Jacobite battle to be remembered in two Lothian exhibitions

Two exhibitions are to open in East Lothian this summer marking a major Jacobite battle that took place in Prestonpans in 1745.

By Liberty Phelan
Monday, 21st June 2021, 4:55 am
The exhibitions are to take place this summer. Picture: Chris Watt
The exhibitions are to take place this summer. Picture: Chris Watt

The Orders of Battle Exhibition will be displayed at Prestonpans Town Hall over the weekend of June 26/27.

This temporary exhibition explores the types of soldiers who fought for and against Bonnie Prince Charlie at his famous victory.

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A spectacle of 5,000 paper soldiers will be formed up for battle while costumed volunteers will help explain clothing and equipment used.

A further exhibition at the John Gray Centre in Haddington will take place from August 7 to October 29, marking the cultural legacy of the battle.

This will include 21st century paintings, Jacobite songbooks and even a copy of the script of the 1948 film, Bonnie Prince Charlie, starring David Niven.

Two separate remnants of the famous thorn tree, under which officer and local resident Colonel James Gardiner was mortally wounded during the battle, will be reunited and displayed together for the first time. Two supporting Gaelic cultural workshops with poetry and song will be convened by singer and actress Dolina Maclennan.

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first major battle of the last Jacobite Rising. The battle took place on September 21, 1745. The Jacobite army, loyal to King James and led by his son Charles, achieved a dramatic victory over the Redcoat army loyal to George II. The battle took place in fields in East Lothian and the victory was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites. Despite their ultimate defeat the following year, the battle left an important cultural legacy.

Visitors to the Prestonpans Town Hall exhibition will also be able to see the early progress of the historic building’s refurbishment. The 125 Years of Memories project will collect and record community memories and use them to inspire the creation of a new artwork in the building.

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust’s events to mark the 275th anniversary in 2020 were originally presented digitally, but are now re-scheduled to take place face-to-face across 2021 with a major re-enactment of the battle set to be the climax of a programme on September 18/19.

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