Recently I have been travelling quite frequently up and down the A1 from Edinburgh to Dunbar, mainly to visit Eric Brown.
I had always wondered what the prominent hill with the flag on it just off the road a few miles east of Edinburgh was. A few weeks ago detouring into Prestonpans on the return I found out. Coincidentally I was reading Violet Jacobs’s Flemington at the time.
On the B 1361 into Prestonpans there was a sign pointing to the Battlefield of Prestonpans, 1745, the first battle of the Jacobite Rebellion of that year. I had previously thought the battlefield would lie somewhat closer to the Firth.
The prominent hill is the battlefield viewpoint, a converted coal bing, seen here from its foot.
The flag flying at the summit is Bonnie Prince Charlie’s battle standard.
There is a cairn at the side of the B 1361 erected in memory of the dead of the battle:-
According to the information boards on the Battlefield Viewpoint this is the site of the 1745 battle:-
This is the approximate Jacobite position at the battle’s start. It has a golf range on it now.
The battle itself was over in about fifteen minutes. Most of the relatively inexperienced Hanoverian force fled at the first charge of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highlanders. This left the more hardened government troops sandwiched between the rebel wings. After suffering heavy casualties they gave way. Their commander Sir John Cope led some stragglers down a lane which to this day is named Johnnie Cope’s Road, but couldn’t get them to fight and left the field.
The song Hey Johnnie Cope Are Ye Wakin’ Yet? was written – by Adam Skirving, a namesake of the good lady – to commemorate the Jacobite victory.
This version, by the Corries, is preceded by an account of the first singing of the fourth verse of the UK National Anthem – the one which is no longer officially recognised.