• Kaitlyn Chatwood

Prestonpans battle re-enactment weekend

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

For those who are interested in learning more about Scottish history and the cultural legacy it has brought will be excited for the variety of events and exhibitions this September, including the re-enactment of the battle this weekend, surrounding the legendary Battle of Prestonpans. Presented by the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) heritage trust and funded by Event Scotland, there is a fantastic opportunity for everyone of all ages to learn something new and have fun.

The Battle of Prestonpans took place September 21st 1745 and was the first major battle of the last Jacobite Uprising. Bonnie Prince Charlie led a major battle with his fellow Jacobite supporters to take back the Scottish crown from King George II. The renowned battle took place in the fields between Prestonpans, Tranent, Cockenzie and Port Seton and was over less than an hour. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s military campaign was one of the most memorable in its collective support of Scottish people.

To commemorate this historical event, the heritage trust have created an eclectic round up of events for everyone. There will be the usual workshops, exhibitions as well as a largescale re-enactment.

These events and exhibitions include:

“Hey Johnnie Cope!”

An exhibition at the John Gray exhibition Centre, Haddington.

7 August – 30 October.

Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm

Free entry.

The carefully curated exhibition includes a variety of art pieces from 18th century artefacts to Victorian engravings to 21st century paintings, as well as a copy of the script from the 1948 film, Bonnie Prince Charlie, which starred David Niven. Two remnants of the famous thorn tree, under which British army officer and local resident Colonel James Gardener was mortally wounded, will be on display; reunited for the first time. Dolina Maclennan - singer, actress, writer, broadcaster and campaigner - will be there with Gaelic cultural workshops for poetry and song. This exhibition is a family-friendly affair and educational affair which will take you on a journey through the history of the Battle of Prestonpans.

Prestonpans Re-Enactment Weekend

Greenhills, Prestonpans

18 – 19 September

11am – 5pm

Adults: £5, Children: £3

With re-enactors in full period dress, visitors will have the opportunity to witness history with their own eyes. As well as the re-enactment itself, there are various other educational entertainments including living history cameos. These cameos consist of the Prince Charlie’s review of the Jacobite army, a cavalry display, Redcoat manoeuvres and two commanders as they hold their War Councils. There will be a brand-new cannon demonstration to show the impact of artillery on clansmen as they do the highland charge.

Throughout the military action of the battle, there are two immersive military camps where visitors and children can speak to re-enactors to find out about life in general in 1745. You might be able to approach and meet Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. To entertain the young ones, there will be children’s crafts or they can train as Junior Jacobites and try a Highland Charge. Check out: https://www.battleofprestonpans1745.org/re-enactment-weekend/

Anniversary Commemoration

Prestonpans Battlefield

21 September


To commemorate the day of the battle itself, the heritage trust has arranged for wreaths to be laid at the Memorial tables on the battlefield. They will commemorate those who fell on both sides of the conflict. The service will also be live-streamed on the Trust’s facebook page (@Prestonpans1745)

Jacobite History Conference

Prestonpans Town Hall

Saturday 23rd October

This October, the heritage trust will team up with the Military history publisher Helion & Company to host a conference around Jacobite history. Speakers include Jenn Scott, Jonathan Oates and Arran Johnston to discuss both sides of the conflict and place the Rising within wider European Events.

For more information click here.

Dr. Arran Johnston of the Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust said: “We’re looking forward to bringing this living history event and series of activities and exhibitions back to Prestonpans this year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to reveal to local people and visitors alike the significance of this major battle and the way it continues to influence culture to this day. These events are stand-outs for everyone from history lovers to children of all ages.”

EventScotland has helped to fund these exhibitions for people around the world to enjoy with Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund while the Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust, a registered charity, has created and organised the programme.

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the Battle of Prestonpans through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund. The programme of activity offers audiences an authentic and engaging experience while marking the historic and cultural legacy of one of the UK’s most significant Jacobite battles. Scotland is the perfect stage for events and supporting events, including the Battle of Prestonpans, is crucial in our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Guided battlefield tours are set to return this autumn, alongside a series of talks which follows the success of the Trust’s Lockdown Initiatives. All events will be in line with current Scottish Government Covid-19 regulations.