Lost Scottish soliders remembered in new play

Laura Lindow brings to life the untold stories of Scottish prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar in her new play. Woven Bones.
Laura Lindow brings to life the untold stories of Scottish prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar in her new play. Woven Bones.

Laura Lindow brings to life the untold stories of Scottish prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar in her new production, Woven Bones.

It tells the story of how archaeologists at Durham University used cutting-edge science to trace the soldiers’ story.

Laura Lindow brings to life the untold stories of Scottish prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar in her new play. Woven Bones.

Laura Lindow brings to life the untold stories of Scottish prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar in her new play. Woven Bones.

When human remains were found in Durham in 2013, archaeologists discovered that they belonged to the Scottish combatants from the Battle of Dunbar who were marched to Durham and imprisoned in the then-disused cathedral and castle.

The Battle of Dunbar only lasted an hour, but for the soldiers it changed the course of their lives.

Since discovering the remains in 2013, the Scottish Soldiers Archaeology Project Team has found out much more about the people who had died at Durham and about their fellow prisoners who survived. After being taken prisoner, they were forced to march the 111 miles from Dunbar to Durham, and many died when they got there.

Although the road from Dunbar led some to unmarked graves in Durham it led others to lives on the edge of the known world.

Some of those men were sent far from home; 150 Scots went to New England as indentured servants. After seven years of working in the woods and ironworks of Massachusetts and Maine, they were free to make new lives in a new world.

Talks, news reports and interviews undertaken by the Durham University research team have drawn strong reactions to this extraordinary story.

The chance to tell it in a different way, to put a very direct and very human interpretation on the research results, is why the team were keen to work with Cap-a-Pie. What emerges is a story of suffering and hope that will make you think about where you live in a completely different way.

Enjoy a unique opportunity to walk in the shoes of these soldiers and find out more about local history as this brand new production tours the route marched by the soldiers from Dunbar to Durham.

Laura Lindow is an award winning Scottish writer/director based in the north east. During 20 years of making theatre in the region she has established a reputation for creating work that is lyrical yet punchy with a serious sense of play.

She said: “The process of the Durham University teams working together to tease out the story of the soldiers has been fascinating, so it’s really exciting to collaborate with them. “I did some work with the forensic department at Teesside University years ago, and I was struck by the subject of forensic archaeology and the idea driving it, of returning names of missing people to their families.

“Reading the responses of the Scottish soldiers’ descendants to the discovery of the remains, I can understand now how true this is - people have a real need to settle on what actually happened.”

A new exhibition revealing how Durham University archaeologists pieced together evidence to establish the identity of these 17th century soldiers in on show at Durham University and runs until October 7.

Woven Bones, produced by Cap-a-Pie in partnership with Durham University, can be seen at The Maltings, Berwick on Friday, June 29 at 7pm. Tickets £13.50 are available at www.maltingsberwick.co.uk.