Re­mains of 17th-cen­tury Scots sol­diers to be re­buried

The Herald - - NEWS - JODY HAR­RI­SON

THE RE­MAINS of 17th cen­tury Scottish pris­on­ers of war will be re­buried af­ter skele­tons were dis­cov­ered dur­ing build­ing work at Durham Univer­sity.

Ex­ten­sive tests were car­ried out af­ter they were found five years ago and stud­ies showed they had been held cap­tive in the then empty Durham Cathe­dral fol­low­ing the 1650 Bat­tle of Dun­bar.

A sim­ple grave­side cer­e­mony re­flec­tive of the 17th cen­tury will be held to­day at El­vet Hill Road Ceme­tery, a mile from where they were found.

Dur­ing the re­burial ser­vice, peo­ple will have the op­por­tu­nity to scat­ter a hand­ful of Scottish soil into the grave, in ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ori­gins of many of the sol­diers.

Pro­fes­sor Chris Ger­rard, of Durham Univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Ar­chae­ol­ogy, said: “It has been a priv­i­lege to re­search these sol­diers and, hav­ing learnt so much from their re­mains, it was im­por­tant to us to lay them to rest with re­spect and dig­nity.

“To­day we are able to give these men the burial they were de­nied when they died al­most 400 years ago.”

The re­burial ser­vice has been de­signed by Durham Cathe­dral, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Church of Scot­land and the Scottish Epis­co­pal Church were in­vited to com­ment, to en­sure a re­spect­ful and dig­ni­fied fi­nal com­mit­tal.

Met­ri­cal Psalms from the 1650 Scottish Psalter and a Bi­ble read­ing from the 1611 King James Ver­sion have been in­cluded in the ser­vice, in keep­ing with the tra­di­tions of those who died.

Canon Rosalind Brown, of Durham Cathe­dral, said: “The sim­ple grave­side cer­e­mony not only re­flects the tra­di­tions of the 17th cen­tury but is also re­spect­ful of the cir­cum­stances that led to these men dy­ing in Durham.”

A full ser­vice in Durham Cathe­dral was not thought to be ap­pro­pri­ate as, although it was not be­ing used as a place of worship, it would have rep­re­sented a prison to the sol­diers at the time.

The Bat­tle of Dun­bar was one of the short­est and most bru­tal bat­tles of the 17th cen­tury civil wars.

In less than an hour the English Par­lia­men­tar­ian army, un­der the com­mand of Oliver Cromwell, de­feated the Scottish Covenant­ing army who sup­ported the claims of Charles II to the Scottish throne.

Af­ter the bat­tle thou­sands of sol­diers were marched more than 100 miles to Durham.

About 3,000 sol­diers were im­pris­oned in Durham Cathe­dral and Cas­tle.

„ Dr An­wen Caf­fell of Durham Univer­sity with some of the bones.

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