THE untold story of thousands of soldiers involved in a battle more than 350 years ago takes to the stage in Dunbar this summer.

The Battle of Dunbar was one of the most brutal and short battles of the 17th-century civil wars, after which thousands of soldiers were marched south of the Border from the county town to Durham in north-east England.

About 3,000 soldiers were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle at a time when the cathedral was empty and abandoned.

Five years ago, between 17 and 28 skeletons were found in a mass grave close to the historic building.

Experts at the city’s university carried out extensive research on the remains to identify who they were, with a permanent memorial to the soldiers who were imprisoned and died in Durham following the battle unveiled last year.

Now, theatre company Cap-a-Pie has produced a unique show which offers the chance to walk in the shoes of the Scottish soldiers.

Woven Bones tells the story of how archaeologists at Durham University used cutting-edge science to give these soldiers back their voice.

The Battle of Dunbar only lasted one hour but for the soldiers this brief moment in time changed the course of their whole lives.

After each performance, audiences will get the chance to meet some of the Durham University 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.

Laura Lindlow, an award-winning Scottish writer/director who is based in the north-east of England, has written the new play, which takes to the stage at Dunbar’s Bleachingfield Centre in June.

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.”

Among those taking to the stage is Gemma Stroyan, who has recently moved to North Berwick, having gone to school in the county.

The 29-year-old actress, who attended Loretto School in Musselburgh, said: “It is shining a new light on the area.

“Rather ashamedly, I didn’t know too much about the Battle of Dunbar.

“It has been fantastic to find out a lot more about it and delve into the stories of these boys and men.”

Woven Bones takes to the stage at the Bleachingfield Centre on June 25 before making its way south, mirroring the path of the soldiers, reaching Durham on July 6.

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