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3. The Prince Triumphant [Again] - this year on the Greenhills

The Clamour of a Battle with a Known Result!

It's one of the fascinations of the Battle re-enactments each year at Prestonpans. We all know who is going to win yet still the redcoats come back for a hiding! Have you ever wondered why? And we to watch, if not from Preston Tower at least in amazement?

The accepted theory must be that everyone likes to rehear a story they already know. It's something we loved as children and it seems to be in our DNA. Whether that's right or just maybe, the Battle Trust sees its annual re-enactmemnts as a significant moment both for teaching some crucial Jacobite/ Hanoverian history that was written hereabouts, and for honouring the Bravura of Youth. Bonnie Prince Charlie was just 26 years of age and here he was taking on and defeating the Scottish establishment in our town, and de facto suspending the Union for a few heady weeks throughout October 1745. And his challenge for the throne of his grandfather very nearly succeded.

The Greenhills chosen as the new venue for 2012

After three years in Cuthill Park, and subsidiary action at Bankton and Cockenzie Houses since 2007, the re-enactments this year went to The Greenills. It's actually closer to the battlefield itself which lies 600/ 1000 yards south of the Forth from Seton Collegiate to Preston Lodge School. And it provides an admirable opportunity for the hundreds of visitors to see the action at 3pm on both Saturday and Sunday. As ever the occasion was blessed with fine weather too and a total crowd of nigh on 3000 attended across the weekend.

But there was a great deal more to the occasion than the re-enacted battle itself. The encampment this year was the largest yet and spectators spent many an hour making their way amongst the tents asking questions and being well amused! The pictures below give some flavour of it all.

[click to enlarge all photographs]

The Camerons in Tranent Churchyard and the Battle itself were depicted

The Battle Trust has in the past re-created the moments in Tranent Churchyard when the Camerons were unwisely exposed to cannon fire on the day before the battle itself. They beat a dignified retreat! [In revenge, the following day the honour of capturing all Cope's cannons and cohorns was to be their's.] This churchyard episode was created once again this year, taking advantage of one of the green hills. This re-enactment saw Cope's redcoats facing south.

Shortly thereafter the Highlanders could be seen making their way around the edge of the 'Tranent' hillside, simulating their 5AM Riggonhead Defile March, to reach a position east of Cope. Alerted, Cope swiftly wheeled his army to face them. The stage was set for the cannons to fire, the Highlanders to charge and the redcoats to flee. Much to the delight of the partisan audience the rout was well executed but not without many cries out loud, huzzahs, God Save either King James or George, and much musket fire and smoke [in that order!]. And of course, The Charge.

Tributes to the Alan Breck Regiment and the visting re-enactors

The Alan Breck Regiment of Prestonpans Volunteers led by Adam Watters, Colonel Agitant, and Arran Johnston who portrays Bonnie Prince Charlie, is responsible each year on behalf of the Battle Trust for organising the whole occasion. The crowd accorded them and their visitors an outstanding vocal vote of thanks for the entire proceedings. They had been kept informed of the sequence of events as they unfolded by raconteur Gareth Bryn-Jones, Battle Trust Chairman.

The visiting re-enactors, without whom much of the excitment could not be engendered, were led once again by the 77th Montgomeries from the Czech Republic, the Glenbuckets and Charles Edwards of Derby [all three regiments appearing every year since we began in 2007]. But they were most honourably aided and complemented [oft overawed] by other regiments present including the Stewarts of Appin (Claymore), Veritas Vincit, Lace Wars, Border Clansmen, Battlescar and Birkbeck's Battery.

Published Date: September 25th 2012

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