Monday, 29 May 2017

On 12th May, Annette and I travelled to Durham to an event to commemorate the Scottish soldiers buried there from the Battle of Dunbar. Skeletons found near the Cathedral had been identified as those boys and young men taken prisoner after the battle. The university gave us a tour of the laboratories showing us how they came to these findings. The aim of the day was also to respectfully commemorate all the lives of those imprisoned in the Cathedral in 1650. The plaque, shown on the left, is mounted on stone from the battle site in Dunbar and is situated in the library café above where the remains were found.

The day was far above our expectations and we felt honoured to be there. The respect and dignity that the university have given these men blew us away. They have gone to great lengths not to exploit the situation by carefully selecting interested parties. We were told that this was the biggest ever archaeological investigation of its kind. They have traced the lives of the men who survived and were shipped off to America. They visited their descendants, one of whom was present that day.

I wish I could put it into words what this meant to us. Tears came to our eyes several times as we listened to the speeches. The Vice Chancellor spoke of the men with such feeling, as though they were his brothers. Evensong in the Cathedral was also very moving as the prayers spoke of the men’s ordeal. We then gathered to rededicate the existing plaque in the Cathedral. The men will be reburied later in the year.

Listen to the speeches here ..........

Two days later I was speaking at a Churches Together event at Ely Cathedral. This was so appropriate as not only did Cromwell live here for a time, but some the Scottish soldiers who survived Durham were sent to dig the drains in the Fenlands surrounding the Cathedral. We hadn’t planned it this way but God had! The evening began in the Chancel where I spoke, and then we processed to the Lady Chapel where I presented the letter of apology that we took round Ireland in 2002 to an Irish Catholic Priest.

The feedback from this evening has been very encouraging. One gentleman emailed saying “I am usually very conscious of time, but on Sunday I wasn't even tempted to look at my watch”.
God is good!

In the days before Ely, the team along with one of our Advisers, Rev Sheila Anthony gathered to pray on Earith river bank.  Earith (one of Sheila's parishes) was one of the places that the Scottish prisoners were brought to and where they began their hard task of digging the fens.

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