Flodden 1513 Club marching proudly on into its 20th year

Flodden battlefield surrounded by barley in Northumberland England
Flodden battlefield surrounded by barley in Northumberland England
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It was one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles between Scotland and England, responsible for the deaths of 14,000 men, noblemen and the Scots king, James IV.

It was also a battle that changed the course of Scottish history forever.

But despite the Battle of Flodden taking place more than 500 years ago, there is a small, modern day army dedicated to making sure that it is never forgotten.

The Flodden 1513 Club has members across the Scottish Borders as well as in Northumberland and as far afield as Australia.

It was created in 1997 by four Coldstream men whose quiet reflection and toast to the fallen attracted interest from others.

Chairman James Bell, who was one of the founding members, said: “We were in the pub one night, having a toast to James IV and we laid a wreath.

“A lot of people got to hear about it and were interested in getting involved.”

The men decided to form a club to commemorate the Scots who died at the Battle of Flodden, four miles south of the town on September 9, 1513.

The three main aims in its constitution were:

n To remember the Scottish men who died in the battle;

n To link up with other similar groups to make sure Flodden is never forgotten;

n To make charitable donations.

The Flodden 1513 Club now has 55 full members, as well as a number of associate and life members.

James said: “The member numbers are capped just to prevent it getting too big, and we have always had a healthy waiting list.

“People are interested in the club because of the history of the battle but also for the social side.”

The club holds a ceremony at the Flodden monument every September 9, in addition to an annual dinner.

Among other things, it has also been responsible for creating an education and interpretation project, publishing a book about the battle and installing a stained-glass window in Coldstream Parish Church to commemorate the Scottish fallen.

Its biggest and most important year so far was 2013 which marked the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden.

Gerald Tait, club secretary, said: “Probably the best thing we have done is erect a monument to James IV at the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club in Richmond in Surrey.

“The location was where his body was last seen in the Carthusian monastery of Sheen.

“But we managed to get the monument on the 14th tee of the Golf Club.”

The 500th anniversary year also saw a horse relay in the Scottish Borders which saw the one-off Borderers Return flag being carried on horseback.

The commemoration ride, which was the brainchild of club member George Miller OBE, took in Flodden, Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk, Melrose, Lauder, Duns and Coldstream.

The idea was to commemorate all the men who had survived and had returned to their villages in the Scottish Borders.

Each of the nine towns taking part entered six horses in the relay which turned out to be a symbolic event.

Gerald said: “It’s very important to us that we keep the profile up.

“We don’t want things tailing off now that the 500th anniversary is over.

“We want to keep it going for future generations.”

As part of the future plans, the club intends to continue supporting the Flodden 1513 eco museum, a virtual vault of files and information about Flodden-related sites in Scotland and England.

The Flodden 1513 Club has also started discussions with the City of London in an attempt to have a blue plaque to James IV erected in Wood Street in the city.

A church in that street is thought to have been the last place the monarch’s severed head was seen.

Gerald added: “As well as continuing to commemorate every year, we think our town and other towns could develop the Flodden legend and make it a tourist attraction.

“We feel we could definitely help with such an initiative.”