Firth, C. H. 1900 'The Battle of Dunbar', Trans Roy Hist Soc 14, 19-52.
Reid, S. & Turner, C. 2004 Dunbar 1650, Cromwell's Most Famous Victory. Osprey Publishing, Oxford.
Information on Sources & Publication
Dunbar is well documented in a series of written sources, including eyewitness accounts, though all the detailed accounts are from an English perspective. There is also a contemporary prospect or battle 'plan', one of only a handful in the period in Britain, showing the general deployments and distribution of the action in relation to the terrain. However, with such perspective representations, which represent the superimposition of a standard battle plan onto a separately produced depiction of the landscape, there can be problems in the relationship between deployments and terrain elements. There are also significant questions, particularly regarding the number of divisions of cavalry depicted on the Scottish left wing of horse and the English forces attacking them. Fisher, or his artist, clearly visited the battlefield and compiled the prospect from several different viewpoints, compiling it into a single perspective drawing as if viewed from high above the sea just off the coast at Broxmouth. The battle plan, including several phases of action compiled into one, was then superimposed upon this prospect following a method previously applied in the 1647 prospect of Naseby battlefield (Foard 1995). Firth suggests the engraving is likely to be a close representation of the events because it was part of Fisher's planned account of the conquest of Scotland, for which, although never completed, preparatory work was carried out on the basis of information from the commanders involved. Apart from Fisher's engraving there also is a list of the colours taken at Dunbar (Mackinnon 1833).
The first substantial secondary account is the assessment by Carlyle, but on the battle itself he is fairly brief. Gardiner provides the next major discussion and the first significant attempt at a battle plan. However, Firth argues that these writers give an incorrect impression as to exactly where and how the battle was fought. His study is by far the most detailed analysis of the battle, saw the first publication of the newly discovered contemporary battle plan, and has not been advanced upon by more recent work. It is fully referenced, with extensive quotes from the primary sources, discussion of the composition of the armies and an assessment of the reliability of the primary sources. However, he does not hazard a plan of the battle even though he does provide detailed discussion of possible locations for specific elements of the action (Firth 1900).
The battle is dealt with in most of the national battlefield books and various Civil War studies, but no later work approaches the level of detail achieved by Firth, nor could a major new study be justified unless important new primary information was forthcoming. There are, however, a number of useful modern overviews, such as that by Grainger, which also places the battle in a wider context of the campaigns of 1650-1651. The first book devoted solely to the battle is by Reid, another useful popular study. These modern works broadly follow Gardiner in their deployment of the armies not the re-interpretation by Firth.
Cromwell's letters: (Abbott, 1939) 313-5 & 321, 322, 323-5
Cromwell's letter of 3rd September: pamphlet version, with list of Scottish prisoners attached is reprinted in Scot, 1806, 280.
Cadwell's report (messenger bringing news to Council of State) reprinted in Carte, Original Letters, I, 380-4.
A Brief Relation, British Library TT 53, E612, 10, based on Cadwell's report.
A True Relation of the Routing of the Scottish Army, British Library E612, 10: letters from the headquarters of the army, Sept 4th. Reprinted Scot 1806, 273
Rushworth's letter and his report to the House, reprinted in Old Parliamentary History, xix, 341-2
Major White, report to Parliament is summarised in a few lines in Commons Journals, vi, 464
Fenwick's letter, in the Carte Mss, reprinted in Firth 1900.
Hodgson's account is reprinted in Scot 1806
Mercurius Politicus, Sept 12-19 , 226-230 ' British Library E613
Letter from R O (probably Col Robert Overton), Mercurius Politicus, 266.
Cromwell's dispatch summarised in Mercurius Politicus
Abridgement of Cadwell's report, in Mercurius Politicus, 217
There is no official Scottish account and the existing reports are brief and vague.
Laing, D. 1842 Baillie Letters, iii, 111
Balfour, Annals, iv, 97-8
Burnet, History of my own time, I, 95
Life of Robert Blair, 237-8
Nicoll, J, 1836, A Diary of Public Transactions, 27-8
Leslie's letter reprinted in Laing, D., Ancram & Lothian Correspondence,1875, vol ii, 27-8
Walker, Edward, Historical Discourses, 1705, 180-1
Memorie of the Summervilles, ii, 421
'Collections by a Private Hand at Edinburgh' reprinted in Maidment, J., Historical Fragments, 1836, 28
Barclay J. 1836 The Diary of Alexander Jaffray, 57.
Cartographic & Illustrative Sources
Print giving prospect view of the battle. Drawn by Fitz-Payne Fisher. Copy in Sutherland 'Clarendon' in Bodleian Library , Oxford. Copy reproduced in Ashley, 1972; over-cropped copy in Grainger1997; discussed in detail in Firth, 1900.
Ordnance Survey 1st Ed 6' mapping, 1854.
General Roy, 1747-55, British Library.
East Barns: plans of the settlement and of a small area of land re division of runrig, 1764/65, NAS RHP1025/1-3
East Barns, 1804, farmsteads, fields and quarry, NAS RHP3710.
Broxmouth: gardens, park and enclosures of Broxmouth, including Brans Mill and Slowbiggin, 1734, copy is NAS RHP140976
Wester Broomhouse, Easter Broomhouse, Broomhouse Mill and The Standards, 1777, copy is NAS RHP14276.
Acredales and Dunbar common prior to enclosure, 1735-6, NAS RHP32544
Maps of Dunbar outer common are a detached area well to the south of the battlefield: 1832, NAS RHP32546 & 7; 201/1-3.
Estate of Lochend and Hallhill, 1832, NAS RHP85493 & RHP81989
Excambion between Lochend and Dunbar Common, 1825, NAS RHP32545
Newtonlees, Lochend Estate, 1855, NAS RHP85484
Little Spott etc, 1799, copy in NAS.
Spott Mill Farm, 1782, NAS RHP5531
Plan of estate of Broxmouth, surveyed by Stobie, NRAS 1100/p/13
Plan of designed enclosure at Pinkerton (Broxmouth Deer Park) not dated, NRAS 1100/p/32.
Plan of escambion of marches of common haughs between Thurston, Pinkerton and The Brunt, 1840-1, NRAS 1100/p/28
Abbott, W. C. 1939 .
Carte, T. & Ormonde, J. B. D. 1739 A collection of original letters and papers, concerning the affairs of England, from the year 1641 to 1660: Found among the Duke of Ormonde's papers. Society for the Encouragement of Learning, London.
Firth, C. H. 1900 ' TITLE', Trans Roy Hist Soc, 14 (1900), 19-52.
Foard, G. 1995 Naseby: The Decisive Campaign. Pryor Publications, Whitstable.
Mackinnon, C. 1833 Origin and Services of the Coldstream Guards. Richard Bentley, London.
Rushworth, ? 1650 'TITLE', in Old Parliamentary History. Vol 19, 341-2.
Ward, R. 1639 Animadversions of Warre.
Historic Environment Scotland Properties
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Doon Hill, hall, InnerwickSM90098
- Designation Type
- Scheduled Monument
Battle of Dunbar IBTL31
- Designation Type
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