As part of my coursework, I looked into the ongoing issue surrounding the battle site at Prestonpans. During the last three years, the community have been involved in a number of disputes within itself regarding whether or not to continue protecting the battle site or allow it to be built over.
Part of this is a moot point as the battle site has already been built upon partially; a sportsfield and sports centre are built on one part. A major road runs through the middle of the battle site and what is left is now disputed land.
Part of the community under the leadership of the community council wish to put commerce and industry first and continue to build over what is left, stating that “No one was interested in the battle site”. This was met with complaints and a campaign by parts of the local community to protect the battle site so that history can be protected for future generations. Whilst this campaign has had limited success in preventing the destruction of local history, it was met with a lukewarm reception by the wider community. Only when the battle was featured as part of the television series “Outlander” that wider recognition of the battle and its place in history was highlighted to a wider audience.
This success, however, is now being overridden by the needs of the county council who are starting to build a new town on part of the battle site. The loss of the locale is being highlighted by local historian Arran Johnston who has said that the loss of historical evidence presented by the landscape is “like knocking down a castle”
Johnston points out the landscape changes in Wallyford, where the original battle site for the Battle of Pinkie has been completely lost due to a recent housing development which has been built over the battle site. This loss of an important piece of the landscape means that any living history of the area is no longer relevant, as it can no longer be referenced.
Personally, this saddens me, part of this course has ignited a passion for capturing the local landscape within the concept of its living links to history; to see and hear that the landscape which has remained static for so long is now undergoing a destructive change at the had of mankind. When the landscape is gone, we lose a part of the history and links to the past.
Sharp, M. (2016). Row brews over draft plans to build over historic battlefield. [online] East Lothian Courier. Available at: https://www.eastlothiancourier.com/news/14537253.row-brews-over-draft-plans-to-build-over-historic-battlefield/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].
Smith, M. (2019). ‘It’s like knocking down a castle’: The fight to save Scotland’s battlefields. [online] HeraldScotland. Available at: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18063696.its-like-knocking-castle-fight-save-scotlands-battlefields/?fbclid=IwAR2ss32osxTETUAjHfRjx3qZgvAkgjhSzsrCTvLnuDLXkNZDpinKeydcWy4 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2019].