A LEADING historian and podcast host Tom Holland will be the keynote speaker to open new Athelstan Pilgrim Way – and his talk will also form part of Malmesbury’s events to celebrate the Athelstan 1100 anniversary this summer.

Tom, who published his biography ‘Athelstan’ in 2016, will be presenting his talk ‘On The Trail of the First King of England: Why Athelstan Deserves Pilgrims’ at Malmesbury Abbey at 2pm on Sunday, June 30. 

His talk will be a ticket-only event and all proceeds will go towards the development and operation of the new Athelstan Pilgrim Way – Tom is the patron of the project.

He said: “It will be no secret to anyone who has listened to my podcast, The Rest Is History, that I championed Athelstan as the greatest of England’s monarchs…and I am also delighted to champion a walking route across his kingdom of Wessex that seeks to remind us of his Christian sensibility and the religious culture of his time.”

Following Tom’s talk on King Athelstan there will be an official opening of the new Athelstan Pilgrim Way, led by the Diocese of Bristol which will ultimately link 36 churches on a new 100 mile walking and cycling route across North Wiltshire.

Initially the Athelstan Pilgrim Way will link 13 walks taking in 13 churches in 2024 with more coming on stream in 2025.

The opening on June 30 will start at Malmesbury Abbey and will continue to St John The Baptist Church at Brokenborough.

Malmesbury Town Team chair, Cllr Campbell Ritchie, leads the team of volunteers who are organizing the Athelstan 1100 programme of events.

He said: “We’re thrilled that Tom is able to take time from his busy schedule to join us and celebrate not only the opening of the Athelstan Pilgrim Way but also the celebrations for Athelstan 1100.

"It’s an honour to welcome him and our other renowned historians including Michael Wood and the Reverend Sarah Foot.”