Lost Lives, New Voices: Unlocking the Stories of the Scottish Soldiers at the Battle of Dunbar 1650 [Paperback]

Chris Gerrard(Author); Pam Graves(Author); Andrew Millard(Author); Richard Annis(Author); Anwen Caffell(Author)

ISBN: 9781785708473 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2018 | 1st | Language: English 384p, H9.4 x W6.7, b/w and color illustrations
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Lost Lives, New Voices


In November 2013 two mass burials were discovered unexpectedly on a construction site in the city of Durham in north-east England. Over the next 2 years, a complex jigsaw of evidence was pieced together by a team of archaeologists to establish the identity of the human remains. Today we know them to be some of the Scottish prisoners who died in the autumn of 1650 in Durham cathedral and castle following the battle of Dunbar on the south-east coast of Scotland. Fought between the English and the Scots, this was one of the key engagements of the War of the Three Kingdoms.

Using the latest techniques of skeleton science, this book gives back to the men a voice through an understanding of their childhood and later lives, tracing the story not only of the men who died through the course of research but also of those who survived. Archaeological and historical evidence allows us to reconstruct with vivid accuracy how and why these men vanished off the historical radar.

Of the prisoners who survived, about 150 were transported to the colonies. Following the trail of their biographies takes us across the Atlantic to the frontiers of New England. An extensive genealogical appendix traces what is known of the later lives of the Dunbar men, through extensive 17th century records including wills, inventories and employment records, examined by their modern-day descendants in collaboration with project historians. The names of just about all the transported men have been established with varying degrees of accuracy and for each there is an entry composed of surname and forenames, residences listed by state, date of first known appearance in New England records, years of birth and death, based on evidence contemporary with the man, together with notes on his later life, employment, family history and decadency, sometimes down to the present day.

Iron- and sawmill workers, farmers and fishermen adapted to a new life in the vast forested landscapes. Some flourished, others did not but none returned to the country of their birth. Lost Lives, New Voices continues a forgotten narrative, interrupted for over 350 years, from a distant Scottish battlefield to the New England of modern America.

Table of Contents

1. Discovery and themes
2. The archaeology
3. The Human Bone Analysis
4. Skeleton Science
5. Historical Context
6. The Survivors' Tales
7. Themes and Descendants

Reviews & Quotes

""Anyone who has connections with these Dunbar prisoners, as well as the prisoners transported on the John and Sara after the 1651 Battle of Worcester, or indeed, to any early Scots in New England will find this book a rich source.""
Helen Schatvet Ullmann

"Certainly, for anyone with known or possible Scots ancestry in New England this book is a must read, but it is also of value to others wanting to understand life in New England. This book combines archaeology, modern DNA studies, and documentary research, illustrating life during the English Civil War, in the context of European and North Atlantic trade."
Paul Milner
Milner Genealogy ()

"“Truly impressive in scope, organization and presentation… an extraordinary and nicely illustrated study of seminal scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of forty-eight pages of Notes, a twenty-six page Bibliography, and a ten page Index.”"

Midwest Book Review ()

"“This fascinating reconstruction of lost lives does indeed five new voice to the potential of the human spirit to transcend hardship, war, and banishment overseas.” "

Hexham Historical Society Newsletter ()

"“Overall it is a model of how to shape a report with impeccable academic credentials, which at the same time is accessible and attractive, integrating analysis with an always relevant contextual narrative. Rich with first-hand accounts of extraordinary events and individuals this is a real rarity among archaeological reports: a page-turner.”"

British Archaeology ()

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