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The Battle of Prestonpans 1745

Monuments on Prestonpans Battlefield

1745 memorial cairn DSCF3276 Prestonpans Battlefield - Gardiner's Monument memorial tables

In the years which followed the battle, the main marker point on the battlefield was the solitary hawthorntree beneath which Colonel Gardiner had fallen. It appeared in engravings, paintings and then in early photographs too (left), whilst cuttings were taken as souvenirs. Eventually this venerable three-trunked tree would itself die, and despite being propped up with iron rods its remains finally blew down. Pieces of the original tree can be found in the stores of the National War Museum and the East Lothian Council Museums Service. The only piece visible on display is that belonging to the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust, which can be found at The Prestoungrange Gothenburg. The tree also features on the Trust's logo. 

 

In 1932 the Society for the Preservation of Rural Scotland erected a large stone cairn to replace the thorntree as the main location marker for the battlefield (top right). It was designed by William Davidson; wreaths are laid here in honour of those who fought. Its inscription simply reads "1745". When local children uncovered a few bones in the nearby field in the early 1950s, the remains were reinterred next to the cairn.

 

In 1998, as housing expanded onto the extreme west of the battlefield, a further monument was erected. This marked the approximate location of Colonel Gardiner's last stand - the site of the lost thorntree. Carved by Borders-based artist Michelle de Bruin, the Thorntree Monument stands beside a children's playpark off Preston Crescent (right).

 

The largest monument to the battle however is to be found further west, in the grounds of Bankton House. The Colonel Gardiner Monument is a stone obelisk guarded by four reclining lions, and it was erected in 1853 by public subscription. It symbolises the resurgence of interest in Gardiner and the battle generally which followed their inclusion in Walter Scott's Waverley. The monument can be visited on foot and is easily visible from the railway line, as its builders had intended. With Gardiner's former home as its backdrop, along with the mighty trees which once formed the entrance avenue avenue to it, the obelisk is a favourite location for battlefield visitors. It is a short walk from the Bankton Doocot.

thorn-tree

In 2016, the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust proposed the creation of two new monuments on the battlefield. These memorial tables (left) would list the regiments and clans which fought at the battle, and would be dedicated to those who fell in the fighting. They would be positioned in the western zone of the battlefield, where many of those who died met their end and close to where they are believed to be buried. In 2018 these parts of the battlefield came into council ownership and the Trust is seeking to install the memorial tables in time for the commemorations in September.