Battle of Prestonpans site changes

A team of archaeologists led by Dr. Tony Pollard from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology (Guard) have concluded in a report that the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans probably took place 1/2 km further east than what was initially believed.

It is now thought, after extensive work, that the main battlefield was actually closer towards Port Seton, rather than just south of where the Cockenzie Power Station now sits, despite the records given by eyewitnesses.

The battle was a very bloody clash between Jacobite forces and Government troops which is said to have only lasted 15 minutes, and was a decisive win for the Jacobean army.

“The project’s findings are very exciting indeed and really challenge our assumptions of where the battle took place,” said Dr. Pollard.
He added, “The amount of musket balls, grape shot and pistol balls found in the fields of Seton East Farm show, beyond reasonable doubt, that the maps we have relied on in the past were wrong.

“Although this was a very well documented battle, with lots of eye-witness accounts, it was also very brutal and over quite quickly. It now seems that in the excitement some of the witnesses got it wrong.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust commissioned the report in a bid to safeguard the site and create an information centre. The land where the battle is now thought to have been fought is owned by local farmer Alistair Robertson, and he helped the archaeological team with surveying the land with metal detectors.

Mr. Robertson said that “it is exciting to think that it was across our fields that the famous Highland charge took place and here that the main part of the battle was fought.

“It certainly helps bring history to life and I would be more than happy to see further studies in the future to see what else can be uncovered.”


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