Sunday, 16 September 2018

Reburial of Scottish Soldiers in Durham, May 2018

On 18th May, Annette, Katie, Vanessa and I were privileged to attend the reburial of the Scottish Prisoners who died in Durham in 1650-52. The attendees were all linked to the men or the project in some way, including many civic dignitaries representing the areas where the men hailed from, as well as a representative from their Regiment who gave them a very moving salute. 

 It was a simple graveside ceremony, held at a cemetery less than a mile from where they were found. The setting was beautiful, just like a meadow, and a fitting place for these young men to be laid to rest. The service and casket both reflected the traditions of the 17th Century and attendees were given the opportunity to scatter a handful of soil from Dunbar into the grave. It was a moving and dignified service, which they had been denied centuries ago. 

 As I stood by the graveside afterwards, I felt overcome with remorse and sadness and tears came from deep within. The Scotsman standing beside me, said, It’s not your fault you know!” 

 We, like many others, felt as if we were at the funeral of a close relative who had died only recently. The team that have worked on this project could not have done more. 

Praying in the Fens August 2017

We had discovered that many of the Scottish soldiers who had survived their imprisonment at Durham Cathedral were taken to East Anglia and used as forced labour, digging ditches. Mid-summer we decided to go and pray at significant places. Also I had the idea that we could throw sunflower seeds into the water as we spoke Gods promise of healing over the area. I had no idea why sunflowers, except they bring a smile to everyone and carry many seeds 

As we read the powerful words in Isaiah 61, a very strong wind came and stirred the water, blowing straight into our faces. It was the wind of the spirit, of that we are sure. Then the seeds were thrown into the water.  As I did this I declared words from Isaiah 61 “freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”. I can't tell you how I felt at that moment. It was as if God touched my heart with His pain and I broke in tears. It was an awesome moment.

Back in April we shared communion with Rev Sheila Anthony on the bank of the river at Earith.
So, it was fitting that our day finished here as this was one of the main places Scottish Prisoners were billeted in the 17th century. The river is tidal and therefore flows through many of the places the prisoners were forced to work and the seeds would reach places we never could.  

God had two surprises for us when we returned to Earith. A large notice board had been erected since our last visit titled "The hidden story of the fens" ..... This story included Cromwell and the Scottish prisoners. We felt God was showing us that the truth was being exposed, acknowledged and healed. 

Then as we turned Sheila said look over there. We couldn’t believe our eyes one single sunflower. We felt God was confirming that this was His day and we were on track. To God be the glory.