East Lothian Scotland
A Small Town
A Large History
The town of Prestonpans was originally named Althamer after a sailor who became shipwrecked circa 1060 and decided to stay with his shipmates as they had no way of returning home. It was the monks of Newbattle circa 1180 came and settled in the area and renamed it Priestatown. The name over the years changed due to the salt panning. Prestonpans was where one of the first post-reformation churches were built in Scotland circa 1600. Other things about Prestonpans are, the famous Battle of Prestonpans 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite Army defeated the English which 7 months later ended the Stuart battle for the crown at Culloden.
The Battle of Prestonpans
Prestonpans Battle Story is about how Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites defeated the English went as far as Derby before returning and then being defeated at Culloden. From victory to defeat took seven months 21st September 1745 (Prestonpans) 16th April 1746 Culloden. The Story boards which can be seen at the top of the Pyramid the battle site viewing platform on the B1361 on the East side of Prestonpans top road. Climb the pyramid and read the full story.
The Pyramid marks the area where the Battle of Prestonpans took place in 1745. Bonnie Prince Charlie led the Jacobite Army in a triumph over the English. There is a story board at the summit of the Pyramid with the story of the Jacobite uprising and the route to glory and defeat.
John Muir Way
The John Muir way starts in Dunbar and finishes in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland. From North Berwick to the Musselburgh - Edinburgh border, the John Muir way follows the coast through all the small coastal villages.
The route is great for walking or cycling. All the attractions of the towns and villages on the route can be seen on this site.
The Hamilton’s have been the land owners of Preston from circa 1380. Circa 1620 Sir John Hamilton of Preston was granted the lands and barony of Preston and Prestonpans by King James VI. Sir Thomas Hamilton was created Lord Binning in 1613 and later in 1627 he became the 1st Earl of Haddington. While his brother Sir John Hamilton (1565 -1644) had a house built in Preston East Lothian in 1628 which he named Hamilton House. In 1663 Preston became a free burgh with the right to hold markets. Sir William Hamilton, 1st baronet, of Preston was born in 1647 and became a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1673. Sr William Alexander first to receive the ownership of Nova Scotia in 1625. Baron The Duke of Hamilton now resides at Lennoxlove House near Haddington.
Inscription (above window) reads: praise be the lord my | Strenth and my redeimer (above the door) J.H K.S 1628 and the joint coat of arms of the Hamilton and Sympson families.
On the Side Wall the three windows have inscriptions J (Shield) H 16 ( J H K S intertwined) 28 K (Shield) S the initials JH represent Sir John Hamilton who built the house in 1628. He originally named the house Magdalens’ House, as he was Lord Magdalen and the KS is for his wife Katherine Sympson. The Shields are of the Hamiltons and Sympsons.
Northfield House Prestonpans
Northfield House was built circa 1580 by George Hamilton the first owner and sold to Joseph Marjoribanks. A common stone above the door in these times were the owner’s initials and date normally called a marriage stone. In this case, the stone over the doorway with 1611 and the initials of J.M. (Joseph Marjoribanks) and M.S. (Marion Simpson) and the inscription ‘EXCEP THE LORD BVLD IN WANE BVLDS MAN’. Marjoribanks was a Burgess of Edinburgh.
Northfield House Do’cot
Northfield House Do’cot was were the owners of Northfield House would get fresh meat. All the large houses and estates would have a Do’cot this is a bee hive shaped Do’cot, where Preston Tower has a Cottage shaped Do’cot.
They would take the young pigeons for food as they were the most tender. The pigeons still use the Do’cot to this day but they are not used as food.
Prestonpans church was burnt down in 1544 and a new church was built in 1595. The present church was built in 1774 with parts of the previous Church. In the graveyard of Kirk Street in Prestonpans can be seen graves with dates from the 16th century. The tombstone below has an inscription born 1596 he died Feb 25 16 # # on the right and on the left John Hepburn.
