X. Ambitious? You bet. But then so was the Prince and The Trust is here to follow his example...
One Re-enactor clocked 17 miles on his pedometer!
N.B. Throughout please click on the coloured highlights to link to the full report on each element.
It was a tough programme for re-enactors, and it had its anxious moments for key behind the scenes organisers Kristine Cunningham and Sylvia Burgess, but the verdict now the dust has settled on the 2008 Celebrations is that it 'worked well, better than we could have hoped'. Not to mention the deeply gratifying surprise arrival of an original portion of the 1931 Gardiner Thorntree courtesy of Leslie and Leslie of Haddington and Gordon Veitch!
The partying began at Edinburgh's Mercat Cross at noon on the 17th, 263 years on from the original occasion when Heralds and The Prince made their Proclamations. Next there was an Exhibition and Reception at Holyrood hosted by Iain Gray, our MSP lately elected national Labour Leader - almost certainly with Hanoverian ancestry. The following morning a two day HLF part-sponsored Symposium began at The Pans Community Centre with talks on Day 1 and the Battle of Pots 'n Pans at 7.30pm; then glorious interactivity throughout Day 2 with youngsters, Janet Paisley's authors workshop, the launch of the autumn battlefield archaelogical studies by Glasgow University and Gordon Veitch's 1745 BattleGaming programme.
In parallel eventing at Duddingston The Prince held his Council of war over lunch at the Sheep Heid and met the Jenkinson sisters outwith The Cottage where he had stayed in 1745. He was indeed so enamoured of the sisters [destined later to nurse a dying Colonel Gardiner at Tranent Manse] that they sat either side of him throughout the luncheon after receiving gifts of a ring and a snuff box. Whoever said the Prince had no time for young ladies whilst in Edinburgh?
Cope's Redcoats Occupied The Pans and Battle Looms
From the moment the Alan Breck Volunteers [aka Prestonpans Royal British Legion] pipes and drums heralded the redcoat occupation of The Pans on Friday night it was clear a battle was looming. After an uplifting evening at The Gothenburg, early in the morning the Highlanders assembled in Tranent and walked the Riggonhead Defile at 4.45 am. Thanks again to the Gothenburg they were fortified as they walked with Scotch egg, an apple and water and advised to pick blackberries as they marched! And on arrival at Seton Collegiate they were able to delay the imminent battle awhile as they enjoyed a fine Scottish breakfast back at The Goth. But by 9.30am they were back to Bankton House where Colonel Gardiner [aka Rev Robert Simpson] was again mortally wounded, this time more spectacularly than in 2007 as he fell head over heels from the cart under the less than watchful eye of the Depute Provost, Roger Knox, a miller/ his servant, responsible for delivering him later to Tranent Manse.
This cameo accomplished the re-enactors were invited to walk east, climb the bing, lay a wreath at the cairn on Middle Road and with the Pipes and Drums make ready to charge across the Waggonway or flee in panic according to uniform. The march back to The Pans with the Pipes and Drums reminded Pannners once again of the impending major encounter in Cuthill Park at 2.30pm but first The Goth again ensured the army marched on well filled bellies.
Cuthill Is Certainly Alive Again ... and Looking Well
The Friends of Cuthill Park who are waging their interminable campaign for its total restoration as a community asset must have been well delighted by 2.30 to see the Park buzzing with over 300 gongoozlers and re-enactors. The re-enactors spun their regimental yarns and the canoniers made ready with flying sods. The redcoats set out a picket line and practised their drill. Highlanders appeared from behind scrubland in brief forays which ere long captured the redcoats canon turning its fire on the redcoats instead. Then came the fabled Highland charge... with cries and shrieks the pipes a'wailin. The redcoats tussled in vain, but soon fled towards Morrison's Haven where to close the programme they sought to flee across the Forth with the asistance of gongoozlers from the Forth Yacht Club who had sailed across from Pittenweem to watch the battle. Only one escaped, as history tells us. The rest were made prisoner.
... and for unwinding relaxation, 17 miles later, what could be better than a brisk celidh at the Community Centre with haggis!
Thanks are of course due to the re-renactors. Veterans from 2007 in the Glenbuckets and 77th [Czech] Montgomeries were with us as were new faces from Lace Wars. And our own Alan Breck Regiment under Agitant Adam Watters was in action under its colours for the first time too. Thanks too to Peter MacKenzie, veteran Battlefield Walker since 2000, who again filled the role of Roving Historian, placing each activity in its context. And to Linda Sneddon and Garry Menzies who took the majority of the photographs presented across all the links.
Onwards to 2009 ....
The Trustees, whilst getting their breath back and shoes repaired, are reviewing the outcomes in 2007 and 2008 to design and create their 2009 programme. What seems highly likely is that an event will be arranged in The Pans in July in partnership with the Clan Chief's Highland Gathering in King's Park, as well as on September 18th/ 19th - this latter as an event in the 2009 HomeComing Programme from EventScotland.
The East Lothian Courier gave the celebrations a full page of colour pictures, linked HERE. And Andrea MacCallum reported as below. Click to enlarge to read!
The East Lothian News carried the story with a picture from Garry Menzies, a Trust Supporting photographer as below:
Finally, The Scotsman and Scotland-on-Sunday covered the stories as did Scottish TV.
Published Date: October 8th 2008