Dedication of Memorial Tables for Clans who Fought in the Battle of Prestonpans

In September I attended the Dedication of the Memorial Tables for Clans and British Regiments who fought in the Battle of Prestonpans. My father, Colin MacDonald, who is a member of the Committee of High Patronage of The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust, received an invitation to attend the ceremony as representor of the Glencoe MacDonalds. Unfortunately, it was not possible for him to do so and I attended on his behalf. Clan Donald Canterbury member, Brent Tomlinson was also on holiday in the UK at this time and was able to attend.

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict in the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The Battle took place early morning on 21st September 1745. The Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stuart achieved a stunning victory over the government army led by Sir John Cope. The government force was between 2,200 to 2,800 strong while the Jacobite army numbered between 2000 and 2,500.

The inexperienced government troops were outflanked and broke in the face of a highland charge. The battle was over in less than 15 minutes. The victory was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites. Hundreds of government troops were killed or wounded and 1500 taken prisoner. Only 170 escaped. The Jacobite Army suffered fewer than 100 troops killed or wounded.

The MacDonald Clans played a major role in this battle, making up nearly half the Jacobite force.

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust was established in 2006 to ensure a much better presentation and opportunity for visitors to gain a comprehensive understanding of the battle.

The Trust has campaigned since 2006 for a proper memorial which lists the Clans and Regiments that were involved. They recently received a grant to create two Memorial Tables, one for each side in the combat.

Last year The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust put out the Call to all those Clans which fought with the Prince at Prestonpans and to the “Successor” Regiments of those engaged there in support of the government in 1745 serving the British Army today to share in the Dedication.

The Dedication was held on 15th September 2018. The events included a Grand Parade, the commemoration ceremony, living history camps, military displays and a spectacular battle re-enactment. The Memorial Tables are located on the old wagonway which ran across the battlefield. The Tables are very impressive and provide a fitting memorial to those involved in the battle.

I was also impressed by the quality of the re-enactors who strive to be as accurate and authentic in appearance as possible. This includes those not directly involved in the battle re-enactment but who were present in a support role. The strict adherence to the period with the provision of props such as tents, furniture, cooking facilities etc added to the level of realism achieved.

The Grand Parade passed through the town of Prestonpans to the Sports Centre where the re-enactment events were held.

The Memorial Table to the Clans who took part in the battle. Alan MacDonald and Brent Tomlinson on the far right.

Alan MacDonald pictured with Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Clan Donald Canterbury member, Brent Tomlinson with one of the re-enactors.

Re-enactors prepare their meal before the battle re-enactment later in the day.

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s War Council.

Bonnie Prince Charlie plans for the battle over lunch.

The government forces prepare for battle.

The government forces fire a fusillade from their muskets.

The Clans prepare to charge.

The Highland charge.

Victory is quickly achieved.

For more information visit the Trust’s very good website:

Article courtesy of Alan MacDonald, High Commissioner for Clan Donald in New Zealand