Blog reveals details of soldiers killed in 1650

Dr Anwen Caffell of Durham University with some of the remains.
Dr Anwen Caffell of Durham University with some of the remains.

Regular updates on research being carried out on 17th century soldiers killed at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 are now available online.

Since discovering the bodies of Scottish soldiers buried in two pits at Durham University’s Palace Green in 2013, archaeologists have been analysing the remains.

Professor Chris Gerrard, head of archaeology at the North East university, said: “Our Scottish soldiers archaeology project has had a huge level of public interest from around the world, and many people have contacted us wanting to know and understand more about the individuals found in Durham.

“Readers of this new blog will gain a fascinating insight into what happens in the laboratory, where leading archaeologists will be carrying out cutting-edge scientific investigations with the bones and teeth of these individuals.”

Over the next few weeks, the blog will share the archaeologists’ progress as they record the bones digitally using 3D modelling techniques.

What they have found out so far is that a couple of them smoked clay pipes, a habit only common in England and Scotland from around 1630, and many were young, being aged between 13 and 25.

Isotopic analysis of 13 bodies with teeth indicates that six of them were almost certainly from Scotland, four were from either Scotland or northern England and another three were likely to have been immigrants from Europe.

Large numbers of dental defects suggesting that many of them came from impoverished backgrounds and suffered from malnutrition and illnesses in childhood.

The university blog can be found at

At the 1650 battle, English Parliamentarian forces led by Oliver Cromwell defeated a Scottish, French and Albanian army headed by David Leslie and loyal to King Charles II.