II: Founder's Walk and Laying the Wreaths: September 21st
Peter MacKenzie Walks Again - as he does every year on September 21st
The present pattern of commitment to ensuring a proper conservation/ interpretation/ presentation of the battle of Prestonpans hereabouts stems from the initiative taken in 2000 - that's a decade ago - by one Peter MacKenzie, Founder Walker! He's kept the anniversary ever since and at 5pm on Tuesday he departed once again from Birslie Brae, from where the Prince first gazed down on Cope's army encamped at Prestonpans on September 20th.
Then to Tranent Churchyard, the Waggonway and Gardiner's Obelisk at Bankton House
Having established at that first glimpse that a charge downhill was out of the question because of the marshy broken ground, the Prince resolved to proceed under cover of darkness through the Riggonhead Defile to arrive just west of old Seton village. But not before the Cameron's had drawn musket and cannon fire from the redcoats at Tranent churchyard and taken their first casualties.
The Highlanders arrived as dawn broke on the plain below Tranent and alerted the redcoat pickets. Cope wheeled his infantry to face the Highlanders but their charge across the Waggonway was so swift that they had time only to fire their muskets and cannons just once before the Highlanders were upon them. Terrified at the onslaught the redcoat lines crumbled and fled whilst the dragoons never entered the fray at all, fleeing up Johnnie Cope's Way to Birslie Brae and thence post haste to Berwick-opon-Tweed.
The two great novels Waverley & Kidnapped both drew their inspiration from the battle
As is his annual wont Peter MacKenzie's interpreted Walk concluded at Gardiner's Obelisk standing to the north of Bankton House. Gardiner's immortal role, in his own back yard, is remembered but more than that the legacy of Scottish literature, poetry and song that arose from the battle was also highlighted. As Peter MacKenzie tells it, these two great authors each took one fictitious and one true to life character for their plots to turn their coats from Hanoverian supporter to Stuart supporter, to supporters of James VIII and III, Bonnie Prince Charlies's father. One of those turncoats was of course Alan Breck, after whom our own Prestonpans Volunteer Regiment of re-enactors is named.
Wreaths were laid in remembrance of all who died so long ago
At the Memorial Cairn, erected in 1932 on top road in The Pans and at Gardiner's obelisk erected in 1859, wreaths were laid to remember the so many who were killed on both sides of the battle. For Gardiner the roses were plain red; at the cairn white and red were mingled together.
Published Date: September 22nd 2010