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Bid to unearth the secrets behind Battle of Flodden

IT was one of the most disastrous battles in Scottish history and saw the country lose its king and most of the nobility in a single blood-drenched afternoon.

SCENE OF DEFEAT: Archaeologists are mapping the route taken by the Scots and English during the Battle of Flodden, which resulted in the death of  King James IV.  Main picture:  Gordon Terris
SCENE OF DEFEAT: Archaeologists are mapping the route taken by the Scots and English during the Battle of Flodden, which resulted in the death of King James IV. Main picture: Gordon Terris

And now teams of archaeologists are to map the route taken by the Scots and their English foes as one of several projects to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden next year.

The Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum is planning a wide-ranging series of events to mark the anniversary after securing a £887,300 grant from the heritage lottery fund.

Chief among them is a plan to trace the route of the 20,000-strong medieval Scottish army as it made its way south to Northumberland, where it met its demise at the hands of the Earl of Surrey's army.

The battle was fought when King James IV launched an invasion of England to honour the "Auld Alliance" with France, who were fighting an English army led by Henry VIII on their home soil at the time.

The Scots hoped to turn the tide for their continental allies by tying up English forces at home, but it ended in a cataclysmic disaster – with the king and many of his noblemen slain on the field along with thousands of their footsoldiers.

Lord Joicey of Ford and Etal Estates, on whose land the battle site is mostly located and who is a director of the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, says the battle deserves to be remembered as it holds a pivotal place in the history of the British Isles.

However, despite its importance, many details of the clash have been forgotten and now attempts will be made to find out where the armies gathered and how the battle played out.

Lord Joicey said: "Although we know the result of the battle, we don't know what happened, exactly where it happened, and how it happened. On the Scottish side, archaeologists from the Borders Council are looking at how the Scots made their way south, while the English side will look at how the army reacted to being attacked.

"This should give us a much more comprehensive picture of the battle than we have today."

Aside from field work, the anniversary project will see research being carried out to bring together the various historical sources and documents on the battle and to look into the genealogy of those who took part.

The Ecomuseum will be expanded while there will also be a marketing push to raise awareness of the battle and the events surrounding the anniversary.

Plans are also being drawn up to take what is learned about the battle into schools and to teach children the story of what took place 500 years ago.

Lord Joicey added: "We have always felt Flodden is the poor relation when it comes to the school curriculum as it doesn't fit into any one subject, such as the Wars of Independence or the Jacobite Rebellion. But it was a battle that was very significant for Scottish history, and is still relevant to Scotland today."

Northumberland County Council chief executive Steve Stewart said the programme of events will have "national and international significance".

He added: "The Battle of Flodden played a significant role in the history of our nations and this project will improve learning, access and understanding of the Flodden heritage as well as providing boost to tourism and a lasting legacy.

"The project is also a great demonstration of partnership working on a cross-border theme."

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