Above the door of the church is said to be the first ever mural.
Thomas Alexander CB
The Monument to Thomas Alexander CB stands in the gardens in front of Prestongrange Church on the south side of the High Street at Kirk Wynd. Thomas Alexander was born in Prestonpans in May 1812. He was an Army surgeon and took part in many campaigns and became the Director General of the Medical Department of the British Army. His main goals were to see improvements to the conditions the soldiers had to live in, especially during the Crimean war. The memorial was erected in 1862.
Captain John Stuart
The Grave in Prestongrange Churchyard of Captain John Stuart of Phisgul Galloway.
Here lyeth the remains of John Stuart of Phisgul, a Galloway gentleman and Captain Lessel’s Reg’m’t, a man of true bravery who died honourably in defence of his King and country, and of civil and religious liberty, being barbarously murder’d by four Highlanders near the end of the Battle fought in the field of Preston on the 21st Sept 1745.
The Gothenburg in Prestonpans built in 1908 still runs under the original Gothenburg Public-house system. Where the majority of the income is given to charity to benefit the community. The system was originally started in Sweden in 1855 to control the consumption of alcohol. The Gothenberg also has a memorial to the 81 witches falsely accused of witchcraft. The Gothenburg is also home to the Prestonpans Tapestry.
The Totem Pole 32 foot high, that stands across from the Gothenburg was carved from a red cedar tree from Chemainus Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada. The carvings give a pictorial story of the area and was erected in 2006 when the 6th Global Murals Conference took place in Prestonpans. Halfway up you can see the number 81 in memory of the Witches that were burnt unjustly and then pardoned in 2004. The other 3 Totem poles are caved from a log also given by Chemainus Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada. and the mural of the Witches Trial can be seen in the play park.
The Mercat Cross that stands in Prestonpans is the oldest remaining Mercat Cross in its original form and position in Scotland. Five Mercat Cross were built in the early 1600s all to the same design and for the same purpose, to make important civic announcements. Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross is still used for government proclamations that affected all of Scotland. An example, announcements concerning successions to the monarchy and the calling to parliament. There is an entrance to steps which bring you out at a platform where the announcements are read.
The Unicorn is the ancient emblem of Scotland and stands at the top of the Mercat Cross.
The Robert Burns Memorial Garden and Cairn that commemorates the 200th anniversary of Robert Burns death.
The Tam O’Shanter mural can be found inside the Burns Gated shelter, next to the Robert Burns Memorial Cairn, in the Robert Burns memorial Garden.
The inscriptions on the tablets read:
That I for poor auld | Scotland’s sake | Some usefu’ plan or | beuk could make | Or sing a sang | at least.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that, | It’s coming yet for a’ that, | That Man to Man, the world o’er, | Shall brothers be for a’ that.
The Cairn was unveiled | On the 26th July 1996 | To commemorate | The bicentenary | Of the death of the poet | Robert Burns
The writing above the doorway reads “BETTER A WEE BUSH THAN NAE BIELD” The translation is “it is better to have some shelter than no shelter at all”.
Robert Burns Garden
Prestonpans Robert Burns Memorial Garden Kinetic Sculpture Leslie Frank Chorley
The Prestonpans Harbour first known as New Haven was built by the monks of Newbattle Abbey as a shelter to fishermen and their boats in the mid 1500s. The name changed and finally was named after the land owners Morrison. (Morrison’s Haven in Prestongrange). Situated directly across from Prestongrange Museum.
