Remembrance and Celebration: Dunbar 1650 retold in 2019
Dunbar 1650 Retold and Surviving Descendants from America return as stars of the occasion
35 descendants of the American survivors of the battle first met together on Friday evening at the Town House, where the Museum is telling both the survivors' and casualties' stories with the support of Durham University's researchers, the Scottish Battlefields Trust and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry!
After a Welcome and Reception on Her Majesty's Behalf from Deputy Lord Lieutenant Pauline Jaffrey in the Council Chamber, Dr Arran Johnston commenced his key weekend-long role as Narrator, Author and as General Leslie, Scottish Leader, at the Encampment and Re-enactments.
The Descendants' and their families were piped their way to the Harbour Battery, originally erected to deter US Corsair Paul Jones, and stepping across the 'Warning To Americans' carved on stone. There they Remembered not only their own ancestors who did not die either on the march to Durham or in captivity there but those who did.
A moment of silence was taken followed by a musket volley and a Lament.
Town Parade from Lauderdale House to The Battlefield
Haddington Pipe Band led the Parade at 10 am along the town centre to the site for the 2019 re-enactments. It was firmly set in Dunbar 1650's National Battlefield Designated Area - with unmissable Doon Hill as its backdrop to the south - enabling the story to be told with great clarity with a contemporary wall map as visual aid! Over the weekend approaching 1000 visitors, friends, children and re-enactors attended in what was decidedly cold and windy weather; but 'twas as nothing compared to the persistent rainfall encountered in 1650.
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Decisive role of the cavalry throughout the engagements
It was Cromwell's cavalry which made the vital breakout, repeatedly fording the burn at dawn before the Scots' vastly superior force was barely awake. But the Scottish cavalry did indeed have a moment of satisfaction the previous evening when they captured a Cromwellian position in a Shepherd's Hut successfully capturing Cromwellian officers and setting the hut ablaze.
Pikes were clearly a significant weapon at the battle but were scarcely deployed in the surprise cavalry attacks. After valiant skirmishes the Scots were outwitted in the confines of the ravine and roundly defeated. Whilst the wounded were indeed released by Cromwell thousands of prisoners were marched to Durham, many starving en route or in captivity there in the cathedral.
Cromwell was content in victory!
After his Briefing for Visitors at his Council of War, Cromwell's army went into victorious action … taking all too many prisoners ...
Big turnout from children meant the history of Dunbar is being kept alive ….
… there was as to be expected keen interest in the cavalry's horses but there was the chance to fight the battle on their own account too ….
Ed: Dunbar 1650 is one of the trilogy of East Lothian Battles being commemorated by the Scottish Battlefields Trust in sequence - last year Prestonpans 1745, next year Pinkie Cleugh 1547. There has over the years been support from ELC, EventScotland and Historic Environment Scotland for these events designed to retell the history of these battles to today's generations and to ensure memorials and interpretation are firmly and sustainably established for the future.
Published Date: September 16th 2019