Author tackles pain of Flodden aftermath

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Much of this month’s events marking the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden focus on the men who died, but what of afterwards?

It is a question author Rosemary Goring attempts to answer in her debut novel, After Flodden.

This week, journalist and historian Goring was in the Borders to speak to an audience at Mainstreet Trading bookshop in St Boswells.

After Flodden, published by Polygon, deals mainly with the aftermath of this tragic episode in Scottish history.

Goring attempts to puts a human face on what has previously tended to be thought of in purely militaristic terms, dealing as it does with one girl’s search for answers after her brother fails to return.

Blending fact and fiction, Goring has come up with a 16th century political thriller with a mix of intrigue, conspiracy and romance.

For while we know about the king and the nobles who died on Branxton Moor on that fateful day in September, 1513, Goring shines a light on what may have happened to those left behind bereaved.

The Dunbar-born writer was delighted with audience reaction at the Mainstreet event on Tuesday evening: “It was really good, with such a good audience and in such a fantastic bookshop.”

She says Flodden has haunted her thoughts since childhood: “It has been at the back of my mind since I was terribly young and paid a visit to the battlefield site. It made a big impression on me.”

Goring admits she is not surprised by the level of activity around the 500th anniversary in the Borders, but is disappointed the rest of Scotland has taken little notice of the milestone.

“I’m not surprised by how much is being done in the Borders - it has always remembered the battle. But interest fizzles out the farther north you go.

“Yet considering the Scottish army was drawn from all over the country, 
including the Highlands 
and Islands, you would expect more events elsewhere.”

Of course, Goring says the fact it was a tragic defeat, rather than a glorious victory like Bannockburn, will be a strong factor in deciding how much is made of the anniversary elsewhere in Scotland.

“But nobody wins such battles in the bigger sense. Families are still devastated and communities shattered because of the losses, regardless of who claims victory.”

Goring is now hard at work on a sequel, which looks at life 10 years after Flodden. “It is a period which has really been overlooked,” she added.

More Flodden coverage, pages 42-49.