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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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doubt he was stimulated to the work by the expected visit of
King James the following year to his old kingdom.
In 1616 thus Sir John Hamilton petitioned the Lords of Council: " That altho the Lords have taken great course for enlarging and mending all highways and passages throu which his Majesty will pass on his approaching visit to Scotland, there is a very eminent and open place oversine, to wit, the high gait throu the town of Preston which is so broken after a small rayne and weit as hardlie is passible.
" Now it is quite a schame that the common streit of a throu fairing toune so neir to the burgh of Edinburgh sail not be mendit; and unless it is mendit in tyme, and a good calsay made throu the same, it will be a grit discredit quhan that the strangers that accompanie his Majesty sail sie the same. "
Sir John seems to have been a bit of a diplomatist. See how he in the first place tries to shame the Lords of Council into mending the roadway through Preston, even before his own tower, " lest the strangers with his Majesty should observe its poverty strickeness. " Perhaps it lay outside their province to repair the village street. This he would know, but he does not give them a moment's time for reflection, for with the very next breath he holds them up with a request "that they should grant him permission to levy and uplift a duty for the purpose of repairing the roadway, " and this permission they granted.
The time limit was for three years and to this effect, " that he should levy a duty of 2d. on any 'horse-load ' of whatever goods should pass through the village, 4d. on every 'cart-load, ' 2d. on every 'ox or cow, ' and 4d. on every 'ten sheep' that should pass that way. " But an exception was made on all green wood that was conveyed through the town, on horse or cart, for use at Salt Preston.
From ecclesiastical history we learn that George Hamilton of Preston, like his father David, was a staunch Reformer. Further, that David Hamilton, though one of the most active Reformers, was a sterling supporter otherwise of Queen Mary. Perhaps it was owing to this impartiality of David Hamilton that negotiations between the queen and the Catholic party on the one hand, and her Protestant subjects on the other, were held in 1559, during the Reformation period, at the village of Preston.
"Negotiations, " says the MS. State Papers, "were now entered into by commissioners from both sides, who assembled at Preston, in Midlothian (? Eastlothian). These negotiations resulted in no arrangement, as the principal condition proposed by the Regent, that wherever her residence was fixed, the Protestants should refrain from preaching, was evidently one which could not be accepted. "
In 1617, during the reign of James VI. and through the influence of Sir John Hamilton, Preston and Prestongrange became burghs of barony. A dribbling burnie which flows down on the west side of Bankton House, crosses the North British line where Milligan's Mains was wont to stand, seeks its way through Preston gardens, a few yards west of the ancient tower, and finds its way across the streets of Prestonpans a short distance east of Ayre's Wynd into the Firth of Forth, still shows the divisional boundary of the ancient baronies of Preston and Prestongrange.
Wygtrig Hill is mentioned in one of the earliest charters relating to Tranent. It is now pronounced Wygrie or Wygtrie. The lands cover several fields; but it is the hill we have meantime in view.
Wygtrig Hill may best be described as a great high natural mound, lying about equi-distant between the farm steadings of Bankton on the east and Dolphinstone on the west. It overlooks the village of Preston towards the north, while at its very base, on the south side, lies Bankton Bog. There is a little historical interest attached to this bog, as it happens to form the western extremity of the great "Tranent or Winton Peaterie, " mentioned in one of the state charters of the twelfth century. Barely half a century ago this bog had never felt plough or harrow. Many a time we have approached it lying in all its primeval beauty, burdened with saugh-wands, brambles, and rushes.
Facing Bankhead House, on the south, right over Wygtrig Hill, runs an old stone dyke, and in this dyke, a little distance down, may be found the very curious memorial stone shown elsewhere.
What may be termed its base or foundation stone, almost on a level with the soil, is rounded at the corners, and has the appearance of a heavy doorstep. Directly above the foundation lies another stone, a little over four feet in length, and about eight inches thick, reminding us of a sculptured window lintel, but lying in a reversed position; it is of light sandstone. Directly over this again, and in the centre of it,
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