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East Lothian Images Online
From here you can access thousands of images from across the collection.
Perhaps you’re looking for an old school photograph or a street where you lived? Perhaps you want to see if we have an image of an ancestor or a building that no longer exists?
Click on a place name to see the pictures we have or take a look at our tips for searching for a more advanced search.
Please get in touch if you have any questions, spot any errors or if you can supply us with more information on an image.
This is only a small percentage of the photographs we hold and our fabulous volunteers are busy digitising more. Remember to check back regularly for updates.
The main part of our image holdings are what we call the parishes collections (above). In most cases images come to us as single images or in small batches and they are added to the relevant parish. In some cases larger collections come to us and are kept as a discreet collections. This means that not every image we hold for North Berwick for example will be under the North Berwick parish collection so it is worth searching across all the image collections.
Adam Latto Collection
Adam Latto was a collector and antiquarian bookseller based in Musselburgh. The Council acquired his collection some years ago and it is extensive featuring images, documents and even a morning roll!
Although primarily related to Musselburgh it does contains images from elsewhere across the County and further afield.
Preston Lodge High School
We are working with Preston Lodge to digitise and make available their vast collection of school images.
The collection goes beyond the usual school photos showing pupils and teachers at work and play.
To learn more about the project and access the collection, click here
East Lothian Museums Collection
East Lothian Museums Service traditionally hold a large number of photographs. These images are currently on long term loan with the archive service at the John Gray Centre and have been digitised by our volunteers.
This is a rich collection showcasing the past 150 years in the County from outdoor pools to buildings long gone. View the collection here
Education in East Lothian – origins
When we look at education in East Lothian today, with a range of primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions spread over the county, we are looking at the result of a millennium of progress. Very little research has been done on the origins of our schools but we have good holdings in the archives from the Victorian period onwards – the theme of an exhibition during 2015. Our reference collection helps throw some light on the earlier period. We know that (amongst other examples):
- Medieval East Lothian had a high concentration of wealthy magnates whose households often included a chaplain, whose duties included preparing younger sons for the Church and ensuring that lay administrators (bailies and stewards) had the skills needed.
- Dunbar Church was made collegiate by the earls of Dunbar in 1342. Collegiate churches had a college of ordained priests and to support them they elsewhere accumulated choir schools and grammar schools; there is little evidence, but Dunbar and the other East Lothian collegiate churches that followed are assumed to have offered some kind of education to a select few.
- In 1378 the King’s Chamberlain made a payment to the master of the schools in Haddington. Two years later a further payment was directed to the support of a certain poor scholar, so education extended to more than just the wealthy.
- Walter Bower (or Bowmaker) (fl. 1380s), Abbot of Incholm, and his near contemporary Andrew (De) Wyntoun, Prior of Lochleven (fl. 1420s), the theologian John Major (b. c. 1446) and the poet William Dunbar (b. c. 1460) are all generally understood to have received their early education at Haddington.
- John Knox held a position as tutor to the children of the laird of Longniddry in the 1540s; Knox himself is held to be another eminent graduate of ‘Haddington school’.
- One of the prime intentions of the reformers was to institute a school in every parish. Although this was a slow process in parts of Scotland, it seems to have progressed rapidly in the Lothians. Several reformed ministers are known to have also been appointed with responsibility for running schools.
- Immediately after the Reformation (the 1560s), Haddington, Dunbar, Spott and Prestonpans had schoolmasters of some skill and eminence – they have been written about and some of them published books and educational texts.
- Haddington burgh records record the appointment of schoolmasters from 1559 – on the 6th October of that year Mr Robert Dormont to be skoillmaster of the burgh. By 1582 the institution was being referred to as the grammar school and a fair account of it’s progress can be given from around this time.
- By the 1590s evidence exists to show that aspirant schoolmasters were expected to undergo tests before appointment: to try Andro Dischington, schoolmaster of Dunbar, not only in his ability to travell in the ministry, but also to teache ane grammar schule.
