Joined: 21 Sep 2007
|Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:43 am Post subject: 30YW Scots troops' mass grave under German car park.
|From The Scotsman of Oct 16, 2009: p.3.
Full Text :COPYRIGHT 2009 Johnston Publishing Ltd.
Byline: FRANK URQUHART
Scots troops' mass grave under German car park.
THERE are no memorials to mark the corner of a foreign field where hundreds of Scots lost their lives nearly 400 years ago.
But now archaeologists believe they have unearthed a mass grave where the remains of Scottish soldiers were buried after one of the most decisive battles ever fought on European soil.
Mercenaries from Scotland died in their hundreds in the Battle of Lutzen in 1632. The conflict, a pivotal point in the Thirty Years War, saw the forces of the Holy Roman Empire clash with a Protestant army led by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden.
The battle was fought in dense fog. The Protestants emerged victorious but only after the Swedish monarch died charging at the head of his cavalry.
Scottish battlefield expert Dr Tony Pollard believes the majority of the Scots who died lie buried at the site where a supermarket car park now stands near Leipzig, Germany.
And the team revealed yesterday that they have also uncovered a tantalising clue to the spot where the Swedish king may have been killed in battle.
Dr Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University, said the site was discovered via historical rather than archaeological research by members of the British, German and Swedish team at the former battlefield.
The battle was fought over almost two square miles but the majority of the Protestant Scots who fought - both Highlanders and Lowlanders - are believed to have been in action close to an area where an enemy cannon battery was located.
He said: "A historian with the team discovered a newspaper article from 1901 which described a house being built on a site where they had just demolished windmills. And we know from maps of the battle at the time that these windmills marked the site of a big imperial gun battery.
"Facing the heavy cannon was the left wing of the Protestant army where most of the Scots would have been deployed.
"The newspaper report records that, when the house was being built, they came across a mass grave with skeletons in it about a metre and a half down. Then in the early 1990s they built a supermarket at the site and we reckon this grave pit is probably underneath the car park."
Historians say up to 50,000 Scots took part in the Thirty Years War. At least 6,000 men are said to have died at Lutzen.
The team plans to carry out geophysics tests and radar surveys to pinpoint the mass grave's exact location at the car park.
The archaeologists have also found hundreds of musket balls, cannon shot and other artefacts of war.
And Dr Pollard revealed: "We made a very exciting discovery last week which might help us to pin down where Gustavus Adolphus was killed in the battle. While we were there, my Swedish colleague found an artefact, bearing a Royal crest, which we think is related to the Swedish royal household."
THE Thirty Years War was one of the bloodiest conflicts Europe has ever experienced, with millions of people killed in the name of religion. Fought between the Catholic forces of the Holy Roman Empire and Protestant armies, it famously started in 1618 with the "Defenestration of Prague", when the Holy Roman Emperor's envoy was thrown from a window in Prague Castle by Protestant Bohemians.
The Bohemians were crushed at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, but Sweden entered the war and tipped the balance in the Protestant favour. When King Gustavas Adolphus, hailed as the "Lion of the North", was killed at Lutzen, the Protestant cause lost momentum, even though the battle was won. Early in the 1640s, France entered the war to halt the ambitions of the Holy Roman Empire, and it ended with French and Protestant victory in 1648.
Among the Scots at Lutzen with the Swedes was Lieutenant-General Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven.