`

Giving prisoners of war a voice 300 years on at South Shields theatre

Dr Anwen Caffell, of Durham University, with some of the remains discovered in Durham.
Dr Anwen Caffell, of Durham University, with some of the remains discovered in Durham.

An award-winning writer is bringing a stage show inspired by the tragic tale of the long-lost ‘Scottish Soldiers’ to South Tyneside.

Woven Bones aims to bring to life the untold stories of the soldiers as it tours the route they were forced to march from Dunbar to Durham.

The process of the Durham University teams working together to tease out the story of the soldiers has been fascinating

Laura Lindow

It tells the story of how archaeologists, from Durham University, used cutting edge science to give these soldiers, who were prisoners of war from the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, back their voice after their remains were discovered in Durham in 2013.

It has been written by Laura Lindow and developed by Cap-a-Pie Theatre Company in partnership with Durham University.

She said: “This project brings together so many disciplines. 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.”

The soldiers had been marched to Durham and imprisoned in the then-disused Cathedral and Castle. The Battle of Dunbar only lasted one hour, but for the soldiers this brief moment in time changed the course of their whole lives.

Audiences will get the chance to meet some of the team behind the excavation and hear first-hand their unique tale of finding the skeletons and the painstaking work that went into discovering who they really were.

The play complements a new exhibition revealing how Durham University archaeologists pieced together evidence to establish the identity of these 17 the century soldiers, which is now open at Palace Green Library in Durham. Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret runs until October 7.

Professor Chris Gerrard, of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, said “Through this new exhibition we want to give a voice to these young men who lost their lives more than 300 years ago and show how it’s been possible to find out details about their lives using the latest scientific techniques.

“This performance adds a new dimension to the huge amount of research that’s gone into uncovering their story and it really brings home the reality of what the soldiers must have gone through as they marched from Dunbar to Durham.”

The play comes to The Customs House on Tuesday, July 3, at 7.30pm.

For tickets priced from £11. Call the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at www.customshouse.co.uk.