- Endowments of the 16th – 19th centuries provided bursaries to scholars or, in some instances, established institutions such as Schaw’s Hospital (later the Murray Institute) in Prestonpans.
- In 1768 the county gained its first, formal tertiary college. Hitherto aspirants for further education had to leave the county. When John Brown, associate presbytery minister in Haddington, was appointed to his church’s professorship, the students came to him. Brown was concerned with Divinity, but also worked to bring his varied students up to a common standard.
- Industrial developments needed trained staff: Mrs Fall of Dunbar opened a ‘weaving school’ for girls and a generation later Haddington and Dunbar had Schools of Arts (also known as Mechanics Institutes). Miner’s Institutes appeared later in the west of the county.
- By 1842, 15 out of 27 parochial schools formally examined in the Presbyteries of Dunbar and Haddington were entitle(d) to be ranked as first class.
So, at one time, an education could be had in the households of wealthy East Lothian magnates from early times, where chaplains were on the establishment. At the same time, formal schools were an essential part of the religious network in East Lothian. Choir schools provided trained singers to support the saying of masses in the collegiate churches instituted in the 14th century (a choir school was reopened in Haddington during 1583 – post Reformation!). Then, grammar schools provided the first step in selecting recruits to the clergy, providing a grounding in the classics.
The Reformation saw the first attempt at providing universal education as burgh and parochial schools were created. In both the Church kept a substantial interest, but in the former the burgh councils had increasing responsibility. Donations provided support for some scholars and higher learning could be had by extra payments to the schoolmasters. Increasingly, supported schools: ‘hospitals’, institutes, penny schools and charitable schools appeared to supplement (mainly) burgh schools and parochial schools. Specialist training was attempted to support industrial initiatives and Schools of Arts supplied eclectic courses (depending on the availability of expert lecturers). Samuel Smiles (who was born in a building now part of the John Gray Centre) recalled Haddington School of Arts as
an excellent institution … well attended by the leading mechanics of the town. Also in the 19th century, moves were made to bring all of the parochial and burgh schools up to standard – of both accommodation and staff. Education Acts flowed through the century, one superseding another. Under the Acts, education became increasingly a part of the County Council’s evolving remit: the East Lothian Education Committee supervised, and their papers form part of the Archive at the John Gray Centre. And that brings us nicely back to the Exhibition: Best Days of Your Life?
Further Reading (all available in the Local History Collection; quotes in italics above have been extracted form the works below or via the links indicated)
History of Dunbar, James Miller
The Lamp of Lothian, James Miller
Life of John Knox, Thomas McCrie
John Brown of Haddington, Robert Mackenzie
Autobiography, Samuel Smiles
Haddington, History of a Royal Burgh, Gerald Urwin
The Napoleonic Navy and East Lothian
A page to mark the Bi-centenary of The Battle of Waterloo and to record the service of East Lothian men in the wars against Napoleonic France. This page focuses on the Napoleonic Navy – ‘England’s’ ‘Wooden Walls’.
It has been argued that Britain’s domination of the sea made possible many of the military successes of the British Army in Europe and in other theatres of war. But the Navy, as much as the Army, was a ravenous devourer of manpower. Volunteers for the harsh, unforgiving conditions experienced by Nelson’s Navy were never sufficient. East Lothian’s strong maritime tradition meant that there was available a pool of manpower trained to the sea. And so, as the Navy expanded, East Lothian men served everywhere. They served in positions from high to low and although many were there through choice, many others were Pressed. The naval authorities in Leith were active throughout the war in securing hands from merchant vessels off East Lothian’s coast and from coastal communities. This was such a matter-of-fact feature of day to day life it passed almost unnoticed in contemporary accounts.
