Walk the footsteps of the soldiers who fought on the Flodden Battle field almost 500 years ago.
Today, in the quiet fields and rolling hills around the small village of Branxton it is difficult to believe that 500 years ago this was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles ever to take place in the British Isles. Soldiers came from all parts of Scotland and England to line up in two great armies facing each other across the shallow valley just to the south of Branxton. It was here that a great artillery duel opened the last medieval battle, where men fought hand to hand and 14,000 died within the space of a few hours - a rate of slaughter that compares with some of the worst days of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.
It was here too that a King, James IV of Scotland, became the last monarch to die in battle in the British Isles and the course of history of two nations was changed.
The Flodden Battlefield Trail, an award-winning trail created and maintained by the Remembering Flodden Project (a registered charity) covers the ground where the two armies met in combat and detailed interpretation boards assist the visitor in visualising the events of the 9th September 1513. The boards describe the manoeuvers and tactics of the Battle and provide illustrations of the weapons and armour of the times. They explain the importance of the topography and ground conditions and how the tide of battle ebbed and flowed for the two opposing armies.
The local church, St Paul’s at Branxton, is also well worth visiting to see the records and notes taken from the battle. Large scale burial pits were dug in the vicinity.
Perhaps the last word should go to an 8 year old visitor who had a great time when she visited the battlefield. “I visited the site with my mum and dad today and really, really enjoyed it...I liked the picture boards all the way round. I could imagine the mud and the noise when the battle happened. I like to imagine what ancient things are buried deep in the ground!!!”
Free and open access to the battlefield site throughout the year. Flodden Battlefield is the core site of the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, established to commemorate the quincentenary of the battle in 2013.
The Estates of Ford & Etal, and in particular Ford, offer rich pickings for those interested in tracing their family tree. As well as the records held in St Michael and All Angels Church, Ford, work is also ongoing to try and record the plots within the church cemetery in order to help visitors find the information they are looking for. When completed these records will be held in the Lady Waterford Hall.
The Lady Waterford Hall itself is a remarkable record insofar as the models used to depict the characters in the murals were in fact local people. Again, the names of these people and any information known about them is kept at the Lady Waterford Hall.
An additional local pictorial archive is currently being compiled and once it is available will be publicised here.
Because of the mobile nature of work in the mid to late nineteenth century records of family members may be held in any of the local churches including Ford, Crookham, Etal, Branxton, Norham, Kyloe, Lowick, Milfield, Cornhill, Ancroft – and of course churches in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Names particularly common to this area at the time are: Jeffrey, Jeffreys, Tait, Locke, Robson, Armstrong, Dawson, Black as well as variations of these. Details of some of the nobility who died at Flodden in 1513 can be found on www.flodden.net
This page will be updated from time to time but if you have any enquiries or are thinking of coming to investigate further, the Parish of Ford may be of great interest to you. Come and stay a day or two and explore this fascinating community.
Set in a hollow at the top of the hill to the east of Ford village, with stunning views over the Till Valley and the Cheviots, Ford Moss is an area of wild landscape, exciting flora and fauna, and historical remains of an abandoned mining community.
Ford Moss extends to over 60 hectares (150 acres). It is an area of bog and scrub known as a lowland raised mire. A deep layer of peat, formed by rotting vegetation over many thousands of years, overlies the carboniferous limestone bedrock. Seams of coal were mined on the site from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Ford Moss has become increasingly more dry over the last 250 years mainly through human activity (mining, afforestation and associated drainage).
The bog plant communities in this area include the aromatic Bog Myrtle, while the adjacent woodland contains mature Scots Pine and Oak trees. The Moss is also of interest for its wildlife, the site being home to common lizards and occasional adders as well as birds such as red grouse, woodcock and snipe. Buzzards and kestrels are also often seen above the reserve.
Because of its special characteristics, Ford Moss was notified in 1968 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and further classified by the European Union as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in 2000. Ford & Etal Estates work closely with Natural England and the National Wildlife Trust to promote positive management of the reserve. The aim is to maintain the conservation interest, principally by reducing the amount of water run-off through a series of small dams on the bog surface. This has retained the mire community.
Ford Moss is dangerous to walk on. Its boggy surface is very soft and treacherous. However, a circular path of 2 miles allows visitors to walk right around the area and gives excellent views of the surrounding countryside as well as the Moss itself.
Park on the road side by the main entrance gate and please wear appropriate clothes and footwear. A seasonal toilet is located 300m further along the tarmac road behind the small stone building.
