes Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons, Saints and Sinners, and Architecture of the Divine– a series which opened with a grand sweeping shot of Gloucester Cathedral. Janina is also the president of the annual Gloucester History Festival.


Tom Holland in another familiar face on the BBC’s history programming. He is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Making Historyand is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC and in 2016 wrote a history of Æthelstan, who was the nephew of Aethelflaed and raised in her court.


Janina and Tom will be joined by archaeologist Carolyn Heighway and historian Michael Hare, who uncovered many treasures from the ruins of Aethelflaed’s Golden Minster (now St Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester).


Dr Janina Ramirez, said: “Warrior, diplomat, daughter of Alfred the Great, mother to a queen, Aethelflaed is one of my greatest heroines. She’s one of the nation’s most important medieval women who shaped the course of history and deserves to be better known! I can’t wait to come and celebrate her life and spread the word about such a powerful and fascinating woman.”


Richard Graham, Gloucester History Trust Chair, said:“Gloucester History Festival are thrilled to be working with our partners on this exciting weekend of events. The Blackfriars Talks about Aethelflaed will shed masses of light on this remarkable little known Queen of Mercia and her role in our national story.”


Blackfriars Talks Programme:



After a series of intriguing digs, archaeologist Carolyn Heighway and historian Michael Hare revealed St Oswald’s Priory as the church built by Aethelflaed and the place where she was buried. The extraordinary works of art they unearthed – truly worthy of a royal mausoleum – include the ornate grave-cover which may have lain over the tomb of the Warrior Queen herself. They explore the inside story of the excavations, their important new discoveries and tell the fascinating Anglo-Saxon tale of St Oswald’s – a church so famous for its wealth, its glory and its miracles, it was nicknamed ‘the Golden Minster’.



From Boudica to Joan of Arc, Viking ‘Shield-maidens’ to female Admirals, there’s a fascinating hidden history of warrior women to discover and a powerful mythology to explore. Join bestselling historian and BBC4 broadcaster Janina Ramirez for an intriguing illustrated journey. From Aethelflaed, the original Anglo-Saxon ‘Iron Lady’, to the extraordinary new DNA discoveries casting the Viking ‘Shield-maidens in a dramatic new light, she paints a vivid and passionate picture of women warlords through the ages.



The formation of England occurred against the odds: an island divided into rival kingdoms, under savage assault from Viking hordes. King Alfred ensured the survival of Wessex and his son Edward expanded it, his grandson Athelstan conquered Northumbria and was hailed as ‘King of the whole of Britain’. But what role did Aethelflaed play? Leading historian Tom Holland, author of Athelstan: The Making of England, explores the story with relish and drama, transporting us back to a time of omens, raven harbingers and blood-red battlefields. Making sense of the family rivalries and fractious conflicts, he tells how a royal dynasty rescued their kingdom from near-oblivion and fashioned a nation that endures to this day.


Gloucester’s Aethelflaed celebrations on 9 – 12 June 2018 have been made possible thanks to joint Great Place funding from the Heritage Lottery and Arts Council, Gloucester City Council and Gloucester Business Improvement District; with events organised by Marketing Gloucester, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester Civic Trust, Gloucester Culture Trust, Gloucester History Festival and the Museum of Gloucester.


Tickets are on sale now for £5 each or for the special price of £12 for all three talks at from Gloucester Tourist Information Centre (01452 396572).


Book signings have been organised by Waterstones.


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