‘It was curious,’ says a spectator, ‘to behold the fishermen from all quarters, ready to assist the crew, while at the same time they were in a tremor regarding the press-gang, who lay like tigers in ambuscade to snatch their prey.’ Such was the state of free-brn Britons at this time. (James Miller, History of Dunbar)
One such mention (above) was recorded at the first service of Dunbar Lifeboat. In October 1808 she went to the rescue of an embayed, dismasted Royal Navy sloop, the Cygnet. The Dunbar men seem to have had no hesitation about turning out – but it was noted at the time that the crew Leith boat could not be found ‘for fear of the Press’ (and it in fact started out to Dunbar, manned instead by the Press themselves).
En passant, another service of the same lifeboat was in December 1810: two Navy frigates came ashore to the east of Dunbar. Both had been patrolling off the coasts of Norway and Denmark and mistook their seamarks during a stormy night. Again, the Dunbar lifeboat turned out and this time saved around 50 men from the wreck of the Pallas. The loss of two frigates on one night was a commonplace for the Navy during the period, even without taking the great fleet actions into account.
As Waterloo was the culmination of a campaign that secured a final land victory for Britain and its allies against Napoleonic France, so too was Trafalgar the most significant fleet action of the period. From this victory, 10 years before Waterloo, Britain and her allies achieved such mastery of the seas that land forces could be delivered and supplied anywhere. We’ll never know just how many men from East Lothian served in the navy during the Napoleonic Period: when it comes to detail it’s hard to even name the names of those that served. But the Battle of Trafalgar was commemorated by the National Archives at the time of its 200th anniversary (and before the John Gray Centre opened). This page records some of the East Lothian men present then.
Needless to say, the Napoleonic Wars disrupted much of East Lothian’s maritime trade. Convoys were instituted, slowing commerce, but preventing even greater losses to Continental privateers that roamed the coast. As a counterbalance, the signal stations that were instituted to relay messages between naval bases and watch the coast were almost by-the-by responsible for saving many lives as they spotted many ships in danger. Miller notes stations at Dunbar Battery, ‘Garleton-hill’ (sic) and North-Berwick Law. There are some remains from the period at the latter.
The collapse of France after Waterloo caused significant stress in coastal communities as the Navy downsized. The manpower that had sustained the world’s largest fleet was thrown ashore. Some, those that had sailed with successful captains, were able to open inns or return to their trade. Some others could find berths on merchant ships or returned to fishing. But many were never able to take up their previous employment and as depression succeeded the boom of the war years, great hardship was experienced by many maritime communities. Little is known of what the East Lothian coastal communities went through* – the details have yet to be unearthed: perhaps you could help?
* For example, Miller notes (that in 1820, during the Bonnymuir Rising):
‘During these commotions, the East Lothian Yeomanry, under Sir James Gardiner Baird, having been ordered to Edinburgh, while the Berwickshire came to Haddington, the thanks of the city were conveyed to the former by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh (John Manderston) to the Earl of Haddington’
But there is no explanation as to local sentiment, or the necessity for deploying troops in East Lothian.
Brick and Tile making in East Lothian
With an abundance of easily worked stone, East Lothian came late to the mass production of bricks and tiles.
Of course, some had always been made on a small scale but as the agricultural revolution took hold the county’s abundant deposits of clay were exploited for drainage tiles (pipes) and roofing pantiles. Drainage was essential over much of East Lothian and most present day fields are still underlain by drainage networks installed during the 19th century.
Tileworks proliferated – a lot of the rural parishes had one by the mid-19th century – and several of these diversified into the production of bricks. These works lasted as long as there was agricultural land to drain – a task mostly accomplished by the third quarter of the 19th century. Many works were instigated by improving estate owners – indeed George Hay, 8th Marquis of Tweeddale, obtained a patent for innovative tilemaking equipment in 1839. In general, these rural works were small scale. Maps often show just a single kiln of, it can be deduced, the intermittent ‘Scotch’ design – which could be wood fired.
At the other end of the scale were firms like the Pinkie Brickworks to the east of Musselburgh, Seafield Brick and Tile Works at Dunbar and Gordon’s Pottery at Prestonpans. The latter developed expertise in tilemaking and William Brodie took Seafield to new heights by innovating in both machinery and also scale: under the Brodies it became the centre of a suite of brickworks scattered over Scotland. The Brodies also invested in their own shipping line.
