Tag: Aethelflaed

Research for Aethelflaed

A grid of pictures - three of items from the Staffordshire Hoard, and one sketch of the burgh symbol on the obverse of some coins minted in Mercia during Aethelflaed's rule.

I think I’m going to try to do Aethelflaed next.

At the moment, my thought is to have her riding (side-saddle) towards the refortification works at Chester (which is where I grew up). I looked up “side-saddle”, owing to having some doubts about how recent or not it might be, and the history and techniques of riding sidesaddle seem more complex than would at first appear.

Of course they are.

There’s the technique you probably think of first, with a leg hooked up and the rider facing forwards (think Queen Elizabeth II riding Burmese to Trooping The Colour, way back when). The development of that design is credited to Anne of Bohemia, Richard II’s Queen, so it would be anachronistic, to say the least, for Aethelflaed. However… The older style is more like a chair set on the horse’s back, with a footboard, and the rider faces sidesways. Generally the horse is then lead, either by a someone on foot, or by another rider, but I simply cannot imagine Aethelflaed not being under her own steam, as it were. I suspect that she would just have a really voluminous skirt or a slit skirt or even just wear men’s clothing and ride astride. But that would not create the image I want, so I’m going to have to balance storytelling with other concerns. Well, that’s part of what is interesting to me, so that’s ok!

A grid of sketches of some of the patterns seen on items from the Hoard. They were done in a museum, in front of the real thing, which is much tinier than the photos you see suggest, so they are scrappy and inaccurate, but they might still help.

I had a lovely day out a little while ago to see the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition at the Museum in Stoke on Trent. It’s the closest source I can find for patterns that I might be able to use, and although none of these sketches or photos will be useable directly, I can, for example, imagine taking the style of that processional cross in the grid at the top, sketched in the grid to the side here, and using that at the cardinal points of the border.

I’m also wondering about taking one of the patterns from the pieces in the Hoard, and turning it into a border design, somehow. That might make everything a bit busy, so, more thought needed…