Permanent headstone marks Scottish soldiers resting place
The headstone has been installed at the grave of the 17th Century Scottish soldiers buried in Durham City, providing a permanent marker of their resting place.
The remains of the soldiers were discovered in a mass grave during building work at the University’s Palace Green Library in 2013. In keeping with archaeological best practice, only those remains disturbed by the building works were excavated.
17th Century tradition
Carved by hand using local stone, the headstone has been designed in the tradition of the 17th Century.
The wording on the stone was chosen following extensive consultation and reads:
‘Here lie the remains of those Scottish soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar who died in Durham 1650-51, were excavated from Palace Green Library in 2013, and were reburied here on 18 May 2018’.
Following extensive consultation, the remains were laid to rest in Elvet Hill Road Cemetery in Durham City in May 2018.
Research led by our Department of Archaeology allowed us to confirm that the remains were those of Scottish soldiers, held prisoner in Durham after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.
The research answered a mystery of almost 400 years as to where the soldiers’ remains had been buried.
The headstone provides a dignified and fitting marker for the grave, and somewhere that visitors can come to pay their respects.
The University also unveiled a plaque in 2017, dedicated to the soldiers, in the courtyard café of Palace Green Library, where their remains were discovered during construction work in 2013.
Research on the remains has provided fascinating insights into the lives of the soldiers, and is currently the subject of a free online course developed by the archaeologists who had dedicated their skills to discovering the stories of these men.
Find out more
Visit the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project web pages
Watch a range of videos about the project on our Scottish Soldiers YouTube playlist
Take part in our free online course about the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project here
(28 Jun 2019)
Seventeenth Century Scottish soldiers reburied in Durham
The remains of Seventeenth Century Scottish soldiers, discovered during construction work at the University’s Palace Green Library in 2013, have been reburied in Durham City.
The remains of the soldiers, who were imprisoned and died in Durham following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, were laid to rest at Elvet Hill Road Cemetery, less than a mile from the original exhumation site on Palace Green, part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Reflecting Seventeenth Century traditions
A simple graveside service was held and the remains were reburied in a bespoke casket. Both the service and casket were intended to reflect the traditions of the Seventeenth Century.
During the reburial service attendees were given the opportunity to scatter a handful of Scottish soil into the grave, in acknowledgement of the origins of many of the soldiers.
Professor Chris Gerrard, of the Department of Archaeology, said: “It has been a privilege to research these soldiers and, having learnt so much from their remains, it was important to us to lay them to rest with respect and dignity.
“Today we are able to give these men the burial they were denied when they died almost 400 years ago.”
Respectful and dignified
The reburial service was designed by Durham Cathedral, and representatives from the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church were invited to comment, to ensure a respectful and dignified final committal.
Metrical Psalms from the 1650 Scottish Psalter and a Bible reading from the 1611 King James Version were included in the service, to ensure it reflected the traditions of the Seventeenth Century.
Canon Rosalind Brown, Durham Cathedral, said: “The simple graveside ceremony not only reflects the traditions of the Seventeenth Century but is also respectful of the circumstances that led to these men dying in Durham.
“The service draws on the liturgical materials principally from Scottish traditions and the rites of the Church of Scotland, and in a spirit of ecumenism and reconciliation, honours the memory of the soldiers and commends them to God.”
Speaking about the decision to have a graveside service, rather than a service in Durham Cathedral, Canon Rosalind Brown said: “A service in an Anglican church, and in particular a service within Durham Cathedral, would be inappropriate given the history of these men and the fact that, although not used as a place of worship at this time, the Cathedral represented a place of imprisonment for them.”
The reburial service was open to all and Durham University invited groups and individuals who have taken an interest in the project, together with community representatives from Dunbar and Durham, and academics who undertook research on the remains, to attend the service and pay their last respects.
In due course a simple headstone will mark the grave, the wording for which was agreed in consultation with members of the public. The headstone will read:
“Here lie the remains of those Scottish soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar who died in Durham 1650-1651, were excavated from Palace Green Library in 2013, and were reburied here on 18 May 2018.”