As the tileworks reached their peak, innovation in the coal mining industry revolutionised industrial ceramic output. By integrating coal, shale and fireclay produced onsite and applying mechanised factory production methods unit costs were driven down while production was scaled up. In East Lothian, Prestongrange Colliery was at the front of this development, but Bankpark Fireclay Works by Tranent, Wallyford Brickworks, and Gladsmuir Brickworks (for a brief period) also feature. As well as combining raw materials and fuel from the same site, the longest lived of these sites also exploited good rail connections. Spurs linked Prestongrange, Wallyford and Bankpark directly to the national rail network, enabling them to establish depots in Edinburgh (and further afield) to exploit demand for their products in the growing cities. Prestongrange also maintained an international trade through Morrison’s Haven.
All good things come to an end. When agricultural drainage was completed, there was no need for many of the rural tileworks – most closed before the opening of the 20th century. Seafield at Dunbar was near worked out by the 1890s and, distant from sources of fuel, was becoming uneconomic anyway. Pinkie kept going into the 20th century by following the clay deposits southwards towards Pinkie Brae.
Of the fireclay works, Bankpark shut when local deposits were worked out but Prestongrange and Wallyford continued post 1947 under the National Coal Board. They both transferred to the control of a NCB subsidiary company, the Scottish Brick Corporation, in 1969 but did not long survive. Wallyford shut in 1972 and Prestongrange was closed in 1975.
See also: Sanderson, K. W. The Scottish Refractory Industry, 1830-1980. Edinburgh, 1980; and Douglas, G. and M. Oglethorpe Brick, Tile and Fireclay Industries in Scotland. Edinburgh, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland 1993.
The Military System in East Lothian 1790–1850
Armies universally rely on part-time or volunteer forces to relieve the burden of routine during times of stress or to augment front-line forces during long campaigns by providing reserves and garrisons. The mechanisms for raising such forces have naturally varied over time. Sometimes volunteers surge to the colours, but balloting and conscription have also been used. Under the UK system the term ‘militia’ was generally applied to statutory regional levies regarded as a part of the armed forces; units raised by landowners (and their inducements) or communities were ‘volunteers’ whose relationship with the military command was sometimes quite tenuous.
The military systems of Scotland and England took a considerable period to align after the unification of the two countries in 1707. England’s Militia Acts aimed to provide a trained reserve that could be embodied in every district. As late as the French invasion scares of the 1790s, Scotland had no effective mechanism to provide similar forces, although both militia and ‘volunteer’ units existed in some areas. The passing of the Militia Act of 1797 attempted to regularise Scotland by giving the Lords Lieutenant the powers to recruit county militias.
The attempted imposition of this Act in East Lothian was handled so badly that it is recalled to this day as the Tranent Massacre. The militia was intended for home service but as this could include deployments to the south of England or even Ireland desertions and failure to deploy were endemic: the Haddington(shire) Local Militia didn’t form until 1808.
In contrast, elsewhere in the county volunteer bodies had appeared spontaneously and with no concomitant disturbance, for example at Dunbar in 1793 and at Musselburgh and North Berwick in 1797. A similar impulse saw the formation of the first three troops of the East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry, also in 1797.
After the defeat of Napoleonic France the varying elements of the county’s military receded from prominence and popularity. The yeomanry were dropped from the military establishment in 1827. The infantry volunteers merged into the militia after 1808 but the militia themselves quietly became moribund, although still formally on the books of the establishment: whereas officers continued to be appointed, the rank and file were mustered for training at ever uncertain intervals.
The Museums, Archives and Local History collections at the John Gray Centre have many deposits that relate to this subject, both primary and secondary sources, but no comprehensive study has yet been attempted.
