Tower and garden of Preston Tower, Prestonpans
Coastal view at Prestonpans
Preston mercat cross, Prestonpans
Prestonpans
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Prestonpans is a bit spread out. It doesn't feel as if there's any heart to the village. I suppose the real heart would at one time have been around the old mercat cross, located beside Preston Tower. It was once said to be 'the most handsome mercat cross in Scotland', boasting an upper platform where news and proclamations were read out to the assembled townsfolk as far back as the early 17th century. Quite separate from the village of Preston, downhill at the edge of the wide Firth of Forth, there used to be a great salt-making industry. It's thought salt was first made here by monks as far back as 1198. They used salt water from the Firth of Forth and evaporated off the water in great pans (hence the name 'Prestonpans') to leave behind the salt. Salt production continued here right up to the 20th century. Few industries last nearly 800 years in the one location.
Prestonpans was also the site of a great battle in 1745. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie, led a force of Jacobites to victory against Government forces. Today you can stand on a small man-made hillock with a Jacobite flag and information panels, and look down on the battle site. It's hard to imagine that not that long ago men fought and died right here. This beautiful bit of countryside once played host to the sounds of muskets and cannon when the air was hazy with gunpowder smoke and filled with the cries of men who were breathing their last.
PRESTON TOWER AND GARDENS
THE COAST AT PRESTONPANS
PRESTON MERCAT CROSS
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How to
GET THERE


You can get a train to Prestonpans from Edinburgh.
Scotland’s online tourist guide – tartan hippo logo