I read with interest Tom Dowd's letter calling for a search for the body of James IV and expressing his regret that so little remains of Scotland's most popular king ("Trace the remains of King James IV", The Herald, February 14).
It is not widely known that the College of Arms in London keeps in its library the sword, dagger and ring taken from James's body and donated by the descendants of the Earl of Surrey, victor of Flodden, who was later created Duke of Norfolk.
Several years ago I attempted to have these objects returned to Scotland and was helped by many people, notably four leading armourers, two Scottish, one Spanish and one English, who were kind enough to give me their opinions.
Though a striking drawing of the relics exists, no close photographs could be obtained – the college refused to provide them. My attempts failed due to the lack of interest of the Museum of Scotland which informed me it intended sending someone to London to examine the objects, but never did and stopped replying to my inquiries.
One of the Scottish armourers believes, as I do, the sword and dagger are of Spanish manufacture – indeed the name Domingo, possibly the maker, can be seen in the drawing. It seems likely the weapons were a diplomatic gift from Spain, which was at the forefront of weapon design at that time. The turquoise and gold ring is believed to be the one sent by Anne of Brittany, twice Queen of France, as an inducement to James to attack England. As such it would be a rare emblem of the Auld Alliance.
I have spoken to two people who have seen the relics in the College of Arms. One of them told me they are "lying in an old fish tank with some Zulu spears and other trophies of war".
It seems neither King James nor his belongings have been accorded any dignity in death – a completely unacceptable situation. I commend the efforts of Tom Dowds and, recently, Gary Stewart of the Wallace Society and interested MSPs in looking into this and hope the king's belongings can be brought home for the first time in 500 years.
84 Strathleven Drive, Alexandria.
King James IV of Scotland was buried at Sheen Monastery in Surrey.
It has been suggested that remains may be buried under the course at Richmond Golf Club.
I have read that, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the king's head was hacked off by a workman.
As I recall, James IV's head was associated with a London city church, Holy Trinity, Minories. After its closure, the king's reputed head was said to have been kept in a black deed box at St Botolph's, Bishopsgate, which is still in existence as a church.
3 The Terrace,
Ardbeg Road, Rothesay.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.