A Northumberland market town is preparing for a Scottish invasion tomorrow.
The 250-strong tartan army will be in Hexham Abbey to attend a special service marking the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Hornshole.
In 1514 – a year after the Battle of Flodden – a raiding party, including men loyal to the Prior of Hexham, was ambushed in Scotland by a group of youths defending the Borders town of Hawick from the English aggressors.
During the skirmish, the Prior’s Standard was captured and kept by the Hawick Cornet, or standard bearer, and has formed part of the annual Common Riding celebrations in Hawick ever since.
But, 500 years on, civic leaders from Hexham and Hawick are putting the past behind them and holding a Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation at the Abbey – led by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, The Rt. Revd John Chalmers and The Rt Revd Frank White, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle. Local families will join several coachloads of Scots for the service, which begins at 11am.
Cornet Ross Gibson will march through the Abbey bearing a replica of the captured flag with the civic party and an honour guard provided by 39 Regiment Royal Artillery.
In the grounds a commemorative tree-planting ceremony will be led by the Provost of Hawick, Coun Stuart Marshall.
Hexham Mayor Coun Terry Robson said: “The seizing of the Prior’s Standard and the battle of Hornshole reflected the turbulent times this region continued to suffer after the Battle of Flodden. Of course Hexham and Hawick put their differences to one side hundreds of years ago, and the two towns have come together since then for important events such as the consecration of the Abbey’s newly-built nave in 1908 – and again in 1972 when a replica of the Prior’s Banner was donated to the town by the people of Hawick. But on Sunday, we will witness history being made when we have the people of Hexham and the people of Hawick joining in this Service of Remembrance and Reconciliation.”
Northumbrian Piper Sue Dunne and steward and bailiff of Hexham, Nick Short, will entertain guests at a civic reception. Nick will wear Northumbrian shepherds’ plaid and recite Northumbrian verses as a Border Bard.