Battle of Dunbar’s final chapter unveiled

The plaque, mounted on stone cut from the site of the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, has been installed by Durham University, near the site of where the soldiers remains were discovered.
The plaque, mounted on stone cut from the site of the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, has been installed by Durham University, near the site of where the soldiers remains were discovered.

A lasting memorial to the Scottish soldiers taken prisoner at the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, and who died at Durham, has been unveiled.

The plaque dedicated to the 17th century soldiers has been installed in the courtyard of the café at Durham 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 and a major research project began to unearth the story of why they were there.

The Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal and short battles of the 17th century civil wars, after which around 3,000 soldiers were marched over 100 miles from Dunbar to Durham, where they were imprisoned in the cathedral and castle.

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.”

Mounted on stone cut from the quarry located 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.

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.

Stone for the newly installed plaque at Palace Green Library was donated by Tarmac, which removed it from its quarry on the site of the Battle of Dunbar.

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.”