In the early hours of the morning 20th September 2015 I arrived in a dark car park in Tranent. I was not alone, I had been persuaded to take part in reenactment of Riggonhead March by my friend Jan. We joined Bonnie Prince Charlie – Arran Johnston – with other reenactors to walk from Tranent to Seton.
I have the medal to prove it!
Before we set of we had the chance to have something to eat – scotch egg and soup.
It was an uneventful march – part of us getting lost at one point – but lovely to see the sun come up on a warm September morning.
This is a reenactment of a march that took place in the early hours before the Battle of Prestonpans.
On 20 September Cope’s forces encountered Charles’s advance guard. Cope decided to stand his ground and engage the Jacobite army. He drew up his army facing south with a marshy ditch to their front, and the park walls around Preston House protecting their right flank. A Highlander supporter, Robert Anderson was a local farmer’s son who knew the area well and convinced Charles’s Lieutenant General, Lord George Murray of an excellent narrow route through the marshlands. Commencing at 4 a.m. he moved the entire Jacobite force walking three abreast along that route, known as the Riggonhead Defile, in total silence arriving to the east of Cope’s army at Seton West Mains. Although Cope kept fires burning and posted pickets during the night as the Highlanders were making their move they were not spotted by the pickets until around 5 a.m. Source – Battle of Prestonpans trust
This is shown in the episode Prestonpans.
Inverness is where we stayed on our Outlander adventure to the highlands. It features in the books. Inverness Castle is used as council offices. There are great views up at the castle plus a statue of Flora MacDonald – she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Inverness Castle was originally a 12th century earth and timber enclosure fortress, founded by King David I. In the early 14th century during the Wars of Independence, English troops under King Edward I occupied the castle, which was taken and destroyed by King Robert the Bruce in 1310. In the early 15th century Alexander, earl of Mar, founded a stone castle on the hill and in the 16th century George Gordon, earl of Huntly added a high square stone tower. Seizes and badly damaged by the Royalists in 1649, from 1653-8 Cromwell’s Fort was built at the mouth of the River Ness. In 1726, General Wade transformed the castle into the square Hanoverian Fort George, with a governor’s house and a chapel, encased by barracks. Surrendered to the Jacobite army of Prince Charles Edwards Stuart in 1746, the castle was blown up after the Battle of Culloden. A dramatic mid 19th century neo-Norman castle now stands on the site, built to house the Sheriff Courthouse and County Hall and all that remains of the medieval castle are a deep resorted well and part of the bastion wall.
Source – Castles Net
Today I went for a visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. I had been before but not for a few years. The palace is mentioned in Dragonfly in Amber as where Prince Charlie set up court after the Battle of Prestonpans. Holyroodhouse became the symbolic residence of Prince Charlie in his Scottish capital; he conducted his offical business in the Palace and lunched in public view. The Great Gallery became the setting for a ball and other evening entertainments. The pictures in the Great Gallery were damaged by Red Coats when they were billeted at Holyroodhouse in 1746.
Another day another location this time Linlithgow Palace. This was used as part of Wentworth Prison in Wentworth and To Ransom a Man’s Soul. The entrance and some corridors were used.
It had been a while since I had been to Linlithgow Palace. The last time was with my children when one of them was studying Mary Queen of Scots at primary school. I had forgotten how beautiful the place is and large. It was fun wandering around trying to work out what and where had been used in the series.
Linlithgow Palace was a royal palace. The last royalty to stay there was Bonnie Prince Charlie on his way to Edinburgh. The palace was destroyed by fire in 1746 after a visit from the Duke of Cumberland!
While on the tour of Prestonpans I found out that before going to Prestonpans the Jacobities were camped at Duddingston. While out for a walk I found the house he stayed in.
More information on Duddingston can be found here – www.scottish-places.info
Just over a week ago I made a comment on Outlandish UK Facebook page that there wasn’t much to mark the Battle of Prestonpans. Well this sparked another member of the group to prove me wrong and organise a tour of the Battlefield.
On Saturday 11th July a group of Outlander fans – with some husbands in tow – met at Meadowfield Sports Centre, Prestonpans. We were joined by Arran Johnstone, head of the Prestonpans Heritage Trust.
We started by walking up the old wagon way to Tranent Church. Initially the Jacobites occupied the churchyard but later withdrew to Tranent. Then as the battle took place this is where Colonel Gardiner was taken when wounded and he later died in the manse. He is believed to be buried in the churchyard but currently his grave maybe covered with undergrowth.
From the churchyard we walked back down the wagon way and up the man made pyramid hill to the battle viewpoint. Steep climb but worth it for the view and information at the top – this is in the process of being updated. The flag flown is Bonnie Prince Charlie’s standard. This is changed to the union flag for one week of the year between the anniversary of the birth and death of George II.
Next we walked towards the road and joining back up the wagon way. Here Arran pointed out where the battle took place and described the events of the battle. We could have listened for hours about what happened in September 1745.
We retraced our steps and walked back along the road into a park area where we were surprised to find a memorial to Colonel Gardiner marking roughly where the thorn tree was where he was wounded.
From here we walked through bushes down a makeshift path into Thorntree Fields. This is where the fallen from both sides were buried by the locals of Prestonpans in four pits. This area is under threat by developers who wish to build industrial units on this site. The Prestonpans Historical Trust wish to buy or lease the land and create a memorial to all the fallen. More information on this can be found on the Historical Trust facebook page. This is a very peaceful place and it would be a shame to loose this.
The tour continued with us walking to Bankton House and the Colonel Gardiner memorial. Bankton House was Colonel Gardiner’s house and after the battle was used as a field hospital to treat the wounded of both sides. Bankton House was destroyed by fire but where it was rebuild the outside had to kept the same as the original. It is now a private residence. Outside the grounds of the house the memorial to Colonel Gardiner can be found. This was built in the 1800s and could be seen from passing trains.
The tour concluded back in Meadowfield Sports Centre car park. An enjoyable afternoon was had by all. I learned more about the battle and hope to revisit the sites again soon.
The first week of the school holidays was glorious weather and I found myself driving in East Lothian. I recently read Dragonfly in Amber. In the book Jamie and Claire are involved in the Battle of Prestonpans – the beginning of the 1745 uprising. I had in the past seen the cairn that marks the battle but this time I discovered that there is a viewpoint of the battlefield. The photos show the view from the top of the hill. I brought my pocket Jamie with me.
After posting my photos on the Outlanderish UK facebook page a discussion was started and a tour of the battlefield has been organised for Saturday 11th July.
The Battle of Prestonpans is located to the east and south of Prestonpans across a large, mixed-use landscape. The battle, fought on the 21st September 1745, was the first action of the Jacobite ’45 rebellion and was a dramatic Jacobite victory. Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was present at the battle, leading his army of plaid clad Highlanders against the redcoats of General John Cope.
The battle was fought in the early morning of the 21st and very quickly the government army was overwhelmed and routed. Terrified by the ferocity of the Highland charge, many of Cope’s army fled. The Government soldiers were pursued by the Jacobites for over a kilometre until many were trapped and cut down against the walls of Preston House and Bankton House. Some managed to find there way through the narrow defile running between the two parks or through breeches in the walls. Hundreds were killed in the aftermath and many were taken prisoner.
Much of the battle landscape still survives and the best way to experience the site is to either climb up to the top of the viewing mound at Meadowmill (take A198 off the A1 and follow signs for Meadowmill sports centre and Battle site) or follow the self-guided walk described in the battle leaflet downloadable from the following website www.battleofprestonpans1745.org.
Source – www.visiteastlothian.org