Anthropological Analysis

The Dunbar battle was among the shortest, bloody and brutal battles in the civil wars of the 17th century. In just less than one hour and under the command of Oliver Cromwell, the English Parliamentarians army defeated the Scottish army. The correct figures are unknown but it is estimated that 1700 Scottish soldiers died of disease, malnutrition and cold after being marched for over 100 miles from Scotland to Durham where they were imprisoned (Durham University, 2015). The prisoners who survived were transported to different parts of the world including USA, New England and Virginia to work as servants. They were allowed to regain their freedom redeeming their sale price or by working the full term of the indenture. A number of these soldiers became successful farmers in Maine.

For almost 400 years, what happened to the bodies of those who died on the battle has been a mystery. Researchers in Durham University believe they have begun solving the puzzle. In November 2013, Durham University archeologists discovered human remains in the world Heritage Site. The messy skeletons of about seventeen to twenty-eight people were excavated from two pits.

Initially, most of the evidence was consistent with the Scottish soldiers but radiocarbon analysis indicated an earlier date of death. However, after further analysis, it was concluded that the deaths occurred between 1625 and 1660. Again, combining these dates with the nature of the graves, the fact that the skeletons were identified as male and aged between thirteen and twenty-five years showed the skeletons were likely of Scottish. Richard Annis, a senior archaeologist in the Durham University, said that this is an important finding since it sheds light on a 365-years old mystery (Durham University, 2015).
This article applies to Archaeology Anthropology because it studies ancient remains to try to determine ancient human past. Archeology is the study of the recent and ancient human past through studying material remains. A complete study of the skeletons determines that the skeletons were male and aged between thirteen to twenty-five years.

Dr Andrew Millard, a lecturer with Durham University, says that proving a hypothesis in archaeology involves assembling diverse evidence types and piecing the evidence together so that an informed assessment can be made (Durham University, 2015). Combining the biological evidence and historical evidence can lead is the key to unraveling archeological myth. The experts must have the historical evidence that the soldiers were buried in that area then combine that evidence with the scientific analysis and make a conclusion. Historical evidence suggests that the 1700 soldiers who died in the battle were buried in Durham. The burial was a military operation, and the bodies were buried in two pits over a period of days. The pits are believed to have been at the far end of what would have been the Durham palace grounds.

This article is very consistent with archaeology anthropology. It tries to determine the behaviors, age, gender and other features of the skeletons to identify their most likely identity. The identification that the skeletons were of the male gender, aged between thirteen and twenty-five years and were excavated in Durham is very consistent with the Dunbar battle. Archaeologists in Durham University are studying present skeletons and combining it with historical evidence to determine their past, which is what archaeology, is all about.


Durham University. (2015, September 2). Skeletons found in mass graves are those of 17th century Scottish soldiers. Retrieved September 22, 2015, from

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