The pomp and ceremony which marked the arrival of the body of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral was a truly historic occasion.
As the last English king to be killed in battle, at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, it would now be fitting to focus attention on discovering the remains of the last Scottish king to be killed in battle. That was, of course James IV, who was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Following the battle his disfigured corpse was taken to Berwick, where it was embalmed and placed in a lead coffin before being transported to London.
The body of James was left to moulder in the woodshed of Sheen monastery and the corpse was forgotten about.
His head, however, was taken to Great St Michael’s Church in Wood Street in the city of London, where it was dumped into a charnel pit, the last resting place of stray bones.
The monastery of Sheen was eventually demolished and whether the king’s headless corpse was buried there we shall probably never know, as it is now the site of a golf course. The church in Wood Street was also done away with and today after several redevelopments is occupied by a pub.
It was a sad, ignominious end for one of Scotland’s most charismatic warrior kings, but perhaps it is he who will have the last laugh, as the pub under which his head is said to rest is not called The King’s Head, but The Red Herring.