Piecing together the soldiers stories
Following discovery of the remains in November 2013, analysis by experts from the University’s Department of Archaeology concluded that they were those of Scottish soldiers taken prisoner after the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, solving a centuries-old mystery about what became of those soldiers who died in Durham.
The reburial follows the completion of research work on the remains, led by the Department of Archaeology, which has so far revealed fascinating details about the early lives of the soldiers and their health.
Professor David Cowling, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Arts and Humanities) at Durham University, said: “Through the discovery of these remains, and the research on them, we have been granted a privileged insight into the lives of the soldiers.
“The research findings are helping us to piece together the story of their lives.
“Through this work we hope to give a voice back to these individuals, who were captured at the Battle of Dunbar before being held prisoner, and sadly dying, here in Durham.”
The full findings from the research programme are due to be published later in 2018 and a small sample of teeth has been retained from the skeletons to allow for future research as new techniques and opportunities become available.
Short and brutal battle
The Battle of Dunbar was one of the shortest and most brutal battles of the Seventeenth Century civil wars. In less than an hour the English Parliamentarian army, under the command of Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Scottish Covenanting army who supported the claims of Charles II to the Scottish throne.
After the battle thousands of soldiers were marched over 100 miles from the South East of Scotland to Durham in North East England. Around 3,000 soldiers were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle, at a time when the Cathedral was empty and abandoned.
An estimated 1,700 prisoners from the battle died and were buried in Durham.
Those that survived imprisonment in Durham were transported to different parts of the world including France and New England, USA, where they worked as indentured servants.
Full details of the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project are available on line here.
(11 Jun 2018)
New image brings people face to face with Seventeenth Century Scottish soldier
The face of one of the Seventeenth Century Scottish soldiers who was imprisoned and died in Durham following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 has been revealed through a remarkable new digital reconstruction.
Looking into the past
Following the discovery in 2013 Durham University has continued to conduct research on the remains, using a host of modern archaeological techniques to learn as much as possible about these individuals.
To complement this work the university asked experts at Face Lab, based at Liverpool John Moores University, to create a digital reconstruction of one of the skulls.
Professor Chris Gerrard, of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology and Project Lead for the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project, said: “Durham University wanted to work with Face Lab as they specialise in the reconstruction of faces for archaeological and forensic purposes.
“We wanted to take our research into these individuals one step further and really help people to relate to the Scottish soldiers.
“The resulting image is a poignant opportunity to come face to face with a young man who lived and died over 300 years ago.”
Re-assembly and reconstruction
The process of developing the reconstruction included careful re-assembly of the skull to allow for a detailed digital scan to be undertaken by experts from Face Lab.
The digital scan was then used, together with information from Durham University’s research on the age of the individual at death, to build up the facial features.
A previously unidentified facial scar on the individual was identified through the scanning process and has been included in the final image.
Professor Caroline Wilkinson, of Face Lab, said: “This unique facial image was created using the very latest techniques housed at Liverpool John Moores University’s Face Lab.
“This combines 3D craniofacial depiction system with digital modelling software and facial and anatomical datasets, which can provide the most accurate and lifelike, images of an array of fascinating archaeological and forensic art depictions.
“In this case, our collaboration with Durham University enabled us to draw on scans and data to create the most accurate and lifelike image possible to enable a true glimpse into the past of this Scottish soldier and how his life had been lived.
“It will join a collection of work by Face Lab reconstructing historical figures including Robert the Bruce, Richard III and St Nicholas.”
The soldier is depicted wearing the blue bonnet, brown jacket and shirt typical of Scottish soldiers of the time.
Childhood health and history
The reconstruction is based on the skull of a male, known only to the project team as ‘Skeleton 22’.
Analysis of Skeleton 22, led by experts at Durham University, has also uncovered that the he was aged between 18 and 25 when he died, had suffered periods of poor nutrition during childhood and had lived in South West Scotland during the 1630s.
Professor Chris Gerrard said: “Analysis of the dental calculus has revealed a lot about the conditions in which this man, known to us only as ‘Skeleton 22’, grew up.
“This information combined with the digital facial reconstruction gives us a remarkable, and privileged, glimpse into this individual’s past.”
A full osteobiography (based on a study of both the remains and documentary evidence) of Skeleton 22 and description of how the digital reconstruction was undertaken are available online.
The remains of the Scottish soldiers were originally discovered in November 2013, on Palace Green on Durham City’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Analysis by experts from Durham University’s Department of Archaeology concluded that they were those of Scottish soldiers taken prisoner after the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, solving a near 400 year old mystery about what became of those soldiers who died in Durham.
Research on the remains, led by the University’s Department of Archaeology, is ongoing and the team is combining this with study of historical documents from the period. The aim is to learn more about where the soldiers came from, their health and what illnesses they suffered from at different stages of their lives.
In autumn 2016 the research team also visited the USA to learn more about what became of those soldiers who, following imprisonment in Durham, were later transported to areas including Massachusetts and Maine, USA. These soldiers worked as indentured servants in ironworks and sawmills.
Once research on the remains is completed they will be reburied at the Elvet Hill Road Cemetery in Durham City, close to where the remains were originally found. The decision on where to rebury the remains was taken following extensive consultation and mindful of the University’s ethical, moral and legal responsibilities.
Battle of Dunbar
The Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal and short battles of the Seventeenth Century civil wars, after which thousands of soldiers were marched over 100 miles from the South East of Scotland to Durham in North East England. Around 3,000 soldiers were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle, at a time when the Cathedral was empty and abandoned.
Of those who survived imprisonment in Durham some were employed locally in coal mines, at salt pans and as weavers whilst others were sent to King’s Lynn to help with drainage projects on the Fens. Some soldiers were sent to France to fight or crossed the Atlantic to places such as Barbados and New England, USA, where they worked as indentured servants.
In 2018 Durham University will host an exhibition about the Scottish Soldiers and the archaeological research that has helped uncover their story. The exhibition entitled Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret will be held at the University’s Palace Green Library, which is part of the complex of buildings where the remains were found in 2013.
You can watch a video about the facial reconstruction process here.
You can also see a short 3D video of the facial reconstruction here.
(13 Dec 2017)
Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project shortlisted for prestigious award
The Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project has been shortlisted for Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at this year’s Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.
The awards, which are in their 13th year, are known as the ‘Oscars of Higher Education’. There are 19 categories in total, covering the full range of university activity.
Speaking about the shortlisting, Professor Chris Gerrard, Research Team Lead for the project said; “It is wonderful to see the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project recognised in this way.
“The project has been fascinating to work on and the whole team has been committed to restoring a voice to the soldiers and giving those connected with their story the opportunity to reconnect with their heritage.
“We are looking forward to the awards ceremony in November.”
THE editor John Gill said: "Once again these awards have attracted hundreds of entries from the length and breadth of the nation, and from institutions of every hue.
“All those shortlisted can be immensely proud to have made it through this first phase, and we at Times Higher Education look forward to honouring the winners for their talent, creativity and commitment at a time for the academy when these qualities are increasingly essential."
The project team is continuing their work to complete research on the remains of the Scottish Soldiers. It is hoped that further announcements about research findings will be made later in 2017. Reburial of the remains will take place once the research programme has been completed.
The Times Higher Education Awards ceremony will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London on Thursday 30 November 2017.
(7 Sep 2017)
Videos from Scottish Soldiers commemorative event available online
Two videos, filmed during the Scottish soldiers’ commemorative event on 12 May 2017 are now available to view on line.
The first video shows the speeches given by Professor Stuart Corbridge, the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, Professor David Cowling, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Arts and Humanities and Professor Chris Gerrard, Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team Lead, at the commemorative event. You can view the speeches online here.
The second video shows the public lecture by Dr Pam Graves from the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team and Professor Emerson Baker of Salem State University, USA, which was held in the evening of 12 May 2017. The video of the public lecture is available to watch here.
(31 May 2017)
Scottish soldiers commemorated in Durham
The seventeenth Century Scottish soldiers, who were imprisoned and died in Durham following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, were commemorated with a series of events in the City on Friday 12 May 2017.
Durham University hosted an event to dedicate a new plaque, as a lasting memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives in Durham. A minute’s silence was also observed.
The plaque has been installed in the courtyard of the café at the University’s Palace Green Library, within the City’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was during construction work for this courtyard that the remains of the soldiers were discovered in a mass grave in 2013.
Speaking ahead of the event Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, said: “The plaque will serve as a permanent memorial to the soldiers’ presence here on Palace Green.
“Since the discovery of the remains in 2013, experts from the University’s Department of Archaeology have undertaken a significant programme of research to learn more about the lives of the soldiers, including what became of those who survived.
“It is our intention through this project to give these individuals a voice in our history.”
An existing plaque within Durham Cathedral, installed in 2011 in memory of the Scottish soldiers, has also been updated to remove the reference to the soldiers’ place of burial being unknown. The updated plaque was rededicated today, with special prayers and a blessing during the Cathedral’s Evensong service.
Canon Rosalind Brown, of Durham Cathedral, said: “The updated plaque within Durham Cathedral, and the new plaque at Palace Green Library, provide an important commemoration of those soldiers who lost their lives and one which we hope honours their memory in a dignified manner.”
Battle site links
The plaque at Palace Green Library is mounted on stone cut from the quarry which now operates on the site where the Battle of Dunbar took place in 1650. The plaque’s inscription and imagery were designed in consultation with stakeholders, including direct descendants of soldiers who survived the battle and subsequent imprisonment.
In addition to events to dedicate plaques at Palace Green Library and Durham Cathedral, a public lecture about the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project was also held at Palace Green Library.
The lecture was jointly delivered by Dr Pam Graves of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology and Professor Emerson Baker of Salem State University Massachusetts. A video of this lecture and a video of the commemorative event held at Palace Green Library, are available online here.
Research on the remains is ongoing and has so far revealed fascinating details about the early lives of the soldiers and their health.
The research findings are helping to piece together the stories of the soldiers.
Professor David Cowling, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Arts and Humanities at Durham University, said: “Through the discovery of these remains, and the ongoing research on them, we have been granted a privileged insight into the lives of the soldiers.
“The University plans to share their stories through an exhibition at Palace Green Library in 2018 which will be entitled Lost Lives, Hidden Voices: Unlocking the Story of the Scottish Soldiers 1650-2018.
“Our hope is that this exhibition will give people the opportunity to learn more about the lives of these soldiers, and the fascinating archaeological research which has helped us to get to know them better.”
Once research on the remains is completed they will be reburied at the Elvet Hill Road Cemetery in Durham City, close to where the remains were originally found.
The decision on where to rebury the remains was taken following extensive consultation and mindful of the University’s ethical, moral and legal responsibilities. More information about the decisions taken on reburial is available here.
(12 May 2017)
Work to begin on commemorative plaque
In February Professor Chris Gerrard, academic lead for the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project, and Michael Forster from the University Estates and Buildings Team, travelled to Dunbar to discuss the selection of stone for the commemorative plaque.
The stone for the plaque is kindly being donated by Tarmac who own the quarry that now operates on the site where the Battle of Dunbar took place in 1650.
Professor Gerrard along with Kevin Hale from St Astier, whose stonemasons will be carving the plaque, met with Dave Hurcombe, Quarry Manager from Tarmac. They were able to enter the quarry to look at the stone available and discuss its properties in relation to the requirements for a commemorative plaque.
The quarry mines two types of limestone and the team were able to collect samples of both to allow St Astier to carry out tests to ensure it was suitable for carving.
Professor Gerrard said: “The visit to the quarry was an important step forward in our plans to commemorate those soldiers who survived the Battle of Dunbar, were imprisoned in Durham and sadly died.
“That the stone for the commemorative plaque will come from the site of the Battle provides a touching connection between the site and the location where a significant number of the surviving soldiers died.”
Following the initial tests, which confirmed that the stone is suitable for carving, arrangements will be made for a portion of stone from the Dunbar quarry to be delivered directly to St Astier to allow them to begin carving the commemorative plaque.
Mr Hurcombe said: "We are delighted to be supporting such an interesting project and are very much looking forward to seeing how the stone will be used for the commemorative plaque."
The design for the plaque was selected through an open consultation process in autumn 2016. The plaque will feature the inscription:
“In memory of the Scottish soldiers captured at the Battle of Dunbar and imprisoned in Durham, who died and were buried here in the autumn of 1650.”
This will be accompanied by images of both the Saltire and the thistle.
The plaque will be dedicated at a commemorative event in the coming months, details of which will be announced soon.
For more information about this event please email the project team at Scottish.firstname.lastname@example.org
(9 Mar 2017)
Story of the Scottish Soldiers spreads on both sides of the Atlantic
Over the last few weeks the story of the Scottish soldiers who journeyed to America has spread both in the UK and the United States.
Following the Project Team’s trip to Massachusetts in October 2016 the American daily newspaper the Boston Globe featured a story about the Scottish soldiers who were sold as indentured servants in the US, and their descendants who live on today. The full article, which was part of the regional ‘North’ edition of the Boston Globe in early January, is available here. The story has also been the subject of an article in the Scotsman newspaper, which you can read here.
The Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team is in touch with a number of descendants of those soldiers who were transported to the United States. The aim is to explore their stories further to learn more about the history of these men.
Project Team member Dr Pam Graves has written a paper entitled ‘The Dunbar Diaspora’ which explores the background and aftermath of the Battle of Dunbar. This paper includes details of what became of those soldiers who survived imprisonment in Durham, including those who were sent to the United States.
(27 Jan 2017)
Final design for commemorative plaque announced
The final design for a plaque to commemorate the Scottish soldiers who were imprisoned, died and buried in Durham has been announced following the consultation earlier this year.
The commemorative plaque will feature the following inscription:
“In memory of the Scottish soldiers captured at the Battle of Dunbar and imprisoned in Durham, who died and were buried here in the autumn of 1650.”
This will be accompanied by images of both the Saltire and the thistle.
The final design brings together the wording and imagery options that received the most votes during the online consultation that was undertaken earlier this year. In total over 90 responses were received to the online consultation.
The stone for the plaque will be sourced from the site of the Battle of Dunbar and will be carved in County Durham.
Once completed, the plaque will be mounted on the wall of the courtyard in the Palace Green Library Café. It was during construction of this courtyard that the remains of the Scottish Soldiers were found in 2013.
An event to commemorate the soldiers and unveil the plaque is planned for 2017. If you would like more information about this event please email the project team at Scottish.email@example.com
Once installed the commemorative plaque will be accessible for all to view without any obligation to visit the museum or the café.
(9 Dec 2016)
New paper on the fate of the survivors of the Battle of Dunbar
The Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team has published a new paper examining the fate of the 17th Century Scottish soldiers who survived the Battle of Dunbar and were held captive in Durham City.
Drawing on over 40 sources of documentary evidence, the paper offers new insight into how those who survived imprisonment in Durham were sent to work at sites across England and as far afield as the USA and Barbados.
The paper uses sources including correspondence and state papers from the time, as well as research published on the subject since, to track the fate of the surviving soldiers.
The new publication also explores the men who made up the Scots Army, the Battle itself and its aftermath in detail.
The paper, entitled “The Dunbar Diaspora: Background to the Battle of Dunbar and the aftermath of the Battle” is available to read online in the Academic Papers section of the website.
(31 Oct 2016)
Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team takes research to USA
The Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team is taking its research to the USA from 25-28 October 2016.
The team will spend four days in Massachusetts, where it is known that 150 soldiers, who survived the Battle of Dunbar and imprisonment in Durham, were sent to work as indentured servants at sites including Saugus Ironworks.
During the week the team will host a number of meetings, talks and lectures including:
- Meetings with descendants of soldiers who were transported to New England to share knowledge and learn more about the history of these men.
- A public lecture in conjunction with Saugus Ironworks National Park.
- Lectures at prestigious US universities Harvard, Brown and Boston University, to share their fascinating research with other academics.
The team will also visit sites of archaeological significance in Maine relating the Scottish Soldiers.
You can follow the team’s activities in Massachusetts via the Durham University Department of Archaeology’s twitter account @ArcDurham and the project hashtag #ScotsSoldiers. The team will also be writing a post about their trip for the Scottish Soldiers Research Blog in November.
(25 Oct 2016)
Consultation opens on design for plaque to commemorate Scottish soldiers
Durham University has launched a consultation on the proposed design for a plaque to commemorate the Scottish soldiers who died following the Battle of Dunbar.
The consultation offers the opportunity for participants to vote for one of three inscription options for the plaque, as well as on options for imagery to accompany the wording. The options reflect the suggestions received during earlier stages of the project.
You can participate in the consultation on-line here. Anyone who is unable to participate via the on-line tool should contact the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The plaque, which will be made from stone cut from the site of the Battle of Dunbar, will be installed as close as possible to the site where the remains of the soldiers were discovered in 2013.
The consultation runs from 24 October – 6 November 2016. The final design for the plaque will reflect the majority outcome of the consultation.
(24 Oct 2016)
Remains of 17th Century Scottish soldiers to be laid to rest in Durham
Following extensive consultation, Durham University has decided that the remains of the soldiers, discovered in a mass grave on the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be reburied in Durham City.
It is intended that the soldiers’ final resting place will be the Elvet Hill Road Cemetery in Durham City, less than a mile from where their remains were discovered in November 2013. They will also be commemorated with a plaque near to the site where they were discovered.
Reburial will take place once the current programme of research on the remains is completed; this is likely to be sometime in late 2017.
Durham University will apply to the Ministry of Justice to extend the timescale of the exhumation licence, to allow this research to be completed. More information about the research is available on a dedicated Scottish Soldiers Project Research Blog.
A small sample of teeth will be retained from the skeletons to allow for future research as new techniques and opportunities become available.
The University’s Project Team has undertaken wide-ranging consultation to help inform its decisions about what should happen next to the remains.
Professor David Cowling, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts and Humanities at Durham University, said: "The decision on where to rebury the soldiers was very complex.
"We were acutely aware of the strength and depth of interest amongst many about the fate of these soldiers, whilst at the same time recognising our ethical, moral and legal obligations.
"All options were explored fully by the project team and in the end it was felt that the case for reburying the remains in Durham was strongest."
More about these decisions is available on the Reburial and Commemoration pages.
(24 Aug 2016)
Project consultation – decisions pending
The Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team are currently working through the extensive and wide ranging commentary and information received during a consultation which aimed to determine the next steps for the project.
Consultation events and meetings were held in Dunbar, Scotland and Durham, England, and there have been submissions in writing.
A research programme, which received very positive feedback, is now underway and is being chronicled in a recently established research blog
Decisions regarding what will happen to the remains of the individuals, and their commemoration, will be announced in due course.
Professor Chris Gerrard, Head of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, said: “We’re pleased that the project continues to capture the interests of a regional, national and international audience, and we would like to thank all who engaged in the consultation period for their contributions.
“The research programme is now underway and we hope people will enjoy reading about it via our newly established blog.
“We are still considering the extensive and wide ranging information we received during our consultation on other aspects of the project, and will be announcing further details in due course.”
“Comments from interested individuals are, as ever, welcomed via email@example.com”
(18 May 2016)
New research blog for Scottish Soldiers Archaeology project
First-hand accounts of research being carried out on the remains of 17th Century Scottish Soldiers will feature in a new blog launched by Durham University’s Department of Archaeology.
A number of remains were discovered in two mass graves during building work at Palace Green library in November 2013. After extensive analysis, it was confirmed in September 2015 that the remains were those of Scottish Soldiers who had fought in the 1650 Battle of Dunbar.
