Prestonpans East Lothian Scotland

Prestonpans A Small Town with A Large History

Two important battle sites, Battle of Prestonpans and Battle of Pinkie Cleuch, The sixth oldest golf course in the world, a memorial to Robert Burns and the 81 witches that were falsely accused of being witches and were burnt to death. There are many things to see in Prestonpans, the Prestongrange outdoor museum and Café which is across from part of the John Muir Way that follows the coast of East Lothian where seals can be seen in the shallows. A great place to cycle or walk with fantastic views of Edinburgh. With story boards that show how the Harbour once was. The many murals throughout the town showing the towns history of the industries soap, salt, glass, tiles, ceramics and coal mining.


From the Shore

    seals @ play Prestonpans   From Prestonpans Portobello and Arthur Seat Edinburgh

John Muir Way from Prestonpans – Cockenzie

 John Muir Way Prestonpans John Muir Way sign John Muir Way on East Coast

The Hamilton Family of Preston East Lothian

The Hamilton’s have been the land owners of Preston from circa 1380.  Circa 1620 Sir John Hamilton of Preston was granted the lands and barony of Preston and Prestonpans by King James VI.  Sir Thomas Hamilton was created Lord Binning in 1613 and later in 1627 he became the 1st Earl of Haddington. While his brother Sir John Hamilton (1565 -1644) had a house built in Preston East Lothian in 1628 which he named Hamilton House. In 1663 Preston became a free burgh with the right to hold markets. Sir William Hamilton, 1st baronet, of Preston was born in 1647 and became a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1673. Sr William Alexander first to receive the ownership of Nova Scotia in 1625. Baron The Duke of Hamilton now resides at Lennoxlove House near Haddington.

Hamilton House

Inscription (above window) reads: praise be the lord my | Strenth and my redeimer (above the door) J.H   K.S  1628 and the joint coat of arms of the Hamilton and Sympson families.

  Hamilton House front door  Above front window of Hamilton House   Above front door of Hamilton House

On the Side Wall the three windows have inscriptions J (Shield) H 16    ( J H K S intertwined) 28    K (Shield) S   the initials JH represent  Sir John Hamilton who built the house in 1628. He originally named the house Magdalens’ House, as he was Lord Magdalen and the KS is for his wife Katherine Sympson. The Shields are of the Hamiltons and Sympsons. 

 Hamilton House Window Hamilton House Window Hamilton House Window Hamilton House side wall

Northfield House Do’cot

Northfield House Doo’cot was were the owners of Northfield House would get fresh meat.  All the large houses and estates would have a Doo’cot this is a bee hive shaped Doo’cot, where Preston Tower has a Cottage shaped Doo’cot They would take the young pigeons for food as they were the most tender. The pigeons still use the Doo’cot to this day but they are not used as food.

Northfield Doo'cot

Northfield House Prestonpans 

Northfield House was built circa 1580 by George Hamilton the first owner and sold to Joseph Marjoribanks. A common stone above the door in these times were the owner’s initials and date normally called a marriage stone. In this case, the stone over the doorway with 1611 and the initials of J.M. (Joseph Marjoribanks) and M.S. (Marion Simpson) and the inscription ‘EXCEP THE LORD BVLD IN WANE BVLDS MAN’. Marjoribanks was a Burgess of Edinburgh.



The Gothenburg

The Gothenburg in Prestonpans built in 1908 still runs under the original Gothenburg Public-house system. Where the majority of the income is given to charity to benefit the community. The system was originally started in Sweden in 1855 to control the consumption of alcohol. The Gothenberg also has a memmorial to the 81 witches falsely accused of witchcraft. The Gothenburg is also home to the Prestonpans Tapestry.

 The Gothenburg  The Gothenburg sign


Prestongrange Church

Prestongrange Church A Union of Preston Church 1595 and Grange Church 1843

Prestonpans church was burnt down in 1544 and a new church was built in 1595. The present church was built in 1774 with parts of the previous Church. In the graveyard of Kirk Street in Prestonpans can be seen graves with dates from the 16th century. The tombstone below has an inscription born 1596 he died Feb 25 16 # # on the right and on the left John Hepburn.

 Prestongrange Church  Grave of John Hepburn circa 1630

Captain John Stuart

The Grave in Prestongrange Churchyard of Captain John Stuart of Phisgul Galloway. 

Here lyeth the remains of John Stuart of Phisgul, a Galloway gentleman and Cap in Lessel’s Reg’m’t, a man of true bravery who died honourably in defence of his King and country, and of civil and religious liberty, being barbarously murder’d by four Highlanders near the end of the Battle fought in the field of Preston on the 21st Sept 1745.

