Exhibition to display the best of Flodden

Alistair Bowden, project coordinator for Flodden 1513 at the Flodden Field memorial.Alistair Bowden, project coordinator for Flodden 1513 at the Flodden Field memorial.
Alistair Bowden, project coordinator for Flodden 1513 at the Flodden Field memorial.
A tartan, a play, a poem, a rock concert, a flower festival, field trips, archaeology finds and documentary evidence have been enjoyed by thousands of people and all have one thing in common '“ The Battle of Flodden.

As it draws to a close, the organisers of the Flodden 1513 Project are launching an exhibition to showcase the successes of the project.

Since its inception four years ago, Flodden 1513 has been a catalyst to help people initiate ideas and drive projects forward.

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This exhibition will illustrate the diversity of activities, especially in the fields of archaeology and local history, and share what has been discovered about the Battle of Flodden and its aftermath.

Alistair Bowden, project coordinator, said: “This marks the culmination of four years of a hugely successful project which has promoted both passion and community involvement. It will show the enthusiasm that people have shown to be part of a major milestone. The exhibition shows success of local community volunteers, who have learnt new skills, gained new interests and discovered more about Flodden.”

The exhibition will be held at Berwick Museum & Art Gallery from June 18 until August 29 , and at Coldstream Museum from September 9 until October 31.

The aim of this final Flodden exhibition is to demonstrate what has been achieved by the local community. It also aims to highlight the opportunities for people’s involvement into the future.

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Alistair added: “We have found some answers and created even more questions. We are confident that people will enjoy the exhibition and we hope that people will be inspired to continue to discover more about the story of the Battle of Flodden and its aftermath in future. Although the Flodden 1513 Project may be coming to an end, the opportunity for local people to use archives and explore the local archaeology and for school children to visit Ecomuseum sites will continue.”

Some of the examples of the finds unearthed during Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum’s cross-border community archaeology and documentary research projects will also be featured and displayed:

· From Linlithgow Palace – a floor tile thought to be inscribed with the initials of James IV and Margaret Tudor. As well as some James IV coins and a framed etching of James IV, kindly offered on loan from Historic Scotland.

· A sword once thought to have been a trophy of the battle, now possibly of a later date, discovered at Middleton Church in Lancashire.

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· From Ford Castle – a portrait of James IV, together with replicas of items in the College of Arms including a sword , dagger and a ring.

· Although not an Ecomuseum site, Paxton House are kindly loaning their Flodden banner – the framed remains of a Scottish pennant, which oral history relates came from the Battle of Flodden.

As well as the exhibition the Flodden 1513 project team is planning some free evening events over the summer months, providing visitors with the opportunity to gain free entry to the exhibition and explore some of the exhibition themes in more detail. The first of these events, The Flodden Archer, will be by Rusty Bodkins for living history presentations, explaining the use of the bow at the time of Flodden, and how the billhook was used to such devastating effect alongside the bow. This event will be held on Thursday 21 July, 6pm to 8pm, with presentations at 6pm and 7pm.

During the last four years, there has been significant interest from people of all ages and abilities including many young people who have been engaged in practical archaeology. There has also been hugely successful transcribing work completed by many people, under the direction of Berwick-upon-Tweed archivist Linda Bankier.

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Dozens of groups have been involved, hundreds of individuals and thousands of people of all ages have learnt much more about Flodden. “Over 10,000 school children – both in local schools and on the various Ecomuseum sites – have been given practical insight into history, archeology, archives and story of Flodden itself,” says Alistair.

A key element in this exhibition is charting the range of the topics involved.

Alistair said: “I have been to Flodden a number of times during my life and have looked at it from a number of perspectives, but through this Project I have been astounded about how much Flodden means to people both sides of the Border, and the emotion that comes with it. This was not just around the 500th anniversary commemoration, but year after year, and is ongoing through the generations!”

It was in August 2008 when the originators of the project first came up with idea of a long-term and sustainable way of commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden. The group, chaired by Lord Joicey, who lives at nearby Etal, rejected a single site for the commemoration, or any celebration of the battle as a victory for one side or the other. The battle was to be seen as a nation-changing event for both England and Scotland, and as a step on the journey linking the two countries, leading to the Union of Crowns in 1603.

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The Project was therefore set up as the UK’s first cross-border Ecomuseum, which was to inspire community involvement and to identify and feature the sites throughout the UK which played a part in the story, before and after the battle. It was also intended to foster sustainable economic development.

The £1.3m project, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund, aimed to raise the profile and tell the story of the Battle of Flodden, whilst leaving a lasting legacy for communities in north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. The exhibition will chart this journey and celebrate its success, in the voices, words and activities of all who participated, and continue to take part.