The archaeological remains of the former colliery at Ford Moss are an iconic feature of the landscape. Known to have been active from the 17th century, the coal mine largely operated along the northern and western edges of Ford Moss, where the ruin of an old engine house and a large brick chimney are the most obvious features.
The mine closed in 1918, but several of the miners who lived and worked at Ford Moss colliery in the late 19th century were depicted by Louisa Lady Waterford in her famous paintings on the walls of the school which she built in Ford.
A project to record the important social heritage of Ford Moss colliery is currently under way, in connection with the Lady Waterford Hall.
Sadly the temporary exhibiton centre which has been open through the summer in the old Bakery building, opposite the entrance to Heatherslaw Mill , is now closed for the winter. Developed by the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS) the extensive exhibition, 'Life in a Border Village 1830-1930' included maps, photographs and some artefacts, with a focus on the local villages of Crookham and Branxton. The centre, which was manned by members of TillVAS, reported a very successful season and hopes to return with another exhibition next year.
Little is known about life in the Ford & Etal area during prehistoric times but the presence of ‘cup and ring’ marks carved out of rock near Ford suggest that there was a Bronze Age community there.
There are no records of houses at Ford or Etal during Anglo-Saxon times but it is thought that Ford was probably a crossing place for monks and nuns travelling between the monasteries at Iona and Lindisfarne.
The history of Ford & Etal really starts with the Norman conquest in 1066 and the introduction of the manorial system. By the 14th century lordship of the manors was held by the Manners family at Etal and the Heron family at Ford. These were turbulent times with cross border warfare between the English and the Scots and neighbouring families in conflict with each other – certainly the Manners and Herons were bitter rivals, each attacking the others’ castle.
Ford & Etal lands include the site of the Battle of Flodden fought between the English and Scots armies on 9th September 1513. This was the last decisive battle between the two nations with James IV of Scotland being slain, together with about 9000 of his men. Ford and Etal featured heavily in the run-up to the battle with Ford Castle being taken by the Scots army on its way to Flodden and King James staying at Ford Castle prior to the battle.
After Flodden, peace came to the area and by the 19th century Ford & Etal were thriving communities supporting large populations involved in agriculture, forestry and associated occupations. In 1859, Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, inherited Ford Estate on the death of her husband. Lady Waterford transformed Ford with a new schoolroom and housing for her tenants and the introduction of a nurse to Ford Village for their welfare.
In 1907, the 1st Baron Joicey of Chester-le-Street, the highly successful owner of coalmines in Durham, purchased Ford Estate and, in 1908, purchased Etal thus uniting the Estates under one ownership for the first time in history. Today the Estates remain in the ownership of the Joicey family.
The Battle of Flodden Field was Scotland's greatest defeat. It is believed that 10,000 were killed at the hands of the English, including King James IV and a large proportion of his earls and nobles. It was the last occasion on which a reigning monarch was killed in battle in Great Britain. Flodden has left a strong legacy in this border area, where many sites connected to the battle still exist and where traditions such as the Common Ridings in the Border towns recall the tragedy.
Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre is set to step back in time on 11th & 12th October with its "Looking Back" event. Visitors to this weekend event will be able to see Heavy Horses working in the field and view horse drawn machinery through to the first working tractors. Whilst children can visit the Clydesdales stabled within the barn parents can browse the selection of crafters, food producers and demonstrators located in the undercover market area. The organisers of the event have been very fortunate in locating a rare crafter who will be demonstrating the old art of corn dolly making. Also joining them for the weekend will be a very unusual sight - the only ploughing mule team in the country, who apparently are also highly skilled at escaping from stables!
In its day Hay Farm was an integral part of the estate as the standing steam engines for threshing were located here. In years gone by seventeen heavy horses worked the land and moved cereals down to Heatherslaw for milling. This event incorporates these two venues and visitors can take a short leisurely walk down past the working horses to Heatherslaw Cornmill and learn of its history - children can even become 'junior millers'! This is truly a family event and is sure to bring back memories for grandparents as well as giving younger family members an insight into rural life in years gone by. Daily admission charge to event only £2.50 adults/£1.00 children. Admission event plus Cornmill – Adults £5.00 Children £2.00. Both venues open 10am – 4pm, last admission to Mill 3.15pm.
After a successful exhibition in 2013 TillVAS is returning to the Old Bakery opposite Heatherslaw Cornmill with an entirely new exhibition, running from 20th May until 25th September (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Bank Holiday Sundays & Mondays, 11am-4pm).