Britain’s last great medieval battle


08 August 2013
flodden-blog-pic-219x300-90953.jpg Read more about Flodden in Family Tree's September issue.
‘On the evening of 8 September 1513, I wouldn’t have dared to set foot outside my house,’ writes James Alexande

‘On the evening of 8 September 1513, I wouldn’t have dared to set foot outside my house,’ writes James Alexander in the September issue of Family Tree.

The reason?

Five hundred years ago, the quiet Northumberland countryside was about to witness the biggest and bloodiest battle between old foes England and Scotland – the one we now know as the Battle of Flodden.

And while it took days of laborious marching for the opposing sides to assemble, so that the English didn’t arrive on the battlefield until 4pm that day, just two and a half hours later, 14,000 men lay dead or dying. The Scottish king – James IV – was slain and England ‘took the day’, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But what exactly was that history?

Content continues after advertisements

Despite being such a famous battle, up until now, there has been surprisingly little research into the original historical sources that can shed light on the events before the battle and its aftermath. Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding a group of dedicated volunteers – one of whom is Family Tree author James Alexander – have in recent months been trained in reading old handwriting, and are now transcribing historic records from the period in search of new information about the battle. What’s more, there is a project in hand that will be of particular interest to family historians – a database of the Border surnames from the time of the Battle of Flodden, through to the accession of King James I & IV, which is due to come online at some point.

Find out more about this terrible conflict in the September issue of Family Tree, on sale now, and also check out the App Store for the Pocket Tours iphone app about Flodden. With clear text, and a detailed and informative audio account of the battle, the lead up and the fall out, the ‘Pocket Tours – Flodden’ app also has a map, and 3D imaging of the landscape showing the location of the opposing forces. A great read and also an extremely useful onsite guide for use when visiting the battlefield and area, priced just £1.99 (iPhone app, compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later).

See for further info about the app, and visit for extensive info about the battle, commemorative events, and 'planning your trip' advice.

Also available from the App Store by Pocket Tours is Arnhem £5.99, Somme £5.99 and Cayman £6.99.