In Scotland the National Covenant, a pledge to uphold Scottish Presbyterianism while maintaining allegiance to the King, is signed. This comes as the King, Charles I, attempts to impose new forms of religious practice on the Scottish Kirk.
The 'Bishop's Wars'. Charles I attempts to impose his religious reforms in Scotland by force but is unsuccessful. He eventually loses control of Northumberland and County Durham to the Scots and is forced to concede to Scottish demands.
Outbreak of the English Civil War. Protracted disagreements between the King and the English Parliament over the rights of the king and religious freedom escalate to an armed conflict which engulfs the British Isles. In Scotland, irreconcilable differences between the King's religious stance and that of the Scottish Kirk mean that many support the English Parliament against the monarch.
Surrender of Charles I to Scottish forces at Newark. After long negotiations, Charles is handed over to the English Parliamentarians as a prisoner.
Internal disagreements in Scotland combined with dissatisfaction with the political and religious stance of the English Parliament lead to an unsuccessful Scottish attempt to reinstate Charles I.
“How I came here, I know not – there’s no law for it, to make your King your prisoner.” Charles I, the week before his execution.
Following his attempts to stir up renewed conflict from captivity, Charles I is put on trial for treason against his people by the English Parliament on 20th January 1649. Upon being found guilty he is beheaded 10 days later.
Charles Stuart, son of Charles I, vows to uphold Scots Presbyterianism and the Solemn League and Covenant. He gains the support of the Scottish Kirk, Parliament and Army.
Oliver Cromwell enters Scotland with his army in a pre-emptive move to neutralise the threat posed by Charles Stuart's new allegiance with the Scottish Covenanters.
The Battle of Dunbar. After a game of cat and mouse between General David Leslie's larger Scottish Army and Cromwell's less numerous but more experienced troops,
the two sides clash to the south of Dunbar. Cromwell's tactics secure victory for the English side. Heavy casualties are inflicted on the Scottish Army and over 4,000 are taken prisoner to prevent
them serving against the English Parliament in the future.
The Scottish prisoners from the Battle of Dunbar are marched south through the Scottish Borders, Northumberland and County Durham. Around 3,000 reach Durham, starving and exhausted, where they are imprisoned in the Cathedral.
Confined in Durham Cathedral, cramped, cold and ill-fed, disease spreads rapidly amongst the Scottish prisoners. By the end of October only 1,400 remain alive. The sick are nursed in the Castle and those who die are buried in mass graves in the Castle grounds on the west side of Palace Green.
Most of the surviving prisoners are sent away from Durham either to work as servants or to fight for the English Parliament. Some are released to work locally in the north east of England, others are shipped to King's Lynn to work on the draining of the Fens, while others are sent to fight in France.
150 of the Scottish prisoners set sail aboard the Unity for the New World to work as indentured servants in various industries in the English colonies in New England.
The Unity reaches Charlestown, Boston, Massachusetts. The Scottish prisoners are sold as indentured servants, forced to work for a period of seven years. They mainly work in ironworks and sawmills throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
Those of the surviving Scottish Soldiers still held prisoner in Durham are issued with passes to return home to Scotland.
The seven year indentures of the Scots in New England come to an end. They make new lives in New England, acquire land and start families. Their descendants live there to this day.
Construction starts on a new café at Palace Green Library in Durham. Human remains are discovered and an archaeological excavation takes place. The remains are identified as Scottish Soldiers who died during their captivity in the Cathedral and Castle, who were buried in mass graves in the autumn of 1650.
Following scientific analysis and historical research the remains of the Scottish Soldiers are respectfully re-interred at Elvet Hill Road Cemetery, Durham, the closest active burial ground to the site of discovery.