Announcement Date: 14th August 2015
After the Roman Legions left Britain in the latter part of the 4th Century, much of the land cleared for farming would have reverted to heath and scrub. The clay soils made paths impassable in winter but the river would have provided a permanent route from the coast. It is believed that tribes of Angles colonised the area around Coleshill in the 6th and 7th Centuries, travelling from the north via the rivers Trent and Tame. Other invaders followed and seven kingdoms were formed, the area of the Tame Valley lying within the Kingdom of Mercia.
Tamworth was the principal royal and administrative centre for the Mercian kings from the 7th to 9th Centuries including the reign of King Offa (c 757 – 796 AD). It was destroyed by Vikings in 874 but rebuilt and fortified in 913 by Aethelfleda. No traces of the royal palace survive today. The town’s street pattern demonstrates active planning and follows the grid pattern model of other Saxon burhs.
Many place names date from this period, for example, Curdworth evolved from Credeword ‘Creda’s Settlement’. The original settlement was a Saxon clearing near the river Tame. The Saxons cleared many of the settlements we know today, setting the boundaries of many of the villages. Christianity became widespread and churches were built. In the 10th Century the land was organised into ‘hundreds’ for the purposes of local government and law giving, the term ‘hundred’ relating the 100 hides of land, a hide being between 60 and 120 acres, deemed sufficient to support a family.