Our Colonel's Second Memorial
Researching That Thorn Tree Trail
Most visitors to Prestonpans are unaware that there are two memorials to Colonel Gardiner who fell fighting for the Hanoverians alongside 16 others on September 21st 1745. The second more recent one stands close to the point where the Thorntree stood for many a year after the Battle.
It is to be found at the head of Jacobite Way in an area mainly dedicated to children's play - see fourth image. Indeed when last photographed it can be seen the children have embellished the excellent carved stone.
The East Lothian News reported the completion of the sculpture and playground in May 1998, with Michelle de Bruin as the artist:
'East Lothian Council has finished work on a new play area and local park at Preston Crescent, Jacobite Way, Prestonpans. It took more than eight weeks to complete and cost £60,000. The park has been landscaped with trees and shrubs, a footpath network created and the area made safe with boundary fences. There is a toddlers' play area equipped with swings, activity unit and springy animals.
'The memorial sculpture, commissioned from local sculptor Michelle de Bruin, commemorates the Battle of Prestonpans and the hawthorn tree under which Colonel Gardiner was fatally wounded during combat.'
It was welcomed at the time by Battle Trustee [sometime Provost] Pat O'Brien: "I am delighted to see this play park opened on what was previously a piece of waste land" - he of course now knows that he actually meant valuable battle archaeological site!
click on all images to enlarge
Repatriating That Tree Stump and Restoring the Battlefield
As all Supporters of the Campaign by the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust will know, the final resting place of 'That' Stump of 'That' Thorntree is a military museum in Edinburgh. Not only has the Big City taken a hold of the 1581 Prestongrange Ceiling it also holds that Stump of ours. But there are determined plans for That Stump's Return to Prestonpans once the new Visitor Centre is in place.
And there are plans to restore the patterns of agriculture as practised in the mid 18th century to the battlefield seen below standing to the right of the remains of the infamous Preston House wall against which so many Hanoverian infantrymen were killed, wounded or captured. The Hanoverian dragoons being on horseback were fortunate in that they could leap over it to flee the onslaught although Colonel Gardiner did not take that course of action and paid for it with his life.
His heroism has long made him the most remembered individual on the field of battle that day as reflected by his two memorials. But Sir John Hay of Park's ancestor, the 3rd Baronet Sir Thomas, was one of the 16 who fought with Gadiner and the search is now on led by Sir John to trace the others as well.
... and the first and larger memorial?
.. that is linked here for those who have not yet had the opportunity to visit it. It is pictured here with Bonnie Prince Charlie's Battle Flag which the Campaign has adopted.
Published Date: November 16th 2006