A new exhibition which enables visitors to come face to face with a 400-year-old soldier opened in Durham.

‘Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret’, shows how the latest scientific techniques were used to solve a mystery over three centuries old.

It all started in November 2013, after construction workers were digging the foundations for a new cafe at Palace Green, when they stumbled upon 28 bodies buried in the grounds.

The individual bodies were buried in two mass graves.

Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret
Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret

Professor Chris Gerrard, from Durham University's department of archaeology, said:

"The person who studied the bones said to me that there was something strange about it - they're all men and they're all in a specific age range, 13-25 - I'm just wondering whether they've got something to do with the battle."

Following the discovery, there were two years of intensive analysis which started to unravel clues that suggested the men were not from around the area.

Through modern technology, they were able to put together the pieces of the men's lives.

Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret
Replica displaying how the bones were found

Professor Charlotte Roberts, Bioarchaeologist from Durham University said they were able to find out where the men were from.  

"We can tell that by looking at chemical signatures in the teeth where a person was born."

They were also able to tell what they ate, which further gave them clues of where they were from.

The analysis revealed that the bodies were remains of Scottish soldiers, captured by Cromwell's army after the battle of Dunbar, they were then marched south and imprisoned in Durham Cathedral.

Bodies of Evidence: How Science Unearthed Durham’s Dark Secret

Through the use of technology, experts were able to construct a 3D head - which allows visitors to come face to face with a 400-year-old soldier.

Mr Gerrard added: "When I first came to Durham 20 years ago, people told me the story of the Scottish soldiers - that many people had died here and that nobody knew where they were buried.

"There's always been this urban myth but a lot of holes have been dug in this area and nothing has ever been found." 

The exhibition will be on show at Durham University's Palace Green Library until October 7th.

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