Fighting talk in Hawick

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The archaeologist who led a dig last year to excavate the field where the Battle of Philiphaugh was fought near Selkirk will reveal her team’s findings at a Hawick Archaeological Society Lecture on Tuesday, January 8.

The battle on September 13, 1645 saw an army of 6,000 Covenanters, led by General Leslie, defeat 1,000 Royalist soldiers commanded by the Marquis of Montrose.

The defeat ended King Charles I’s cause in Scotland, and tilted the English Civil War in favour of the Parliamentarians led by Oliver Cromwell.

The events of that morning may have been a turning point in the nation’s history, but little is known about how or where the battle was fought.

So, in the summer of 2011, a team of archaeologists led by Dr Natasha Ferguson of the Centre of Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow excavated a part of the field to reconstruct a picture of the battle.

The week-long dig concentrated on a trench between the football pitch and a turnip field, where it is believed 700 Royalist musketeers made their last stand against General Leslie’s charging cavalry.

During an earlier metal detecting survey, Dr Ferguson’s team found musket and pistol balls, and their distribution can help historians picture the ebb and flow of the battle.

“Things like musket and pistol balls tell a story,” she told TheSouthern at the dig: “They’re quite mundane items – just simple spheres of lead – but when you think about them, ultimately they kill people; they’re signatures of death. And when you find dense concentrations you realise you’re standing in a place where there was a lot of fighting. Something as plain as a musket ball can pinpoint a brutal history.”

Her talk at 7.30pm in Hawick Town Hall is titled ‘They a’ came frae the trench and cried’, and there is a voluntary collection.