An Evening with Durham’s Scottish Soldiers

by Jessica Watters

On the evening of the 23rd of April 2018, Café Scientifique was pleased to run a unique event which brought together students and Sheraton Park residents alike to learn about the stories of the Scottish Soldiers whose remains were uncovered during the building development work at the Palace Green Library in Durham, 2013.

Café Scientifique invited the Department of Archaeology’s own Dr Anwen Caffell and Dr Pam Graves who form part of the group of key researchers involved in the project. Anwen Caffell talked about the process of excavating the remains, including the challenges of getting the digger into the centre of the library! We were then introduced to the information gathered from the skeletons, such as their ages, their physical health, injuries and dental health. Most interestingly, we were given a glimpse of some of the cutting-edge science that was used to determine the geographical origins of these soldiers. Pam Graves then took us through the story of the Battle of Dunbar (1650) and the events that followed in the weeks and months after it was over. We found out that during the time the Durham Cathedral became a temporary hospital for the sick and injured in battle. We were then taken on a global journey tracing the footsteps of survivors of the battle with some ending up as far away as the United States of America!

The story of the Dunbar Scottish soldiers is far from over, with new research constantly expanding and enriching the history of the descendants of those who survived the 1650 Battle of Dunbar. In fact, the event was perfectly timed as the exhibition called Bodies of Evidence about the Scottish Soldiers is now up and running from the 9th June to 7th October 2018 at the Palace Green Library. For anyone who wasn’t able to come along to this event, Café Scientifique would like to encourage everyone to go along and visit the exhibition or look at the Department of Archaeology blog dedicated to the cutting edge research used to learn about the Scottish Soldiers: http://community.dur.ac.uk/scottishsoldiers/

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