The Remembering Flodden Project

Tour of the Battle   8. The Killing Fields

You are now at the heart of the battle. Along this dip, which was then an area of undrained marsh, the two armies came face to face and it is here that most of the fighting, killing and dying took place. It is difficult to imagine the carnage on that day but after a matter of just a few hours, an estimated 14,000 men lie dead or dying, amongst them the Scottish king and many of his nobles. The rate of slaughter exceeds that of some of the most horrific battles on the Somme in the First World War.

It was in this dip that the Battle of Flodden was decided. The advance of the close-order pike formations of the Scots faltered in the heavy, cloying mud of the marshland and, as the ranks pressed in from behind, footing was lost and their formations fell apart. At this point, the English weighed in with their billhooks, thrusting, cutting and hacking at the Scottish lines. The Scots' pikes were totally unsuited for this type of combat. It is thought that King James died on the field only yards from this point. His army's fate was finally sealed when Stanley's archers arrived through Crookham Dene and launched a flanking attack which prevented their escape. The day belonged to Surrey and England.

The killing fields The killing fields