Page last updated at 01:28 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 02:28 UK

Historic graves under supermarket

Shopping trolley sign
The deep graves may have survived beneath the supermarket

Archaeologists believe they have traced a mass grave of soldiers who fought in a 17th Century battle in Germany under a modern-day supermarket.

Scots - many of them Highlanders - were among the ranks of Protestant soldiers fighting Catholic forces at Lutzen, a key clash during the 30 Years War.

Culloden expert Dr Tony Pollard has been involved in an international team's investigations at Lutzen.

He said another mass grave on another part of the battlefield may be probed.

Protestants claimed victory at Lutzen in 1632.

Thousands died, including the triumphant army's leader, the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus.

This area was a chess board on which the history of Europe was played out
Dr Tony Pollard

Dr Pollard, of the University of Glasgow, spent a week with other European archaeologists who have been conducting a long-running investigation at the battlefield.

He has been interested in finding evidence of Scots fighters.

Dr Pollard said mention of the mass grave came to light during research of documents on the battle. The location was used for mounting a gun battery, before being turned over to the dead.

In 1901, human remains were found during the building of a house at the same spot.

Dr Pollard said: "Since then there has been the construction of a supermarket and car park.

"There is a possibility the graves survived because it seem they were dug deep, but there is probably little that can be done now because of the supermarket being there.

"However, hundreds of men were killed in this battle and there could be other graves. Bodies were said to have been lain side-by-side along a road and we think that we have identified the road and graves may not be too far away."

Historic relics

A Napoleonic battle overlaps the site and archaeologists have uncovered buttons of soldiers in French regiments from that period, as well as relics from the 1600s.

Dr Pollard said: "This area was a chess board on which the history of Europe was played out. It is really quite exciting to be involved."

The archaeologist hopes to return to Lutzen next spring. Meanwhile, German experts have continued their work at the battlefield.

Later this month, Dr Pollard will be among the speakers at Scotland's Global Impact Conference in Inverness.

The three-day event will be chaired by broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and is being held as part of Homecoming Scotland - a celebration of all things Scottish.

Other speakers include Highland Clearances experts and writers Eric Richards and Prof James Hunter.

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