THE lives and deaths of 17th-century soldiers who spent their final days in an English prison will be commemorated with a series of events today.

As many as 6000 Scottish fighters were taken prisoner after their defeat to Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army in the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.

The weakest were released, 1000 died on the march south, others were sent to fight in Ireland and France and still more were sold into indentured service in the US.

Meanwhile, as many as 1700 died in cathedral city Durham, where “jumbled bones” were discovered in a mass grave four years ago, finally ending uncertainty about their burial place. The remains were discovered during work on a new cafe at the city’s university and experts there have confirmed some of the Scots force, which supported the claim of Charles II to the Scottish throne, were just 13-years-old.

Today the university will hold a minute’s silence to the soldiers, described as “young poor lads taken from the fields”, as a new plaque installed at the site of the mass grave is dedicated.

A second dedication will be held for an updated plaque replacing one that was already in place at Durham Cathedral, with special prayers and a blessing to take place during the Evensong service. A public lecture about the Scottish soldiers and the research into the remains will also be held.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, vice-chancellor and warden of Durham University, said: “Since the discovery of the remains in 2013, experts from the university’s Department of Archaeology have undertaken a significant programme of research to learn more about the lives of the soldiers, including what became of those who survived.

“It is our intention through this project to give these individuals a voice in our history.”

Mounted on stone cut from the quarry now located on the site where the Battle of Dunbar took place, the plaque’s inscription and imagery was drawn up in consultation with direct descendants of soldiers who survived the battle and subsequent imprisonment in the then-abandoned cathedral.

Research is ongoing and the remains will be reburied in a cemetery close to the find site once work concludes.

There had been calls to bury them in Scotland, but the university says the decision was taken after consultation on “ethical, moral and legal” grounds.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to stage an exhibition next year on the findings. Lost Lives, Hidden Voices will “unlock the story” of the Scottish troops.

Professor David Cowling said: “Through the discovery of these remains, and the ongoing research on them, we have been granted a privileged insight into the lives of the soldiers.

“Our hope is that this exhibition will give people the opportunity to learn more about the lives of these soldiers, and the fascinating archaeological research which has helped us to get to know them better.”