31/10/2016
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

New research reveals fate of 17th-century Scottish soldiers who survived Battle of Dunbar

3aa3897a-4964-4f94-a058-69b89d1def4e

A new paper has been published examining the fate of the Scottish soldiers who survived the Battle of Dunbar of 1650 and were held captive in Durham. Read about the discovery of the skeletons of Dunbar soldiers in Durham.

Drawing on over 40 sources of documentary evidence, the paper, written by experts at the University of Durham, 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 Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal and short battles of the 17th Century civil wars. The Royalist-supporting Scottish Covenanting army, led by General David Leslie was defeated in less than an hour by Oliver Cromwell’s English Parliamentarian army. Following defeat, thousands of surviving Scottish soldiers were marched over 100 miles from Dunbar in South East Scotland to Durham in North East England. 
 
Around 3,000 soldiers were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle, at a time when the Cathedral (pictured) was empty and abandoned. Skeletons of some of the soldiers who died in the battle (pictured above) were discovered in 2013 at a site close to Durham Cathedral.
 
The new research 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. Following imprisonment, some of the surviving soldiers were sent to work at sites locally, including the salt pans in South Shields, whilst others were sent south to help drain The Fens in the East of England or on to France and Ireland for military service. However, it is those soldiers who were sent to the USA about which the most is known.
 
A NEW LIFE OVERSEAS
 
Through records from both sides of the Atlantic, Dr Pam Graves, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and author of the paper has been able to develop a deeper understanding of how this came about and the life that awaited these men.
 
Dr Graves said: “There is a wealth of information about the fate of the Scottish soldiers during and after their imprisonment in Durham, but it is only when you draw all this together that you get a real sense of what became of these men.
 
“Many were sent as indentured servants, to work for a contracted length of time in order to earn their release. Documents from the time tell us the names of the soldiers sent to the USA, where they were sent to and even the name of the ship they voyaged in.
 
“Tracing their names through history also shows us what these men did once they were released from indenture. Some went on to become successful farmers and we know there are many descendants of these men still living in the USA today.”
 
The project team has recently travelled to the USA to meet descendants of some of the soldiers who were sent there nearly 400 years ago, and learn more about their lives.The new publication also explores the men who made up the Scots Army, the Battle itself and its aftermath in detail.
 
For more on the paper, and the Battle of Dunbar reburial project, visit the Durham University website.
 
 
 
 
(Images: skeleton copyright North News and Pictures; cathedral copyright tilman37)

Back to "Scottish history" Category

31/10/2016 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Inventor and engineer James Watt was born - On this day in history

James Watt, inventor of the condensor, which helped make the Industrial Revolution possible, was born on 19 ...


Sir John Pringle died - On this day in Scottish history

Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society and physician to King George III, died on 18 January 1782. ...


The Duddingston Curling Society was founded - On this day in history

On 17 January 1795, the Duddingston Curling Society became the first formally organised curling club in the ...


Restored Mary Queen of Scots statue to take pride of place in Linlithgow in time for Month of MQS

A much-loved statue of Mary Queen of Scots has been restored and will be on display at Linlithgow Museum, as ...


Other Articles

Caithness novelist Neil Gunn died - On this day in history

Scottish novelist Neil M Gunn, author of The Silver Darlings, died on 15 January 1973. ...


Greyfriars Bobby died - On this day in history

Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful terrier said to have kept vigil at his master's grave for fourteen years, died ...


New two-year academic research project will explore how the legend of Mary Queen of Scots has impacted society and culture

More than forty international academics and curators are to join a project led by the University of Glasgow, ...


Seven history books we can’t wait to read in 2019

The coming year looks set to be a great one for history publishing. Here, we present seven books we’re ...