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At Cockenzie Shall the Tale Unfold ...... September 21st ... 272 years on ...

Unique Book launch and Author Signing at Cockenzie House ... and it's nothing to do with Outlander!

Why Gledèsmuir or Gladsmuir?

It was a prediction in the mid 15th century Romance of Thomas The Rhymer that the Highlanders would have a great victory at Gledèsmuir or Gladsmuir. As it transpired, in 1745 they did indeed have such a great Victory but it was some 10 miles further west than today's village of Gladsmuir, close by Prestonpans and midway between Cockenzie/Port Seton and Charlestoun-Blindwells/ Tranent ....

This is Arran Johnston's fourth book on the battles of East Lothian and his third on Prestonpans. It comes a decade after US Civil Rights lawyer and occasional resident on South Uist, Martin Margulies, produced a definitive volume on the Prince's campaign from France to Prestonpans but it's certainly timely as the 1745 Battle Trust seeks to establish a permanent Living History Centre in The Pans.

The Publisher's blurb quite rightly indicates its unique orientation which is the climax of years of on-site investigation and source analysis, piecing together the events of the Prestonpans campaign in unprecedented detail.

It focuses literally on the week of the battle using the author's deep knowledge of the towns and villages through which the armies marched, bringing their motions vividly to life. Combined with eyewitness testimonies and close scrutiny of the evidence presented to Cope's Board of Inquiry in 1746, this allows the reader to understand the build-up to the battle from an individual, as well as strategic, perspective. Such an understanding is discerned to be critical, as the effects of morale, landscape and personality are shown to have determined the fate of the battle far more than the relative power of broadsword and bayonet.

The book opens with an exploration of the battlefield area prior to the Rising, before analysing the political and military strengths and weaknesses of the opposing causes; this includes rarely-provided information on the career of Sir John Cope.

After following the opening campaign in the Highlands, the reader is then taken on a detailed day-by-day journey through the week leading to the battle. The account of the engagement itself - driven by eyewitness testimony and contemporary evidence - also incorporates the latest archaeological analysis of the site to create the most detailed and engaging presentation yet of this famous and dramatic event. Its aftermath and legacy, both on a local and national level, is then considered before the book concludes with a look at the changes which have occurred across the battlefield landscape up to the present day.

This is a totally fresh study of one of Britain's best-documented, but least analysed, battles - seen from within the landscape and communities around which it was fought. No longer should the two days of events which made up the Battle of Prestonpans be viewed simply as the prologue to a future defeat; instead, they are presented as they were understood at the time: as the climax of a month-long campaign which, it seemed, would determine the fate of Scotland.

It's published by Helion and is of course available on Amazon; but best to meet the author and get him to sign your own 1st Edition at Cockenzie House on September 21st!


Ed: The book cover by Peter Dennis has great significance. Ask the author when you meet/ search as you read; and take note that Lt Colonel Whitney, the redcoat officer to the left, has a wounded left wrist, just struck by a musket ball.

Published Date: August 21st 2017

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