In 1513 King Henry VIII invaded France. In response, the French King Louis XII requested that his ally, King James IV of Scotland, create a diversion by invading England. This the Scottish King did at the end of August.
With Henry VIII in France, the responsibility for defending the north of England fell to his Lieutenant-General, the 70-year-old Earl of Surrey. He gathered together an army of 26,000 men and led it into Northumberland to oppose the Scots. After some audacious manoeuvring, Surrey encountered the 35,000-40,000 strong of James IV close to the border near the village of Branxton.
In the battle that followed, Surrey defeated the Scots. James IV and a large proportion of the Scottish nobility were killed. Casualties were heavy. King James's death was a catastrophe for Scotland. Decades of political instability followed his demise. The different methods of fighting favoured by each side had a significant effect on the outcome of the battle. Flodden is therefore of great interest to the student of military history.
The battle was fought over arable fields close to the village and over rough grazing moorland on the hillslopes. Although the appearance of the landscape has changed with Parliamentary enclosure in the eighteenth century, the topography is dramatic and the course of the battle is easily traced.
The battlefield is signposted from the A698 and there is a car park and public access to the viewpoint at the Battlefield monument. The local road network gives good access around the Battlefield Area and to the Scots, initial position on Flodden Edge nearby. Current interpretation includes an interpretive panel next tot he monument on pipers Hill, an excellent viewpoint looking up at the daunting position of the Scots on Branxton Hill, as well as an interpretive leaflet about the battle available at the church, including a brief tour of the battlefield area. There is a recently constructed exhibition about Flodden at nearby Etal Castle, which deals in part with the battle.
The battlefield lies within Berwick Borough Council's Till Valley Tourism Initiative Area (May 1993). Six buildings within the battlefield area are Listed.
English Heritage, 1995, Battlefield Report: Flodden 1513
Knightly, C, 1975, The Anglo-Scottish War of 1513