Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who Are All These Kings?: Elfward

Elfward, born in 904, was the second son of Edward the Elder’s second wife Elfleda.

He is a shadowy figure who is usually ignored when lists of Kings are compiled.

His brother Edwin had been made King of the revived sub-kingdom of Kent, and seems to have been happy to continue in that position without wishing to succeed his father.

When Edward died in 924, there was some dispute as to who would succeed him.

Wessex chose Elfward, who had been living as a hermit in one of the caves at Bridgnorth.

Mercia, however, chose the older Athelstan, who had been brought up in the court of his father’s sister Ethelfleda, the Lady of the Mercians.

Elfward, reluctant to be King but prepared to do his duty, started travelling to Winchester for his coronation, but suddenly died when he had reached Oxford. He had been King for sixteen days.

There is a strong suspicion that he was murdered on the orders of Athelstan. Whatever the truth, Athelstan then became King of Edward’s entire realm.

Elfward was buried at Winchester Cathedral.