Biggest ever living history event to mark Battle of Prestonpans

This September will see the biggest ever living history event to mark the Battle of Prestonpans in East Lothian, as part of a packed weekend of historical events.

The Battle of Prestonpans Re-enactment, supported by EventScotland part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate and East Lothian Council, will take place across two days in September as part of the annual East Lothian Battle Weekend and will include a series of dramatic re-enactments including a recreation of the Raising of the Standard; General Cope’s War Council at which the redcoat officers plan their strategy; a Cavalry Display with the chance to find out more about the horsemen of the battle; Redcoat Manoeuvres as General Cope puts his soldiers through their paces; Prince Charlie’s War Council; and ultimately, the spectacular reenactment of The Battle of Prestonpans. The event is supporting Scotland’s Year of Young People, so there will be children’s crafts and even a chance for youngsters to train as Junior Jacobites and try out a Highland Charge.

Between the military action, visitors will be able to explore the Jacobite and Hanoverian camps and talk to the re-enactors, who will remain in character throughout.  Providing a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of this period, visitors will be able to handle historic weapons, witness camp life as the camp followers cook and launder, enter the Royal Enclosure to meet Bonnie Prince Charlie himself and even see an 18th century printing press in action.

Alongside the historical drama, a new area will allow visitors to the event to browse craft and historical stalls, experience falconry and sample local food and drink including locally brewed beers from Prestoungrange Gothenburg, 'Fowlers' Brewery and from Archerfield Brewery.  People of all ages will enjoy replaying the battle on the war-games table and watching the pipe band displays.  With two history book launches taking place at the event, talks from the authors and stalls from participating clans, this is a standout event for history-lovers and families alike.

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 Francis Edward Stuart and led by his son Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) achieved a dramatic victory over the Redcoat army loyal to the Hanoverian King George II, led by Sir John Cope. The battle took place in fields between Prestonpans, Tranent, Cockenzie and Port Seton. The victory was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites, and despite their ultimate defeat the battle left an important cultural legacy. . This is the tenth time that the Battle of Prestonpans has been re-enacted this century.

Arran Johnston, Executive Trustee of The Scottish Battlefield Trust said:

“This year’s East Lothian Battlefield Weekend marks a significant expansion in activity and I’m delighted to be able to present this expanded programme. These events will appeal to young and old alike with the opportunity for everyone to learn more about this fascinating period of history. The history and heritage of this region is strikingly dramatic and of national significance.  It’s through events like these that people come to understand this and in turn, calls are made to protect national assets, like the battlefields of the region.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the East Lothian Battlefield Weekend: The Battle of Prestonpans, through our National Events Programme. The event is a wonderful exploration of the region and Scotland’s rich history, which will no doubt capture the imagination of both locals and visitors alike. In Scotland’s Year of Young People, it is also exciting to see Junior Jacobites joining the ranks for a Highland charge, as part of the wide-ranging programme.”

Tickets to the Battle of Prestonpans Re-enactment cost:

Early admissions: 11.00am - 12 noon - £3 adults / £1.50 children

Regular Admissions: 12 noon - 17.00 - £6 adults / £3 children

The Battle of Prestonpans Re-Enactment is part of the East Lothian Battle Weekend with other events including:

Prestonpans Memorial Parade

Saturday 15 September, Meadowmill to Greenhills, Prestonpans. Free of charge

A unique procession to mark newly created memorials to those who fought and fell at the Battle of Prestonpans will take place in Prestonpans before the re-enactment event.  The procession will include members of clans that fought for the Jacobite cause in the 1745 battle alongside members of the British army, representing their opponents, and school children with specially created banners. The procession will progress through the streets of Prestonpans taking in some of the town’s streets that have been named after those who fought in the battle. This event is supported by the Scottish Clan Event Fund.

Prestonpans One-To-One: Paper Soldiers Exhibition

Saturday 8 September - Sunday 23 September, Prestoungrange Gothenburg, 227 High St, Prestonpans. Free of charge

A striking and unique display of over 5,000 miniature paper model soldiers created by artist, Peter Dennis, will show the Battle of Prestonpans as it’s never been seen before. Every soldier of every company, every clan and every regiment, will be hand crafted to create a unique 1:1 ratio model of the rival armies at Prestonpans. Also on display will be dramatic paintings of the battle by Andrew Hillhouse.

The Prestonpans Tapestry

Saturday 1 September - Sunday 23 September, Cockenzie House, 22 Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie. Suggested donation £3

See the story of the Battle of Prestonpans campaign in 105 metres of beautiful embroidery, designed by local artist, Andrew Crummy and stitched by hundreds of volunteers from across Scotland.  This is the tapestry’s only full exhibition of 2018.

For more information on the Battle of Prestonpans Re-enactment event and East Lothian Battle Weekend visit

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