Keys to the Past

Local History

Branxton (Northumberland)

Site of the Battle of Flodden Field, Branxton. Photo by Northumberland County Council.
Site of the Battle of Flodden Field, Branxton. Photo by Northumberland County Council.

The parish of Branxton lies in north Northumberland, close to the Scottish border, within the region known as Glendale. The name Branxton derives from a personal name `Brannoc'. It seems to have had a very quiet history until the 16th century, lying as it does off the beaten track. The only exceptions were periodical raids by the Scots with the earliest recorded incident in 1340. Branxton is famous in British history as the scene of a battle in 1513 which is now commonly called the Battle of Flodden.

Little is known of the parish in prehistoric times until the Iron Age and Romano-British periods, when we get evidence of the first settlements. They are sub-rectangular or sub-circular enclosures and would have been defined by a simple bank and ditch, with the remains of houses and yards inside. These survive as cropmarks and have been discovered through aerial photography.

Like many parts of Northumberland there are no monuments or finds from the early medieval period. It is only after the Norman Conquest that once again we can recognise remains of the past in the parish. Branxton is the only recorded medieval settlement in the parish and, despite rebuilding in the 19th century, the church still retains its medieval chancel arch.

Towards the end of the medieval period, in the 16th century, Branxton was the scene of the last and most bloody battle to be fought in Northumberland. Not only was the Scottish king, James IV, slain but so were most of the Scottish nobility. It was one of the key turning points towards the ending of Scotland as a separate nation state. A number of burial pits and cannonballs have been found at Branxton which are thought to be connected with the battle.

Although more peaceful times arrived in the post-medieval period settlement still focused around the village. The common lands and common waste were enclosed in the 18th century. A well at Branxton was used as a setting for Sir Walter Scott's poem Marmion. The battlefield site remains the most significant historical element of the parish and a memorial was built to the battle in 1910.

Reference number:N12998

Disclaimer -

Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.