12/05/2017
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Battle of Dunbar soldiers to be commemorated in Durham - latest updates

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17th-century Scottish soldiers killed at the Battle of Dunbar are to be commemorated in the City of Durham in a series of events, the University of Durham has announced.

Durham University will host an event tonight (12 May 2017) to dedicate a new plaque (pictured right), as a memorial to those soldiers who lost their lives in Durham. A minute’s silence will also be observed.

The plaque has been installed in the courtyard of the café at 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.

The new plaque is mounted on stone cut from the quarry located on the site where the Battle of Dunbar took place in 1650, whilst the plaque’s inscription and imagery were designed in consultation with stakeholders, who include direct descendants of soldiers who survived the battle and subsequent imprisonment.

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 will be rededicated today, with special prayers and a blessing during the Cathedral’s Evensong service.

About the Battle of Dunbar

The Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal and short battles of the 17th 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.

Giving a voice to the Battle of Dunbar soldiers

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.”

In addition to events to dedicate plaques at Palace Green Library and Durham Cathedral, a public lecture about the Scottish Soldiers and the research into the remains is also being held at Palace Green Library on 12 May. Research on the remains is ongoing and has so far revealed fascinating details about the early lives of soldiers and their health. 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.

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.”

(Images copyright Jeff Veitch, Durham University)

 

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