A TEAM of archaeologists have pieced together the stories of Scottish soldiers found in a mass grave for a new exhibition.

Using cutting-edge technology, they have been able to find out about the lives of the men whose skeletons were discovered in Durham, more than 300 years after they died.

The skeletons were found during the construction of a new cafe at Palace Green Library in 2013 and were later confirmed to be the bodies of men who had been captured by Cromwell’s army during the Battle of Dunbar in 1650.

The exhibition at Palace Green Library, which opens today and runs until October, tells the story of between 3,000 and 3,500 soldiers brought to Durham.

Around 1,600 of the men died, were stripped naked and buried in a mass grave in Palace Green, 28 of whom were excavated.

As well as explaining how the skeletons were identified, it tells the stories of the men who survived the experience.

It features a 3D print out of one of the skeletons, which have all been recently reburied in Durham, as well as 3D reconstruction of one of the soldier’s faces

Project research lead Professor Chris Gerrard, from Durham University, said: “We dug up skeletons but we ended up with people. That’s something we couldn’t have done ten years ago.

“It’s a good detective story but it’s unravelled over so many years.”

Prof Charlotte Roberts, a bio-archaeologist at Durham University added: “We excavated 28 skeletons but the amount of information we got was huge.

“Techniques have developed so much over the years that we have been able to tell a story we just would never have known if it was 30 years ago.”

Between 3,000 and 3,500 prisoners arrived in Durham in 1650, of whom around 1,600 died. Around 40 were sent to Shields to work on the salt pans while 150 were put on a boat to America.

Their descendants, now estimated to number between a quarter and half a million, include actor Jon Cryer, who visited Palace Green while filming the American version of TV genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are, and model Kate Upton.

Some of the descendants have been involved in the creation of the exhibition and feature in a film shown as part of it.

Prof Gerrard added: “For me the most interesting part has been discovering the descendant community and finding people living in the US who had family who went through the experience in Durham and ended up working in the colony in New England.

“I’ve given lectures where I had to stop because people were crying. The reason they were overwhelmed was that if their ancestors had been a step to the left or a step to the right, they wouldn’t have survived.

“We don’t often get that direct connection between the present and the past.”

Curator Julie Biddlecombe-Brown said: “I grew up in Durham and this has been a mystery for such a long time. I grew up knowing about the Scottish prisoners but we didn’t know what happened to them.For me, it’s telling a story of people whose story had been lost. They have died in quite horrible circumstances and this feels like an opportunity to give them the dignity and respect they didn’t have.

“It’s an important story for Durham, not a very nice one in Durham’s history, but an important one.”