The king’s possessions

While little reported, as a long-time campaigner I am delighted to see that the sword, dagger and ring – reputed to have been owned by King James IV – are to be returned on temporary loan to the Stirling Smith Museum at the end of August.

Given the fact that this year marks the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, where King James IV lost his life and from whose corpse the items were allegedly taken, this is indeed extremely timely.

The items have been held at the College of Arms in London since 1681 and in February this year Dr Ralph Moffat of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, an international expert in weapons of the period, undertook an investigation of the objects which indicates that the use of a sword together with a dagger is characteristic of an age later than Flodden.

He, however, points out that the sword blade has been refitted and may be older than its present hilt. The fact that the blade is older than the hilt and the ring can’t be dated may hold out the prospect that the tradition that these were James IV’s is not wholly unfounded.

The items exhibit the strong significance that Flodden has had for subsequent ages throughout Britain, and are of clear merit in their own right.

Alex Orr

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh