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Durham University

Durham University News


Enduring interest in the fate of the Scottish Soldiers

(16 December 2019)

In the six years since we found a mass grave of 17th century prisoners on Durham University land, our Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project has captivated thousands of people across the world.

A classroom of thousands

In April we launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) all about the Scottish Soldiers project. The free, six-week course had over 2000 participants from 104 countries.

The course was so successful that we will be running it again in January 2020 and you can follow the link below to sign up. 

In early December we also hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit, giving people across the world a chance to ask our archaeologists all about the project.

The project team has also written an award-winning book, taken part in countless interviews and given talks to over 5000 people across the UK and in the USA, where descendants of the Scottish Soldiers still live.

Award-winning creativity and communications

This summer we hosted an exhibition about the project, and the archaeological study of human remains, which won a regional Living North award for Performance of the Year. This has led to three travelling exhibitions, touring not only the UK but also key sites related to the story of the Scottish Soldiers in the USA. 

Our archaeology team has supported a number of creative initiatives including theatre productions, a short film and songwriters, all inspired by the discovery of the story of the Scottish Soldiers.

We also took part in filming for the TV show Who Do You Think You Are USA, where actor Jon Cryer discovered his ancestral links to the Scottish Soldiers.

These creative projects support our commitment to sharing the story of the Scottish Soldiers and the decisions around taken reburial and commemoration. In June this work won a national award from the Chartered Institute for Public Relations.

More to come

Whilst the remains of the Scottish Soldiers were reburied in May 2018, the project is by no means over.

Next year the project team will be delving further into the archives to learn more about life in 17th century Scotland and how the surviving soldiers, who were transported to the USA as indentured servants, established themselves in their new home.

This new research is funded by NHSCOT who preserve and promote Scottish culture for future generations.

Find out more:

  • Read all about the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project
  • Sign up for the next run of the MOOC – Archaeology and the Battle of Dunbar 1650: From the Scottish Battlefield to the New World - here
  • Find out more about studying archaeology at Durham University
  • Find out more about NHSCOT who is supporting the next stage of research into the story of the Scottish Soldiers

Events at Durham University

Check out our new What's On guide to keep up-to-date with dance, drama, lectures, exhibitions, family activities and much more.