Battle is on to commemorate Flodden on its 500th anniversary

interest in the 500th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Flodden in 2013 is beginning to grow and the group leading the project have organised a series of workshops to update people on progress so far and give them the opportunity to add their ideas.

Over the past few months interested groups on both sides of the England/Scotland border have been meeting to discuss raising the profile of the battle area near Branxton on the English side, resulting in plans for an eco-museum - a museum without walls which will connect the built, natural and cultural threads that are part of the Flodden story across Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

This ‘eco-museum’ will link over 10 physical sites with strong associations with Flodden, including: Flodden Field (battlefield walks, interpretation, website); Norham Castle (besieged before the battle); Etal Castle (besieged/taken in 1513 complete with an exhibition of Border Warfare); Heatherslaw Corn Mill (mill working in 1513), Barmoor Castle (Surrey’s camp); Twizell Bridge (crucial river crossing point for English Army); Ladykirk Church (built by King James IV); Branxton Church (adjacent to the battle-site); Coldstream Museum; Coldstream Priory; Weetwood Bridge (river crossing point) and The Fletcher Monument in Selkirk ( Selkirk monument erected in 1913 for the 400th anniversary).

EU Leader funding of £24,265 has been successfully applied for which will allow phase one of the project to get underway - establishing the web portal for the ‘Eco-museum’, signage for the initial sites connected with the battle, leaflets and other information led by project offices Chris Burgess and Jane Warcup.

The project team are also running a series of workshops to inform and encourage local people to get involved in this exciting venture and the quincentenary activities marking the Battle of Flodden in 2013.

The idea behind Flodden Eco Museum is to allow communities, projects, locations and events to retain their individual ownership but to be linked through a single brand, in this case the battle of Flodden and the 500th year commemoration in 2013.

A wide range of organisations from the public, private and voluntary sector (over 70) are already on board, such as the Coldstream 1513 Club, Coldstream Community Council etc and organisers are hoping to attract others who can offer their own perspective when it comes to marking this historical event, as part of a wider project.

The workshops scheduled to start next week will offer advice as to how this will work.

The events, which start at 5.30pm and finish around 7.30pm, will be held in locations across north Northumberland and the Borders:

Workshop dates: February 2, Glendale Gateway Trust, Wooler; February 9, Coldstream Community Centre, Coldstream; February 15, The Collingwood Arms, Cornhill on Tweed, (Cornhill/ Branxton); February 16, Black Bull, Lowick (Lowick/Ford/Barmoor); February 21, Salutation Inn, Shoreswood, Nr Norham (Duns/Ladykirk/Norham); February 22, County Hotel, Selkirk.

At each event project officers, Chris Burgess and Jane Warcup will be joined by other experts offering advice on a range of topics such as: eco-museums; funding sources; marketing and branding; interpretation and IT presentation on web portal (businesses, clubs and organisations); development workshop on new research (archaeology and history).

Coldstream & District History Society member James Bell has written a book on Flodden and has studied it for many years.

Explaining events and their historical importance he said: “The Battle of Flodden, or Branxton Moor as the English chroniclers called it, was the culmination of a short campaign by the Scots after their King, James 1V, declared war on England and its King, Henry VIII. The war became known as the Flodden war.

“At the Boroughmuir, the main Scots army were assembling, said by chroniclers of the time to number 100,000. This seems to be quite exaggerated, as the population of Scotland in 1513 was estimated to be only 500,000.

“Despite protestations from his Queen, James set off for the border, meeting the men of the Borders at Ellemford, just north of Duns.

“On August 21, James held his last Parliament on Scottish soil at Duns and on the 22nd, the Scottish army crossed the Tweed at Coldstream and Lennel.

“By invading England King James had broken the Treaty of Perpetual Peace.

“It is said King James got to within 10ft of Surrey before being killed by one of Surrey’s body guards, who fired an arrow through the King of Scots mouth.

“Around James fell almost the entire nobility of Scotland, and it is said, no household in Scotland did not feel the effects of Flodden. Darkness called a halt to the slaughter.

“Surrey berated his commanders for not winning the fight, however daylight revealed what was left of the Scots’ army had left the field, and the thousands of Scots’ dead, who had been stripped naked, littered the blood soaked ground.”

The Battle of Flodden proved a disaster for the Scots, as well as losing King James IV a whole generation of the country’s nobility was wiped out on Branxton Hill, September 9, 1513, when around 10,000 men lost their lives.

It hastened Scotland’s union with England, leaving the country exposed and leaderless.

Since the early 1950s the dead of both nations are remembered annually during the Flodden ride-out, the main event during Coldstream Civic Week when over 300 horses and riders follow the Coldstreamer and his right and left hand men across Coldstream Bridge and over to Flodden, where they lay a wreath at the Flodden memorial before galloping up Branxton Hill where it has become tradition for an oration to be given about the battle.

James Joicey of Ford & Etal Estates, has been heading the initiators group/steering group since 2008, and initial background work has been done by Peter Lewis, from Newcastle University’s International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies. Now they are widening the project out further as more individuals and groups express an interest in becoming involved.

A new documentary film about the Battle of Flodden is currently underway, as is the the acquisition of what will probably be the UK’s smallest Information Centre!

It is hoped to house the information centre in the old telephone box in Branxton. But while the telephone box may have a traditional appearance it will be high tech inside. The plan is that apps (computer software designed to help the user to perform singular or multiple related specific tasks) will be downloadable from internet access, givieng information about genealogical work and other activities.

Dr. David Caldwell from the National Museums of Scotland has indicated plans for an international conference on Flodden to be held in autumn 2011, possibly in Ford Castle.