Solemn Commemoration brings together English and Scottish communities

A major service of peace and reconciliation involving descendants and representatives of those involved in the Battle of Flodden will be held the day after the 500th anniversary of the battle which played a key role in uniting England and Scotland.

Communities from both sides of the Border will take part in the Solemn Commemoration in Branxton, close to the north Northumberland battlefield, and one of the sites of the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, on September 10.

The service will remember of the 5000 English and estimated 10,000 Scots who died in the bloody battle. The casualties included Scottish King James IV, who was the last British monarch to die on a battlefield, and members of almost every Scottish noble family.

English army commander, the Earl of Surrey, will be represented by his 21st Century descendant, the Duke of Norfolk, and the present-day Earl of Hume will represent his 16th Century counterpart, who led a section of the Scottish Army. The service, which is open to everyone, will feature an address by Flodden expert Lady Judy Steel of Aikwood, the wife of theformer Liberal Party leader David.

The fallen of both sides will be remembered through a series of readings and hymns with peace and reconciliation at their heart. Both Northumbrian and Scottish Pipes will play at the service and a lone Scottish piper will play Flowers of the Forest, a tune associated with Flodden and traditionally performed as an act of remembrance.

Rev Rob Kelsey, of Norham Church and the priest in charge of Branxton Church, said: “It obviously was a turning point in history.

“We are seeking to honour those who died on both sides of the conflict. The battle has left a lasting legacy and especially so north of the Border. Part of the point of the Solemn Commemoration is to raise awareness as well as build bridges and work together towards a better future. This is a truly cross border commemoration.”

Rev David Taverner of Coldstream Parish Church said: “The aim is to mark the anniversary of a very important battle in an appropriate way, and in such a way that will be relevant to the 21st Century.”

“It is about bringing people together in understanding as opposed to keeping them apart."

The service will be held in a large marquee at the eastern end of Branxton village, and will bring together communities and dignitaries from both sides of the Border. Representatives from nearby towns and villages will be bringing their colours which will be paraded into the special marquee during the service as a symbol of togetherness. Four symbols of peace and reconciliation will also be received: a cross, a sword and ploughshare, a Bible and a dove made from pressed flowers from local Flower Festivals held earlier this summer to commemorate Flodden.

Clergy from the main Christian denominations will also be at the service, including the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and senior representatives from the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. The Dean of Durham Cathedral will represent the Bishop of Durham.

Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum project co-ordinator Alistair Bowden, said: “In the whirl of activities being organised to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the battle, it is vital that we don’t lose sight of the human cost of Flodden.

“Thousands of men from both England and Scotland died in what was the biggest ever battle between our two nations. The Solemn Commemoration will remember them and act as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.”

The Battle of Flodden took place when James IV fulfilled his mutual support obligations under the Auld Alliance with France and launched an attack on England, in response to Henry VIII’s invasion of France. Just 90 years later, the crowns of England and Scotland were united under James VI of Scotland who became James I of the two nations.

The impact and repercussions of the battle are being remembered in a series of events including a guided walk on the battlefield on September 9, a commons horse ride, a Flodden Tartan and a real-time Twitter feed sharing the thoughts of the English and Scottish commanders.

The Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum is a museum without walls, which links sites on both sides of the Border that are connected to the battle, to share heritage and community memories of this keystone in our history.

The Solemn Commemoration Flodden 1513 takes place at Branxton on 10th September 2013 at 2.30pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.