Durham’s Gala Theatre is to stage a play based on the tragic story of a group of Scottish soldiers who were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral.

The soldiers were captured during the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 before being forcibly marched down to Durham, where they were locked up in the then-disused castle and cathedral.

Little was known about the soldiers until two mass graves were discovered during building work on Palace Green in 2013.

The Gala Theatre play – entitled Woven Bones – will attempt to give the prisoners of war a voice. The play was written by award-winning Scottish playwright and director Laura Lindow.

Woven Bones will be put on at the same time as a new exhibition on Palace Green, which will show how Durham University archaeologists used state-of-the-art technologies to find the skeletons and discover whose remains they were.

Dated: 29/11/2013 Janet Beveridge an Archaeologist from Durham University Archaeological services carrying out an excavation on a human burial site near Durham University’s Palace Green library.
Janet Beveridge, an archaeologist from Durham University, carrying out an excavation on a human burial site near Durham University’s Palace Green Library.

Laura Lindow said, “Everything about this story spoke to me – it spans hundreds of years, thousands of miles, in a true-life mystery solved.”

“The care, passion and expertise of the Durham University team are inspiring and I hope that the audience in Durham will experience (as I have) a more immediate connection, given that the landscape played such a crucial role in what happened.”

“I hope they will feel that they have really heard the voices of these soldiers from all those years ago and that we are honouring their journey.”

After the play, the audience will have the chance to meet some of the team who carried out the excavations and hear first-hand about their discoveries.

Woven Bones – which has been developed by the Cap-a-Pie theatre company in cooperation with Durham University – will be staged at the Gala on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th July. The Palace Green exhibition, which is already open, will be on until Sunday 7th October.

Tickets for Woven Bones are priced at £12.00 and can be purchased by going to www.galadurham.co.uk or telephoning 03000 264 312.

You can read more about the excavations of the skeletons of the Scottish soldiers here as well as what happened to the soldiers who survived their ordeal.

(Featured image courtesy of Charles D.P. Miller from Flickr Creative Commons.)

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