Within the earliest Minute Book we hold for the Lord Lieutenancy there are lists of enrolled individuals and also details about the areas – they were broken down into Districts which grouped Parishes together. As they stood in 1797:
|1||Dunbar, Innerwick, Whitekirk & Tynningham, Oldhamstocks, Stenton,Prestonhaugh, Whittinghame, Spott|
|2||North Berwick, Aberlady, Direlton, Athelstaneford|
|3||Garvald, Morham, Haddington, Gifford, Bolton|
|4||Pencaitland, Salton, Humbie, Ormiston, Tranent, Prestonpans, Gladsmuir|
East Lothian’s Criminal Past
The lush green hills and pretty towns of East Lothian hide a dark past.
Hear the stories of Half-Hangit Maggie, a fishwife from Musselburgh who was hanged in 1724 but who went on to live another 40 years, or Robert Emond of North Berwick, who was tried and convicted of the gruesome double murder of Catherine Franks and her daughter Madeline in 1829.
Discover tales of East Lothian witch trials and the grim methods of torture the accused were subjected to before their fiery death. Read about the Saturday night brawls, the music pirates and the sheep stealers and petty thieves who were whipped through the town and told never to return.
Learn how the Church also took a strong line on wrongdoers. Adulterers, fornicators and gossips were punished by a variety of methods being put in the jougs (an iron collar), or kneeling on the stool of repentance in front of the whole congregation, or sometimes even being put to death.
Was your ancestor one of East Lothian’s criminals? Come see what you can find out at the John Gray Centre.
Battlefields of East Lothian (AD 800–1745)
East Lothian is home to some of the most important battle sites in Scotland, from the 9th century to the 18th.
The Siege of Haddington (1548–49 AD)
The Battle of Prestonpans (1745): to visit the site, either climb up to the top of the viewing mound at Meadowmill (signposted from the A1) or follow the self-guided walk described in the downloadable battle leaflet.
Each battle was fought over an extensive area, which is now part of the working landscape of East Lothian.
In some cases, a battle memorial has been erected to mark the site of the event, and at Athelstaneford an interpretive centre has been created at the doocot.
There are further plans to provide better access and interpretation provision at all of East Lothian’s battle sites.
Days Out in the Past – Dunbar
For the good people of Dunbar, 3 September 1650 must have seemed as if the end of days had arrived. It was a wild stormy night of howling wind and rain, and then in the early hours of the morning came the crash and thunder of battle, as Oliver Cromwell’s army of Parliament fought a Scottish force just outside the town.
This was to be one of Cromwell’s greatest victories. His army had been forced to retreat to Dunbar, a dishevelled and outnumbered force that expected to escape in ships waiting in the harbour. But instead Cromwell spotted a weakness in the Scottish positions and ordered his army to attack. It was said that he rode about his regiments on a pony, biting his lip until it bled in nervous anticipation of the battle to come. Then when victory was certain, Cromwell was seen laughing uncontrollably as sheer relief began to set in.
The events of that day will be reenacted on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September as part of East Lothian Archaeology & Local History Fortnight. There will be encampments to explore and activities for all the family, before the two sides battle once again with the sounds of musket and cannon.
The aftermath of the battle was brutal, with Cromwell’s cavalry troopers mercilessly pursuing the fleeing Scottish soldiers. Some were taken prisoner and marched away to captivity in Durham, where gruesome evidence of their fate came to light a few years ago, with the discovery of mass graves.
An exhibition at Dunbar Town House Museum explains the back story of the graves, how they were discovered and the painstaking process of uncovering their history. The exhibition is open daily between 1 – 5pm, until 30 September. A special event, CSI 1650, will reveal some of the techniques used by archaeologists and scientists to identify the bodies and piece together their story.
Dunbar itself has a real sense of place, with a wealth of historic buildings and a maze of narrow medieval closes leading off the High Street. One of these unique and atmospheric spaces will be opened up to the public, as part of an event on Wednesday 11 September. In Black Bull Close derelict buildings are being brought back to life by local social enterprise The Ridge. Recent archaeological investigations have revealed the fascinating story of these historic buildings, from their medieval origins to the Victorian period.
