How the Battle of Flodden changed British history

Five hundred years ago a Northumberland field was the stage for one of the country’s bloodiest ever battles which changed the course of history

A re-enactment of the Battle of Flodden
A re-enactment of the Battle of Flodden

Five hundred years ago a Northumberland field was the stage for one of the country’s bloodiest ever battles which changed the course of history.

Reliving the epic clash between Scottish King James IV and the English forces of Henry VIII, led by Earl of Surrey Thomas Howard, tours of the blood-soaked battle ground of centuries gone by will be staged in real time today.

The Scottish king was killed along with thousands of his men at the Battle of Flodden and as a consequence 90 years later, the crowns of England and Scotland were united when the Tudor dynasty died with Elizabeth I and James VI of Scotland succeeded her as James I.

Led by local historian and battlefield guide Clive Hallam-Baker crowds will meet at the Flodden Monument today visiting the places where the two sides made up of thousands of troops would have fought all those years ago.

The tour is just part of the commemorations of the clash which, in terms of numbers, was the largest battle fought between the two kingdoms. It’s been organised by the Flodden 1513 ecomuseum, a collection of sites linked to the battle which include the battle site itself including Norham Castle, Edinburgh’s Flodden Wall and the Fletcher Monument in Selkirk.

The fruits so far of the Flodden Documentary Research Project will go on show today in the village of Branxton where there will be displays and exhibits of documents which have been transcribed about the battle.

Marking the historic day at 7.15pm will be a commemoration Service at the Flodden Monument with members of the public invited to watch, listen and commemorate as the Flodden 1513 Club stages its annual service with readings and toasts.

Peter Reese, who has written a book about the clash, said: “While Bannockburn undoubtedly laid the foundations for renewed Scottish Independence, Scotland’s defeat at Flodden served to downgrade the country’s military capability and set in train what was to become an irreversible process towards union with England.”

Open to all there will be a Solemn Commemoration tomorrow at 2.30pm in The Flodden marquee at Branxton. The ceremony will include displays of symbols of peace and reconciliation, with specially-chosen hymns, music and readings.

Rosemary Goring, who has written the novel After Flodden, said: “The Battle of Flodden was one of the most significant events in our history. Not only was it a calamity, bringing massive loss of life and pride, but it helped determine Scotland’s future, arguably paving the way for the Union of 1707 and today’s political climate.”


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