The Grave in Prestongrange Churchyard of Captain John Stuart of Phisgul Galloway.

Thomas Alexander CB

The Monument to Thomas Alexander CB stands in the gardens in front of Prestongrange Church on the south side of the High Street at Kirk Wynd. Thomas Alexander was born in Prestonpans in May 1812. He was an Army surgeon and took part in many campaigns and became the Director General of the Medical Department of the British Army. His main goals were to see improvements to the conditions the soldiers had to live in, especially during the Crimean war. The memorial was erected in 1862.

 Parish Church Gardens   Thomas Alexander CB

Prestonpans Totem Poles 

The Totem Pole 32 foot high, that stands across from the Gothenburg was carved from a red cedar tree from Chemainus Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada. The carvings give a pictorial story of the area and was erected in 2006 when the 6th Global Murals Conference took place in Prestonpans. Halfway up you can see the number 81 in memory of the Witches that were burnt unjustly and then pardoned in 2004. The other 3 Totem poles are caved from a log also given by Chemainus Vancouver Island British Columbia, Canada. and the mural of the Witches Trial can be seen in the play park.

 Totem Pole memorial to 81 witches that were executed  3 Totem Poles from a Canadian tree

The Prestonpans Murals

The Prestonpans murals show the history of the area and the Murals Trail starts at the Gothenburg and winds its way around the streets of Prestonpans. There are over 30 Murals to see and include John Knox, The Witches Gate, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns Tam O Shanter . There is also a number of things to see in the Burns Memorial Garden.  

 Prestonpans mural trail  Prestonpans mural trail  Prestonpans mural trail

Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail

 Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail

      Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail Prestonpans mural trail

Robert Burns Memorial Garden

25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796

 Robert Burns Bicentennial Garden

The Robert Burns Memorial Garden and Cairn that commemorates the 200th anniversary of Robert Burns death. The Tam O’Shanter mural can be found inside the Burns Gated shelter, next to the Robert Burns Memorial Cairn, in the Robert Burns memorial Garden. 

That I for poor auld | Scotland's sake | Some usefu' plan or | beuk could make | Or sing a sang | at least.   The cairn was unveiled on the 26 July 1996 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the death of the poet Robert Burns    For a' that, an' a' that, It's coming yet for a' that, That Man to Man, the world o'er, Shall brothers be for a' that.  

The inscriptions on the tablets read:

That I for poor auld | Scotland’s sake | Some usefu’ plan or | beuk could make | Or sing a sang | at least.

For a’ that, an’ a’ that, | It’s coming yet for a’ that, | That Man to Man, the world o’er, | Shall brothers be for a’ that.

The Cairn was unveiled | On the 26th July 1996 | To commemorate | The bicentenary | Of the death of the poet | Robert Burns

Robert Burns Memorial Shelter

The writing above the doorway reads  “BETTER A WEE BUSH THAN NAE BIELD”  The translation is “it is better to have some shelter than no shelter at all”.

  Front of the Bunker Inscription "BETTER A WEE BUSH THAN NAE BIELD"  The translation is "it is better to have some shelter than no shelter at all".  Robert Burns Mural Bunker  Tam O Shanter Mural in Robert Burns Bunker

Burns Garden Kinetic Sculpture

Prestonpans Robert Burns Memorial Garden Kinetic Sculpture Leslie Frank Chorley

Kinetic Sculpture Leslie Frank Chorley

Prestonpans Old Harbour

The Prestonpans Harbour first known as New Haven was built by the monks of Newbattle Abbey as a shelter to fishermen and their boats in the mid 1500s. The name changed and finally was named after the land owners Morrison. (Morrison’s Haven in Prestongrange). Situated directly across from Prestongrange Museum. 

Morrison Haven Harbour Morrison Haven Harbour Story Board

Prestongrange outdoor Museum

The Coal Mine of Prestongrange now a museum has been an important part I the history of not just Prestonpans but Dalkeith and Edinburgh. The monks from Newbattle Abbey were given the charter for the lands and started mining coal circa 1190. With many raw materials around the coast sand, kelp and clay, many industries started here which included brickwork, potteries, glass works and ceramics. The main supply of bricks to build Edinburgh’s New Town were provided from the brickwork which closed in 1975 after over 200 years of brick making. Salt was also refined here giving the name Salt Pans. The monks renamed the area Prieststown circa 1190 previously it was Althammer. seen below a carriage from the railway that transport the coal, 

