Scotland goes to war

The Muster (by 17th August 1513)

James IV received letters from Louis XII and Anne of Brittany in early August while resident in Linlithgow Palace. He ordered that his forces should muster at Boroughmuir in Edinburgh, equipped with 20 days of supplies and ready to march, no later than 17th August. A second muster was ordered for the Borders at Ellemkirk (now Ellemford). On 17th August James led his forces and his artillery train south-east from Edinburgh, heading for the English border and prepared for a major battle. Riding at the head of a column which included 20 of his most impressive cannon he was observed to be wearing a turquoise ring, sent to him by Anne of Brittany in her letter which begged that he ‘take one yard of English soil’, thus drawing Henry VIII back from France.

The Advance (17th August to 21st August 1513)

Between 17th and 21st the Scottish Army moved towards the English border.The exact route is unknown but it is thought to be via Haddington and then onwards through the Lammermuirs to Ellemkirk to meet the Border muster. From there it passed Duns, where men of the Hay clan joined the column as it advanced towards Coldstream, Ladykirk and the north shore of the Tweed opposite Wark Castle. By this time it is estimated that the Scottish army numbered between 70,000-100,000 men, women and children. Of these, some 30,000-40,000 could be counted as combatants, men who would fight on the battlefield. Supplies may also have been sent by sea from Leith at least as far as Dunbar or to Eyemouth. Some armaments may have arrived from France directly to Dunbar.

The Invasion (22nd August 1513)

The Scottish Army crossed the Tweed at Coldstream on 22nd August 1513, witnessed by the Nuns of Coldstream Priory. At about the same time, the castles at Norham and Wark came under siege from Scottish guns. It seems that James deliberately chose to avoid laying siege to Berwick-upon-Tweed as it may have been too hard a target. In the next few days, James’ army also captured the castles at Etal and Ford and with them the important crossing places on the River Till. Between 1st and 8th September the Scottish Army also fortified an extensive position on the top of Flodden Hill, Flodden Edge and the King’s Chair. It was there that James waited for the English Army to arrive.