THE bronze monument depicting the armour-clad soldier, captured English pennon fluttering behind him, has looked out from the front of Selkirk’s Victoria Halls for a century.
Erected to mark the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden in 1913, it was the first public memorial erected anywhere to mark the tragic defeat of King James IV and his army.
A century later and plans are well in hand to mark the 500th anniversary in September.
However, there has now been a call for more to be done. Ex-Scottish Borders councillor Kenneth Gunn says he would like to see efforts to establish the burial place of Fletcher, which legend holds was the only survivor of the town’s 80-strong contingent of local men which left the town in August 1513, to join King James IV’s doomed army at Ellemford near Duns.
It is said when Fletcher returned to Selkirk alone from the September 9 defeat, he arrived carrying the captured pennon of the Earl of Macclesfield. Too exhausted to speak, he waved the banner in the air before throwing it to the ground in despair – the moment captured by the town’s Flodden memorial.
Mr Gunn says he was informed by the late Andrew King that a relief plaque in the Murray Aisle in the town’s Auld Kirkyard, depicting a soldier clad in similar garb to the statue, is a clue to his final resting place.
“It was in my Selkirk Echo newspaper days that the late Andrew King had told me this story,” Mr Gunn told The Wee Paper this week.
He went on: “He said if you looked at it from the right angle you could make out this figure carved in relief.
“I’m not sure whether I believe what he told me and never been sure if it was anything other than a figment of his imagination that Fletcher is buried somewhere in the graveyard.
“But Andrew said he was told this by someone when he was young. Whatever the truth, someone came back from Flodden because we have the actual flag hanging in the town hall.
“And it was someone who came back from somewhere, on foot, with this flag, as horses weren’t too plentiful back then.
“So I definitely think there should be some efforts to try to locate this soldier’s last resting place – I think that would be a fitting thing to do during this, the 500th anniversary year of the battle.”
And Mr Gunn also feels a memorial of some sort should have been planned for a site where he claims the town’s original town centre had once been.
“I can remember that, five or six years ago, every time 500th commemorations were mentioned, it was suggested there should be something in the the town’s original centre which was said to be at the top of Kirk Wynd.
“When Fletcher came back from Flodden, it is said he threw the flag on the ground to show what had befallen the men – the ‘floo’ers o’ the forest are a’ wede away’ as the lyrics of the song say.
“So I think some money should have gone to a memorial at this spot, which would have been where the centre of the town orginally was.
“But we already have a memorial to those from the town who fought and died at Flodden, so perhaps it would’ve been nice to have a memorial to the people who were left behind – the women, children and elderly.”
However, local historian Walter Elliot says there are no records that anyone by the name of Fletcher existed in the town at the time of Flodden, much less was the only local solitary survivor. He added: “And the centre of the town was more or less where it is today.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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