The Coal Mine of Prestongrange now a museum has been an important part I the history of not just Prestonpans but Dalkeith and Edinburgh. The monks from Newbattle Abbey were given the charter for the lands and started mining coal circa 1190. With many raw materials around the coast sand, kelp and clay, many industries started here which included brickwork, potteries, glass works and ceramics. The main supply of bricks to build Edinburgh’s New Town were provided from the brickwork which closed in 1975 after over 200 years of brick making. Salt was also refined here giving the name Salt Pans. The monks renamed the area Prieststown circa 1190 previously it was Althammer. seen below a carriage from the railway that transport the coal,
Cornish Beam Engine
Cornish Beam Engine installed in 1874 and continued working until 1954
Prestonpans Town Hall
The Town Hall opened in 1897 and above the main door can be seen the Prestonpans burgh crest, with the Mercat Cross in the centre, also reliefs of local industries. These included crossed anchor, mining pick and salt shovel, with a sheaf of barley with crossed sickles. Donating Salt panning, Mining, Fishing and Agriculture.
Preston Tower is no long accessible but can be seen from the beautiful well-kept gardens. The Tower was built in an L-shape in the late 1300s or early 1400s and was the home of the Hamiltons of Preston. The area around the Tower was once called Preston. Preston Tower has had a unlucky past, the Tower has been burnt 3 times 1544, 1650 and again in 1663 and has been vacant since. In the far corner of the gardens is a do’ cot which is still in use by the local pigeons. There is also a very impressive laburnum arch and well manicured gardens.
Prestonpans Mural Trail
The Prestonpans murals show the history of the area and the Murals Trail starts at the Gothenburg and winds its way around the streets of Prestonpans. There are over 30 Murals to see and include John Knox, The Witches Gate, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns Tam O Shanter . There is also a number of things to see in the Burns Memorial Garden.
The memorial on the same road to the Prestonpans Battle site is the Shrine, not far from the cairn for the Battle of Prestonpans. The sculpture is of two miners digging for coal in a mine shaft and was created by a local stonemason Gardner. Coal mining was a major industry in the area from circa 1200 to 1964 when the East Lothian mines were closed (Meadowmill and Bellyford).
The memorial of a soldier in the Royal Scots uniform was unveiled in April 1922. The memorial is dedicated to the fallen in World War I and World War II. There is also a bronze plaque Dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in the defence of democracy in Spain between 1936 -1939 with a quote from Byron “they never fail who die in a great cause.” A simple inscription on the memorial reads; “To the glorious memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives for their country 1914-1918, 1939-1945”
Spanish Civil War Memorial
The bronze plaque beside Prestonpans War Memorial in High Street Prestonpans reads; ‘Dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in the defence of democracy. Spain 1936 -1939.’ It also includes a quote from the poet Byron: “They never fail who die in a great cause.” 3 men from Prestonpans fought in in the Spanish Civil War one of whom John Gilmour was unfortunately killed in Feb 1937
The sculpture commemorates the 81 residents of Prestonpans East Lothian, who were executed for witchcraft in the 16th century. The totem pole at the shore also is a memorial and more about the withes can be seen in The Goth
This is one of many sculptures by Andy Scott the sculptor who created the world famous Kelpies in the Helix Park in Grangemouth
Royal Musselburgh Golf Club
Royal Musselburgh Golf Club play for the Old Club Cup first won in 1774 by Thomas McMillan, which make it the oldest golf club trophy still competitively played for in the world to this day. A golf club was formed in 1760 by a group of local enthusiasts and played over the old Musselburgh course. Royal Musselburgh Golf Club had their first club house at 9 Links Place, now, 9 Balcarres Road Musselburgh. Prestongrange House has a long history and a building has been on the site since circa 1185 when it was known as Newbattle Grange. The Present building has been renovated and extended through 5 centuries and became the home to the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club in 1926.
The North British Railway Tavern
The North British Railway Tavern was first a dwelling House, an asylum, a soldiers barracks, built 1628 possibly one of the oldest buildings in Prestonpans.
The Prestonpans Tapestry has 104 tapestry panels that tell the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite army against the mighty army of the English in 1745, the final Jacobite uprising. The tapestry was first viewed in July 2010 and has been on show across the UK and in France. The Tapestry was designed by Andrew Crummy and was created by Dorie Wilkie and a small core team plus over 200 crafts people.
This is a historic document that should be on show all year round to remind people of the Scottish culture.
Chase to Culloden
Also the might of the English government forces were at their backs led by the King’s son the Duke of Cumberland, so they continued further into the highlands. On the 16th April 1746 the English caught up with the Jacobite army and on Culloden field the Jacobite army was wiped out and the remainder scattered throughout the Highlands. Charles eluded the English and on the 19 September fled to France where he remained till his death.
Ban on Tartan
Cumberland took measures to stop the clans from uniting again and with an act of parliament in 1746 the wearing of tartan except as a uniform for officers and soldiers in the British Army was banned. Tartan became popular again in 1822 with George IV wearing full tartan dress a prerequisite of his visit to Scotland arranged by Sir Walter Scott and Henry Dundas. When George the IV stepped on Scottish land at Leith it was the first regaining monarch to stand on Scottish soil since King Charles I for his Scottish coronation in 1633.
Battle of Prestonpans
Bankton House was originally called Olivestob and built by the Monks of Newbattle circa 1130. The house changed hands over the years, owned by many of the rich and powerful of the time. the Ker’s of Newbattle, Seton’s, Hamilton’s and Colonel James Gardiner purchased the house circa 1730 as his family home. and that is where he died at the end of the Battle of Prestonpans which took place on the lands to the east and north of the house.
Battle of Prestonpans
The Bankton Doocot is a visitor attraction and once inside the story of James Gardiner of Bankton House will be told. Which includes Battle Prestonpans 1745.
Battle of Prestonpans
Colonel James Gardiner’s Obelisk
The Obelisk stands near to Bankton House his family home in Prestonpans. Colonel James Gardiner was one of Sir John Cope’s Dragoon commanders at the battle of Prestonpans in 1745. James Gardiner was born in Carriden West Lothian in 1687 and became a career soldier in the British Army as was his father. He died gallantly due to wound sustained on the 21st of September 1745 at the Battle of Prestonpans, when battling against the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Bankton House was where Colonel Gardiner was taken and subsequently died of his wounds sustained in the battle.
Battle of Prestonpans
The Thorntree Memorial Stone
The Thorntree Memorial Stone stands in the vicinity of where Colonel Gardiner was to be fatally injured beside a Thorntree. Near to Bankton House can be seen a monument which was erected in 1853 in Colonel Gardiner’s memory. The inscription reads; During the Battle of Prestonpans fought on 21st September 1745 Colonel Gardiner of Bankton was fatally injured beneath a Hawthorn tree in this area.
The inscription at the foot of the triangular stones reads;
“The Gov’t forces led by Johnie Cope” | “The Battle was fought between the Jacobite’s” | “Led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and”
Harlawhill House Prestonpans
Harlawhill House was first owned by the Hamilton’s of Preston the Hamilton’s being the major land owners of the area circa 1350 till 1701 on Sir Robert Hamilton of Preston’s death. The Harlawhill House built circa 1640 has little history. The Fowler’s Robert and son John once owned the house and it then was passed to his sister’s son Robert Hislop who became sole owner. The house overlooked their Brewery which stood on the High Street and Harlawhill.
Drummore (Drummohr) House Prestonpans
Sir Hew Dalrymple purchase the lands of Westpans in 1733. The house was demolished during the English invasion circa 1745. A new larger house was built by Lord Drummore (Sir Hew Dalrymple) in 1753. The estate was later passed to his son David Dalrymple (Lord Westhall) in 1755. David Dalrymple sold the estate to Rev Robert Finlay of Wallyford in 1762. Who then sold it on to the Aitchison family in 1808. William Aitcheson was wealthy land owner and Distiller and had 9 children Colonel William Aitcheson his son inherited the property in 1846. Circa 1880 renovations were carried out by the new owner and since then the house has had many uses one of which in 1928 Loretto School purchased the estate which was where the Loretto girl’s school was established.
DEO PATRIAE AICIS
To God My Country and Friends
The Flow and Greatly