The Cromwell and New Harbours are also well worth visiting, still home to working boats bringing in the catch, and with many nooks and crannies to explore. The picturesque ruins of Dunbar Castle still dominate on the cliffs above the old harbour, but also look out for the Battery. Built in the 1700s to defend the town from the French, it has recently been restored as an outdoor venue. The Battery will provide the setting for a dramatic event commemorating the Battle of Dunbar on Friday 13 September.
Something to eat? There are lots of cafés to choose from on the High Street. A stone’s throw from the harbour are Creels Restaurant and the Volunteer Arms pub, both historic buildings built in the early 1800s.
How to get there? By bus – East Coast Buses X7. By train – Dunbar railway station is close to the town centre, served by Scotrail and CrossCountry trains. By car – off the A1 on the A1087.
- Battle of Dunbar 1650 Re-enactment Weekend, off Spott Road Dunbar, Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, 11am – 5pm, Adult £5 Child £3.
- Bodies of Evidence from the Battlefield of Dunbar to Durham, Dunbar Town House Museum, exhibition until 30 September, open daily 1pm – 5pm.
- CSI 1650, Dunbar Town House Museum, Saturday 14 September, 1pm – 4pm, for booking phone 01620 820699 or call in at the Dunbar Town House.
- Restoring Buildings Restoring People: Community Archaeology at Black Bull Close, Wednesday 11 September, 7.30pm
- The Soldiers of Dunbar 1650, Dunbar Harbour Battery, Friday 13 September, 7.30pm – 8.30pm.
- For more on the Dunbar Battery project visit dunbarbattery.org.uk
Words: David Hicks
World War One Memorials
Use this page to navigate to the relevant community (parish/town/village) detailed indexes of those who fell, or served, during World War One.
Each place in the table below has at least one war memorial; some have several.
Click on each community to see the details of those recorded.
Please click on the following link for a complete spread sheet of names on the following war memorials (in pdf format). East Lothian World War One Memorial Project. Do contact us at [email protected] with any enquiries, comments or corrections.
The Green Man
Dr Islay Donaldson’s remarkable little book East Lothian Gravestones takes us away from the run of the mill inscription side of local history and gravestones and into the artistic and cultural background to the markers and monuments themselves. One of the subjects she highlighted was the phenomenon of the Green Man in East Lothian’s kirkyards and kirks.
The Green man is a pan-European theme with roots deep in the Pre-Christian past. Scarce (but by no means unknown) in Scotland, his origins have been traced to the Romans and Greeks of ancient times. With the spread of Christianity the Green Man moved north into Europe, adopted as a symbol of nature, of resurrection, and for the unconquerable life of the spirit (Donaldson). He is everywhere in the great Churches and Cathedrals of Europe and England and, although he was persecuted by the Reformers in Scotland, the masons that made the churches and headstones (perhaps subversively) kept him alive into the 17th and 18th centuries. And it turns out that this tradition was particularly strong in East Lothian!
Representations of the Green Man are known from several kirkyards:
and on St Marys Kirk itself!
There will be more – and we would be delighted to hear of any! They lurk unnoticed on the edges of headstones or amidst carved swathes of foliage, peeping out from scroll-work. Sometimes they are detailed, sometimes just sketched in. They are often hard to find at first. But once one is spotted, they seem soon to be everywhere. They have both happy and sad faces – and some are downright comical – reinforcing the message that life is vigorous and perplexing. As Islay Donaldson notes:
to stonemasons he was an endearing symbol, a folk-memory they were not willing to forget. It is good that he is to be found so insistently and disturbingly … adding another richness to what is so rich already.
The revival of interest in folklore has equally revived interest in the Green Man. He continues to crop up as a popular name for public houses and in festivals and the arts: the web is a prolific source of both original and contemporary images – but what better way to find out about East Lothian’s very own little green men than to explore our kirkyards yourself. You can find them through our map search – there are both used and disused kirkyards and many are recorded in the Historic Environment Record. Happy hunting!