In response to significant global public interest in the project, the blog will provide regular posts from the archaeologists who are continuing to analyse the remains as well as those carrying out historical research. Over the next few weeks the blog will share the archaeologists’ progress as they record the bones digitally using 3D modelling techniques.
Professor Chris Gerrard, Head of Archaeology at Durham University, said:
"Our Scottish Soldiers Archaeology project has had a huge level of public interest from around the world, and many people have contacted us wanting to know and understand more about the individuals that were found and excavated in Durham.
"Readers of this new blog will gain a fascinating insight into what happens in the laboratory, where leading archaeologists will be carrying out cutting-edge scientific investigations with the bones and teeth of these individuals.
"They can read first-hand accounts of our investigations, which will also include historical research, as well as see pictures and videos of the work taking place.
"In time we hope to discover much more about these people, which could include where they came from, what they ate and what kind of diseases or medical conditions they may have had, adding to our knowledge of this turbulent period of British history."
The Scottish Soldiers Blog is available at this link.
(29 Apr 2016)
Full house for Durham Castle Scottish Soldiers archaeology event
Around 200 people packed out Durham Castle's Great Hall on Monday (1 February) to hear about the Scottish Soldiers archaeology project and to give their views.
The audience included the Mayor of Durham, local councillors, representatives from the Battlefields Trust and Historic England as well as current and former staff and students of Durham University
The five-strong project team from the Department of Archaeology and Archaeological Services Durham University, presented their analysis and then took questions from the floor. They were joined by University Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Cowling, and Canon Rosalind Brown of Durham Cathedral.
There were questions from the audience about the health of the soldiers, including their diet; the damage they were alleged to have inflicted on Durham Cathedral during their imprisonment there and queries about research, commemoration and reburial.
Professor Chris Gerrard, head of the Department of Archaeology and research team lead said: "We would like to thank everybody who came and showed an interest in our work and for participating in what was a lively question and answer session.
"We will now be considering the impressive level of feedback gained over the last few months, including the views shared at our first public event in Dunbar in November, when making our decisions on what should happen next to the soldiers."
The University team expects to make an announcement on next steps in Spring this year (2016).
(2 Feb 2016)
Public event in Durham Castle - all welcome
The Scottish Soldiers project team will hold their second public event in Durham Castle (Great Hall), Durham City, at 8pm on Monday 1 February.
Attendance is free of charge and all are welcome to attend but please note that due to venue capacity, this event will be open on a first come first served basis.
The Durham University archaeology team, joined by Canon Rosalind Brown of Durham Cathedral, will present their findings and ask for feedback on further research, reburial and commemoration.
The event follows on from the project’s first public event held in Dunbar, Scotland, in November, which was well attended by representatives from a range of organisations and public bodies and interested individuals.
Professor Chris Gerrard, Head of the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, who led the research team, said:
“We want to give people in Durham and North East England an opportunity to hear more about something which is part of their history and heritage and to have a say on what happens next.
“Durham Castle is a fitting location for our second public event as, along with Durham Cathedral, it was a prison for the Scottish soldiers who were marched to the City after the Battle of Dunbar.
“The individuals we found were buried in what would have been, in the mid-17th Century, the bottom of the Castle garden.”
WHERE: Durham Castle (Great Hall), Durham University, Palace Green
WHEN: 8pm –9.15pm Monday 1 February 2016. Free of charge – all welcome but please note that due to venue capacity, this event will be open on a first come first served basis.
(Access to the Great Hall will be from 7:45pm)
(19 Jan 2016)
Public event in Dunbar
A public engagement event to discuss the Scottish Soldiers project took place in Dunbar, Scotland, on St Andrew’s Day (Monday 30 November).
The event at the Dunmuir Hotel was attended by a wide range of people, who included representatives from East Lothian Council, Dunbar Community Council, the local history society and The Sealed Knot, amongst others.
The event was held to gather a range of views on what happens next to the soldiers’ remains, covering further research, reburial and commemoration.
The Durham University archaeology team, joined by Canon Rosalind Brown of Durham Cathedral, presented their research findings, and a lively question, answer and feedback followed.
