• Kaitlyn Chatwood

New Exhibition to showcase Battle Of Prestonpans history.

Updated: Jul 2

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust has set out an exhibition at the John Gray Centre in Haddington this year from 7th August to 29th October. This exhibition titled 'Hey Johnnie Cope!' is a family-friendly and educational affair which will take you on a journey through the history of the Battle of Prestonpans, an important battle in Scottish history between the Jacobites and the English Redcoat army.

This exhibition will mark the cultural legacy that the Battle of Prestonpans leaves behind with a variety of art pieces, historical artifacts and written remembrances; this includes paintings from the 21st century, Jacobite songbooks, engravings from the Victorian era and 18th century artifacts. There will be two Gaelic cultural workshops by Dolina Maclennan, singer, actress, writer, broadcaster and campaigner, working with poetry and song.

In the fields at Prestonpan today, there are a variety of monuments to visit including the famous thorn tree. This thorn tree is known for presiding over the local resident Colonel James Gardiner as he was mortally wounded during the battle. Two pieces of the thorn tree were preserved; one was sent to the Edinburgh’s Naval and Military Museum and the second was held by the Battle Heritage Trust in Prestonpans. For this exhibition, the two branches will be reunited for the first time.

The Battle of Prestonpans itself marks an important day in Scottish history when Bonnie Prince Charlie, along with Scottish clans and Highlanders loyal to the Jacobite cause, defeated the Redcoat army loyal to the Hanoverian King George II in 1745. This battle was over in 15 minutes in part due to the famous Highland Charge, which is a fearsome sight to behold.

The Battle, which took place September 21st 1745, is also the first major battle of the last Jacobite Uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie, upon his landing in Scotland, summoned Jacobite supporters and clan leaders to help his cause of reclaiming his throne from King George II, who had usurped his father’s crown. He took Edinburgh, gained more support. What followed was the Battle of Prestonpans which took place in the fields between Prestonpans, Tranent, Cockenzie and Port Seton in East Lothian; it was over in 15 minutes. He later lead his army through to London, and although he never breached the city, his military campaign was one of the most memorable in it’s collective support of the Scottish people.

Below is a video about the battle which demonstrates how the Jacobite army defeated the Redcoats.

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust works to promote, protect and continue the legacy of the Scottish people since 2006; they do this through education, events such as exhibitions and the Trust supports research and evaluation of the battlefield. In 2010, the Trust launched the Prestonpans Tapestry which is a narrative embroidery of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s journey and includes the famous battle. Over 200 volunteers across Scotland and around the world have contributed to the stitching and it is a phenomenal collaboration of art which can be viewed on the website here.

Be sure to check out the exhibition this Autumn when it opens to learn more about our Scottish history, and the culture which came from those events.

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