These green meadows, on the English/Scottish border at Northumberland, look so lush and inviting. A great place for a walk, or maybe a family picnic.
But 500 years ago it was a scene of unimaginable slaughter – in the space of less than 4 hours, 14,000 were slaughtered in the biggest and bloodiest battle of the Borders. For this is Flodden – another name for these Branxton Meadows – and here took place ‘The Batttle of Flodden Field’.
It was on the 9th September 1513 during the reign of Henry VIII. England was at war with France, and the French Queen persuaded King James IV of Scotland to invade Northern England, thus assisting the French. Scotland and England had an uneasy relationship, with various battles and skirmishes fought for centuries. Money and arms were sent to the Scottish over a period of months in readiness for the big day.
On the 22nd of August, James entered England with an army of between 60,000 to 100,000 men. By the time of the battle on Friday 9th September, most of the Scottish soldiers had returned over the border, with goods and booty plundered from the English. It is estimated that each side could put about 30,000 men into the field.
Battle commenced about 4 in the afternoon, and as a result of several bad decisions and missed chances by James, the day held for the English. Approximately 4,000 English and 10,000 Scottish lost their lives, King James being one of them.
Today, there is little physical evidence of the battlefield. There are tour signs, where you can follow a path around the site and visit places of interest – but I was suffering from an injury that day so we didn’t go – however I would have liked to have seen more of it.
We didn’t see a visitor centre or an expensive car park. We parked in the village and walked to the monument – about a mile in distance. This is what I like about this place – no expensive gift shops, or having to pay for entry. Just a lonely field with a stone monument on top of a small windswept hill. And if you fancy a wander around, there are signposts pointing the way – with the odd information board along the path. No one to bother you, or to charge you a ticket.
All in all it is a very sobering place – reminds me a bit of Towton – that largest and bloodiest of English battles where 28,000 were slaughtered in a blizzard on Palmsunday 1461.
Like Towton, it has remained virtually unchanged since the battle. It is a very peaceful and tranquil place – well worth a visit if you are in the area.
If you want more information there are some good links here.