If Dougie Matheson was right, we'd certainly be in the wrong; but please read on ....
In no way are the Heritage Trust or the Parade and Re-enactments on September 15th/ 16th 'Exploiting Memory' of War Dead ….. as the sub-Editor of the East Lothian Courier chose to headline Dougie Matheson's letter [below] this week. If the Heritage Trust was so doing it would as Dougie suggests be 'immoral'.
The 1745 Prestonpans Trust's Objectives are .... 'to advocate the protection, conservation and interpretation of the battlesite ...'
Protection hasn't been easy; and there's still a threat! The major challenge was to disagree volubly with ELC and Historic Scotland [now HES] as they gave the planning nod to an electricity Sub-Station on the battlefield itself. Then we've struggled long and hard to place the Memorial Tables at the battle site - Yes we have created memorials [more below].
One of the many other things the Trust has done however, since 2006, is to conduct authentic re-enactments such as will be taking place this year on the biggest scale yet. It encourages families to attend and provides through its encampment and numerous associated activities the opportunity for those attending to learn more about the battle, why it was fought and its myriad outcomes. It also provides food and drink for the visitors.
The Trust also saw to the commissioning and completion through the artistic design and leadership of Andrew Crummy of the 104 metre Prestonpans Tapestry which will be on display at Cockenzie House throughout September. It's already been seen by more than 500,000 and been exhibited in Bayeux. The late Andrew Hillhouse captured many cameos of the battle in his six fine paintings on permanent display at The Gothenburg. The Trust recently lit the fuse that led to the creation of the flourishing 1722 Tranent/ Cockenzie Waggonway Heritage Group which will be exhibiting their maquette waggon at this year's re-enactment. That gravity Waggonway traverses the battlesite.
The Trust has also created the Permanent Memorials Dougie Matheson seeks to those who fought and died in September 1745 - two in fact. They are as we write here being erected alongside the Waggonway. Gardner Molly has been the local sculptor and East Lothian Viridor gave financial support. One table records the Clans and the other the British Army Regiments.
For this 2018 occasion the Trust has invited All Clan Chiefs and British Army Regimental Representers of those who were present on the fateful day in 1745 to join the Commemoration and Parade on September 15th 10am/ 11am from Meadowmill to Greenhills. They are coming as will our Lord Lieutenant and Provost.
The children of our community have willingly created and will carry handbanners for the Parade, knowing who and what they represent. A plaque identifying the likely location of Colonel Gardiner's 'lost' grave in Tranent Churchyard is being installed. Clan nights are being held in The Pans for those living on eponymous streets and with Clan names to discuss and share the role each Clan played in the events in 1745.
None of this, Dougie, is exploiting the memory of the war dead.
THE FULL DETAILS OF CLANS AND THE WEEKEND'S PROGRAMME ARE DOWNLOADABLE HERE.... please come with family and friends to share, see and learn and Yes, enjoy, the weekend. It's a great education, not commodification; and nothing is sanitised - although it is true that Bonnie Prince Charlie has been overly romanticised and the true story of the 1745 including Prestonpans has been obfuscated by Outlander.
P.S. Dougie Matheson of Edinburgh … we are undertaking a comprehensive review of all we attempted so far and debating what to do over the next decade. Please get in touch and discuss all that can be yet better done with us at the Trust - firstname.lastname@example.org … and indeed all others with comments and advices to give. Please.
Published Date: August 10th 2018