We're suggesting Charlestoun - and here's why!

Victory for The Prince at Prestonpans in September 1745 was greatly determined by the revelation by local farmer John Anderson that there was a pathway from Tranent through the boggy area by Riggonhead Farm that led down towards Seton Collegiate. The Highlanders decided to take it before dawn on September 21st and, marching in silence in single file, they were able to take up positions just over 200 yards from the Hanoverian redcoat lines. That was close enough for their charge to defeat the redcoats in a matter of minutes. The British Army of George II only had the chance to get off one salvo from their muskets and cannons before the Highlanders overpowered them.

The pathway the Highlanders took to gain this overwhelmingly successful tactical position is known as The Riggonhead Defile. Since the Trust was established in 2006 it has been walked regularly at the appropriate time of day ending less spectacularly with breakfast at The Gothenburg rather than in a victorious charge! Those who have walked that way since 2006 can even claim their commemorative medal [see below]!

It's because of this quite exceptional heritage that the Trust has petitioned East Lothian Council to name the new town as Charlestoun. But the Trust is also going further with Hargreaves, the owners of the lands today, to explore whether or not the new town's centre might include the long awaited Living History Centre the Trust is ambitious to create. From the new town's NW corner it will be possible to survey the battlefield and with modern technology envisage that overnight march along the Riggonhead Defile and then the battle itself.

As has been pointed out Riggonhead has been farmed for many a century. The area took the name The Prince's Park on the Ordinance Survey Maps in the mid 19th century. Blindwells Farm was some way further south of the A1 than where the opencast coalmine, which took the name Blindwells, was eventually excavated as depicted below.

It's not just a recent thought, to engage closely with Hargreaves and to seek to honour the significance of the Riggonhead Defile

The Trust petitioned East Lothian Council nearly 10 years ago for support to create a Living History Centre and was urged by Cllr. Willie Innes to look at Prestongrange Heritage Museum. This we did, seeking to convert the BathHouse there but our application to the Heritage Lottery was knocked back and the views widely expressed that it was too far from the battlefield.

After that knockback the Trust moved its focus as reported at the time by Marie Sharp in the East Lothian Courier below:

The late Andrew Hillhouse captured the historic scene in a much loved painting for the Trust shown below:

2012: Diamond Jubilee & Olympic Year Bronze Medal Struck ... for the Walkers

The Trust has always been extremely grateful to its legion of early risers, getting the Annual Re-enactment rolling each year. For 2012, the 6th Annual Walk, the Trust resolved to create a medal for all who join the Walk. But it does not wish to belittle the services of those who walked from 2007 till 2011 so they too are eligible for a retrospective medal. And so will Walkers be from 2013 and beyond. But there is to be a wee distinction. 2012 sees a red white and blue ribbon with their bronze medal whereas other years will be white and blue.

.... and if anyone is puzzled where the image comes from, it's the iconic photograph from 2007, as shown below.

Yes, there is a hidden agenda too!

There's a not very well hidden agenda that accompanies the Annual Walk it should be added. East Lothian Council and Scottish Coal have long had plans to create a new eco-friendly community at Blindwells close by the A1 north of Tranent. Outline plans quite clearly show it will be built on the site of Riggonhead farm and the Defile. So be it, provided please that the route of the Highlanders march to glorious Victory on September 21st 1745 remains open and formally recognised and celebrated.

.... and the Prestonpans Tapestry itself of course tells the story on Panel #69 shown below as stitched by Elaine McMorrine.

Published Date: Monday, July 1, 2019

The Prestonpans Tapestry created by Prestoungrange Arts Festival and the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust in support of the campaign for a Living History Centre in Prestonpans.
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