New digs as Flodden gives up its secrets to volunteers

Flodden dig 2013
Flodden dig 2013

The 500th anniversary of Flodden may have passed, but the digging hasn’t stopped in the unravelling of the battle’s story.

This year the Flodden 1513 project will be carrying out excavations with help from local volunteers on both sides of the border.

Digs will take place at Wark Castle, Flodden Hill, Ladykirk and Ellemford near Duns, on dates throughout the spring and summer.

The first excavation of 2014 will be in the field to the west of Wark Castle on the south shore of the River Tweed, near Coldstream and Cornhill, on March 29.

This site was besieged and captured by James IV of Scotland in August 1513, early in his doomed invasion campaign, which ended with the wiping out of the Scottish army at Fl0dden.

During 2013 there were excavations at sites including Flodden Hill, Norham Castle, Ladykirk and on the Flodden Battlefield at Branxton.

Excavations at Norham were particularly productive, showing that the Castle there was almost twice the size it is now.

Chris Burgess, Archaeological Manager said: “Like at Norham we have had a new geophysical survey 
carried out which will highlight 
targets for excavation, and like Norham we are hoping to prove that the size of the Castle at Wark is almost twice what was previously 

Chris was able to show off a major find last year: a crown shaped piece of insignia, which is thought to have been a livery badge worn by a solider in the personal retinue of the Scottish King.

Chris added: “The help of the community volunteers was paramount in the excavation process.”

Community volunteers will be at the forefront of this new research, assisting with the geophysical surveys to be carried out early in March and also helping with the forthcoming excavations scheduled to take place between March 29 and April 8.

Heather Pentland, a Community Volunteer, worked on the archaeological excavations last year.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Flodden 500 digs, to the extent that I attended all of them, and happily took advantage of all the expert training on offer.

“There was always a sense of anticipation at the beginning of an excavation as you never knew what you might be about to uncover.

“Over the course of the year I learnt a lot about practical archaeology.” She added: “I really enjoyed the company and the friendly atmosphere and I had plenty of exercise!”

Anyone who would like to try archaeological excavation for the first time, or would like to come back and join in again should contact the Flodden 1513 Archaeological Manager, Chris Burgess, by email at, to book a place specifying which days you would like to attend.

Places are limited so booking early is recommended.

No previous experience is necessary to join in, just an interest in what is going on and a will to try your hand at an excavation.