Sylvia and John Harrop recently saw in Bamburgh Castle a piece of armour on display labelled ‘Breastplate reputedly Italian, in excavated condition, found at Settle in Yorkshire, possibly from Flodden, fluted, c.1510’.
Further enquiries were made of Bamburgh Castle; Lisa Waters, the Collections and Conservation Manager, explained that the breastplate was on loan from Tyne and Wear Museums. The Tyne and Wear Museums Archives (Lesley Richardson) in Newcastle have found no further information apart from a note that the armour was given to Tyne and Wear Museums along with another piece recorded as being found at the same site, recorded as Italian. The Royal Society of Antiquaries of London, it is thought, had enquired about the same piece in 2011 but they did not proceed with professional photography since it could not be authenticated. However, Bamburgh Castle were good enough to supply a photograph of the breastplate.
The battle of Flodden Field took place on 9 September 1513 near Branxton in Northumberland. The English defeated the Scots led by James IV resulting in 14,000 deaths, including that of James. The English were led by the Earl of Surrey, Lieut.- General of the northern counties of England, with the help of various lords and knights in the North Country. Henry Clifford, the Shepherd Lord of Barden Tower was given a principal command.
A list of fighting men from Giggleswick Parish, known as the Flodden Roll, is dated 1510 to 1511 and was discovered in the Household Book of Henry, Lord Clifford. Only a portion of the army roll has been discovered at Bolton Abbey - so it is not a complete list. The list is probably of those who took part rather than a full list of those liable for service to the Lord. Each man was obliged to provide himself with weapons according to means. If a man was not fit (able) he had to provide equipment for others.
Brayshaw and Robinson give full lists of the men and the weapons they owned and quote from a poem by Nicholson, ‘The Airedale Poet’, a line of which runs;
’From Langcliffe rode the fiery-hearted Browne, Whose well-aimed shots twice forty Scots struck down.’
Did this armour belong to one of these local men? Or perhaps it was taken from the battlefield as a trophy and brought back to Settle. Maybe only wealthier men could afford some armour. The apparently wealthiest men in the parish taxed at £5 and £20 who also appear in the Loan Book of 1522, the national taxation record of a (forced) loan to the King are;
AcknowledgementsWe are much obliged to:
Lesley Richardson, Assistant Keeper, Fine and Decorative Art, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle NE1 8AG. (The armour is on display at Bamburgh Castle not the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle).
Lisa Waters, Collections and Conservation Manager, Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69 7DF
© Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne (Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums)