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Wife-Napping from Preston House and the BBC?

Lord Grange of Preston House did of course wifenap Rachel ... and worse!

James Erskine, Lord Grange, who lived in Prestonpans in the early 18th century, was an ardent Jacobite. His brother, Earl of Mar, although a signatory to the Act of Union and even Secretary of State for North Britain i.e. Scotland, had led the 1715 Uprising after the death of Queen Anne.

The myth has it that Rachel, Lady Grange, heard him plotting in the Jacobite cause and to ensure she did not let on he had her wifenapped first to North Uist and then to Hirta on St Kilda archipelago. He even held her fictitious funeral although a decade later he was exposed and she made her way back as far as Skye.

That's the background, but it's Preston House itself that is really arousing interest at the moment...

The BBC picked up the story from Dr Tony Pollard's Glasgow University archaeological team that is currently researching the 1745 batlefield - with Heritage Lottery funding. [LINKED HERE] It's all part of the big picture for the campaign by the Battle Trust and Community Council to secure a 1745 living history centre in The Pans.

The walls of Preston House in 1745 proved a major obstacle as the redcoats fled the charging Highlanders on September 21st. Many were caught there and died whilst hundreds more were taken prisoner. It is clearly very likely to be a fruitful area for their research.

But the House no longer stands today, and to do a good job archaeologically its exact location needs to be determined. Old maps are helping and today as the archaeologists search for artefacts from the battle they are checking out gardens along streets such as Jacobite Way and the grounds of the Community Centre.

Indwellers are getting greatly involved ... May 30th sees much activity

Panners living in the area thought to be the battlefield site are joining the search with metal detectors on May 30th. And very significantly those who have come across musket balls, buttons and old bones over the years along Schaw Road and Polwarth Terrace are also getting in touch with the Trust.

Do you wish to be involved ... June 2nd/ 19th?

If you'd like to be involved in further major activities bewteen June 2nd and 19th with the archaeologists, please contact Natasha Ferguson on 0141 330 5541.

This is an exciting and significant Scottish national campaign being conducted from Prestonpans. The Community Council is working with the Battle Trust to ensure that Bonnie Prince Charlie's youthful 'Hope and Ambition' are not forgotten. Michael Russel, Minister responsible for Historic Scotland, visited the Trust recently and expressed his full support for all that the community is seeking to achieve.

It's definitely ambitious, but then so was The Prince all of 264 years ago. Yes, we know he ultimately failed; which just makes the Trust more determined to make amends. Fear of failure is no reason for not 'giving it a go' as every Australian knows!

P.S. Rumour has it that BBC's One Show will carry the 1745 archaeologist's story from here in The Pans, along with reports from Dr Tony Pollard's earlier work at Culloden. Probably June 9th.

Published Date: May 29th 2009

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