Professor Chris Gerrard, Head of the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, said: “Dunbar, Scotland, is where this story began, almost 400 years ago. There has been such a great expression of interest in our project from the locality that we chose to hold our event here.
“We received a wonderful welcome and we appreciated being able to hear, at first hand, the views of a range of people on the next steps for the Scottish soldiers.”
The University team also held meetings with organisations and individuals with a special interest in the project. They will consider all views before making their decisions in 2016.
(1 Dec 2015)
Public event to discuss next steps for Scottish Soldiers archaeology project
Durham University is inviting members of the public to hear more about its Scottish Soldiers archaeology project and to give views on what should happen to the remains.
A public consultation event will be held in Dunbar, Scotland, on 30 November, St Andrew’s Day. The Durham University archaeology team, joined by Canon Rosalind Brown of Durham Cathedral, will present their findings and ask for public feedback on the possibility of further research, reburial and commemoration.
Earlier this year, after extensive analysis, Durham University announced that the jumbled remains of at least 17 and up to 28 individuals, found in a mass grave in Durham city in North East England, were Scottish Soldiers who fought in the 1650 Battle of Dunbar.
The team gave a commitment to consult on the next steps, taking into consideration the views of a wide range of interested parties and organisations before making any decisions. The bodies will eventually need to be reburied – a condition of the exhumation licence issued by the Ministry of Justice.
Professor Chris Gerrard, Head of the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, who led the research team, said: “There has been a huge expression of interest in the project. We have been engaging with people and organisations from Scotland and throughout the UK and globally, some of whom have a view on what happens to the remains of the Scottish Soldiers.
“From the outset we have expressed our commitment to consulting widely on the next steps. Given the strong historical links with Dunbar we thought it fitting to bring our event there to give local people and interest groups a chance to hear from the researchers involved in the project and to give their opinions on further research, reburial, and commemoration.”
The Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal, bloody and short battles of the 17th Century civil wars. In less than an hour the English Parliamentarian army, under the command of Oliver Cromwell, defeated the Scottish Covenanting army who supported the claims of Charles II to the Scottish throne.
Although the exact figures are not known, it is thought that around 1,700 Scottish soldiers died of malnutrition, disease and cold after being marched over 100 miles from the South East of Scotland to Durham where they were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle, by then disused for several years. What happened to their bodies was a mystery for almost 400 years.
Andy Robertson, Archaeology Officer at East Lothian Council, Scotland, said: “The work of Durham University adds an exciting new element to the story of the Battle of Dunbar and to our understanding of the events surrounding the battle. This public consultation is a great opportunity to find out more about some of the participants in this famous battle.”
What: Durham University archaeologists to present findings from Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project and seek public feedback on next steps. All welcome on a first come, first served basis due to venue capacity.
Where: Goldenstones Suite, Dunmuir Hotel, Dunbar, Scotland (11 Newhouse Terrace, Queens Road, Dunbar EH42 1LG)
When: 7pm – 8.15pm 30 November 2015
Social media: #Scotssoldiers
(6 Nov 2015)
Worldwide interest in the Scottish Soldiers project
The announcement that the skeletons found in a mass grave at Durham’s UNESCO World Heritage Site were Scottish soldiers from the Battle of Dunbar gained international, national and regional coverage in the mass media and social media and on websites and blogs worldwide.
People and organisations from around the world have been in touch with the Durham University archaeology team to express their interest in the announcement and the project’s next steps.
There was blanket coverage in the UK’s media, spanning national BBC radio and TV, independent national and regional TV news and national UK broadsheet and tabloid newspapers.
Following up on the widespread news coverage the magazine History Today published an in-depth feature article by Professor Chris Gerrard and Dr Pam Graves, members of the team from Durham University’s Department of Archaeology.
Durham University, together with Durham Cathedral, is committed to working with interested parties and organisations to determine what will happen to the remains of the Scottish soldiers, including reburial, commemoration and, if appropriate, further research.
Other media coverage includes:
(16 Sep 2015)
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