The Battle of Flodden and The Flodden Peace and Reconciliation Centre

Marlyn Glen

15 September 2013

The 400th. anniversary of the Battle of Flodden was marked last week.

At school we were told that Flodden was Scotland’s greatest military defeat where thousands of ordinary Scots were slaughtered within hours, and that the Scottish nobles suffered heavy casualties such that every family of the nobility lost a father, a brother or a son.

This was history taught through the lives of “great men” i.e. kings  ( and a very few “great women” e.g. Elizabeth I of England).

A post-childhood perspective regards these mediaeval battles fought in the name of “Scotland” as being whatever the monarch pursued for his own selfish ends through his individual decisions; usually more land, more personal riches or another throne, which would result in the deaths of thousands of others in battles. 

As in every battle, wives, sisters and daughters lost husbands, brothers and fathers, and so had to take over the work of their deceased members of family

Where lawlessness was the backdrop of armed conflict, women would be violently abused, enslaved, their homes burned, their families dispersed. 

An important but little-mentioned feature of the Flodden commemoration has been the Peace and Reconciliation Centre based in  Crookham United Reformed Church, situated near the field of battle in Northumberland, established in the words of the local paper the Berwickshire Advertiser, “ as a sober reminder that we continue to live in a world of conflict, and aims to reflect on how to achieve global peace.”

 Throughout this year this centre has sought to attract speakers from across the world, and its project manager described its intention as “taking a global perspective, so we’re inviting people in the global community to highlight conflicts or moments of reconciliation.”

 Its commemoration of Flodden began this year on New Year’s Day with a Peace Walk to the site of the battle in Northumberland.

 A Peace Garden has been planted and Amnesty International described the tour : 

 “ Visitors will be given a guided tour through the progressive zones of the horseshoe shaped garden moving from the dark spiky plants of the conflict zone to the rich colours and pond in the reconciliation area. A Peace Plough Sculpture has been loaned.”

“The centre will also host a speaker programme and a series of music and arts events all focused on finding peace and reconciliation in today’s world.”

The Flodden Peace and Reconciliation Centre

The Peace Garden near the historic battlefield is an example of the use of public spaces and symbols of peaceful reflection to promote the culture of peace.

There are much bigger examples of the promotion of peace through contemporary historical events such as Coventry nowadays  a Peace and Reconciliation City  (Link )

The Midlands city is twinned with Volgograd - formerly Stalingrad - and Dresden, all three of which suffered greatly from bombing in World War II.

Coventry awards an annual International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation (link)

The prize is described as “ honouring initiatives, organisations, individuals or projects that have made an exemplary contribution in working for peace and reconciliation, or in campaigns for social and environmental well-being.

“It is oriented to the grass-roots and local communities, rather than the international media or diplomacy and open to all irrespective of nationality, ethnicity or faith.”

The Flodden Peace and Reconciliation Centre was officially opened on 8th, May to mark the work of the Red Cross which celebrates its 150th, anniversary this year.

Sadly 150 years on from its foundation, the work of the Red Cross has to continue and today it is making appeals for donations for those in the middle of a humanitarian crisis :

“The number of Syrian refugees forced to flee the country has passed two million, and still more are struggling to survive inside Syria.”

  Battles and wars exemplify the famous saying “ We learn from history that we do not learn from history” 

 However, war is not inevitable, and violence is not an inherited biological imprint, John Horgan argues in his book “The End of War” .

 Horgan offers optimism :

 “If political leaders and citizens are committed to the goal of ending international war, and finding nonviolent means of resolving disputes, they can end armed conflict at any time and start cutting back on their armies.

 “Those who find this possibility unlikely should consider the remarkably rapid—and nonviolent—end of the Soviet Union.”




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