   Prestongrange Museum Sign  Prestongrange Museum Train Carriage 

Cornish Beam Engine

Cornish Beam Engine installed in 1874 and continued working until 1954

  Prestongrange mining museum Prestongrange mining museum Prestongrange mining museum artifact

Prestonpans Mercat Cross

The Mercat Cross that stands in Prestonpans is the oldest remaining Mercat Cross in its original form and position in Scotland. Five Mercat Cross were built in the early 1600s all to the same design and for the same purpose, to make important civic announcements. Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross is still used for government proclamations that affected all of Scotland. An example, announcements concerning successions to the monarchy and the calling to parliament. There is an entrance to steps which bring you out at a platform where the announcements are read. The Unicorn is the ancient emblem of Scotland and stands at the top of the Mercat Cross.

Preston Mercat Cross Oldest Mercat Cross in original site

Preston Tower and Gardens

Preston Tower is no long accessible but can be seen from the beautiful well-kept gardens. The Tower was built in an L-shape in the late 1300s or early 1400s and was the home of the Hamilton’s of Preston. The area around the Tower was once called Preston. Preston Tower has had a unlucky past, the Tower has been burnt 3 times 1544, 1650 and again in 1663 and has been vacant since. In the far corner of the gardens is a do’ cot which is still in use by the local pigeons. There is also a very impressive laburnum arch and well manicured gardens.

       Preston Tower and Gardens Entrance Preston Tower and Gardens Preston Tower and Gardens 

 Preston Tower Do'Cot  Preston Tower Gardens Laburnum Arch

Prestonpans Town Hall

The Town Hall opened in 1897 and above the main door can be seen the Prestonpans burgh crest, with the Mercat Cross in the centre, also reliefs of local industries. These included crossed anchor, mining pick and salt shovel, with a sheaf of barley with crossed sickles. Donating Salt panning, Mining, Fishing and Agriculture.

      Prestonpans Town Hall Lintel

The Shrine

The memorial on the same road to the Prestonpans Battle site is the Shrine, not far from the cairn for the Battle of Prestonpans. The sculpture is of two miners digging for coal in a mine shaft and was created by a local stonemason Gardner. Coal mining was a major industry in the area from circa 1200 to 1964 when the East Lothian mines were closed (Meadowmill and Bellyford).

  The Shrine Prestonpans The Shrine Prestonpans The Shrine Prestonpans

Prestonpans War Memorial

The memorial of a soldier in the Royal Scots uniform was unveiled in April 1922. The memorial is dedicated to the fallen in World War I and World War II.  There is also a bronze plaque Dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in the defence of democracy in Spain between 1936 -1939 with a quote from Byron “they never fail who die in a great cause.” A simple inscription on the memorial reads; “To the glorious memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives for their country 1914-1918, 1939-1945”

The Royal Scots war memorial Prestonpans

Spanish Civil War Memorial

The bronze plaque beside Prestonpans War Memorial in High Street Prestonpans reads; ‘Dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in the defence of democracy. Spain 1936 -1939.’ It also includes a quote from the poet Byron: “They never fail who die in a great cause.”  3 men from Prestonpans fought in in the Spanish Civil War one of whom John Gilmour was unfortunately killed in Feb 1937

Spanish Civil War plaque

Athena Sculpture

This is one of many sculptures by Andy Scott the sculptor who created the world famous Kelpies in the Helix Park in Grangemouth

Athena Sculpture Goddess of Knowledge by Andy Scott

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club play for the Old Club Cup first won in 1774 by Thomas McMillan, which make it the oldest golf club trophy still competitively played for in the world to this day. A golf club was formed in 1760 by a group of local enthusiasts and played over the old Musselburgh course. Royal Musselburgh Golf Club had their first club house at  9 Links Place, now, 9 Balcarres Road Musselburgh. Prestongrange House has a long history and a building has been on the site since circa 1185 when it was known as Newbattle Grange. The Present building has been renovated and extended through 5 centuries and became the home to the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club in 1926.

Royal Musselburgh Golf Club

The North British Railway Tavern

The North British Railway Tavern was first a dwelling House, an asylum, a soldiers barracks, built 1628 possibly one of the oldest buildings in Prestonpans.  

North British Railway Tavern

Prestonpans Tapestry 

The Prestonpans Tapestry has 104 tapestry panels that tell the journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite army against the mighty army of the English in 1745, the final Jacobite uprising.  The tapestry was first viewed in July 2010 and has been on show across the UK and in France. The Tapestry was designed by Andrew Crummy and was created by Dorie Wilkie and a small core team plus over 200 crafts people. This is a historic document that should be on show all year round and not put in a cupboard to rot.



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