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About eastlothianantiquarians

The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society, established in 1924, is a membership organisation and a charity. Member events include outings and a copy of the Transactions for just £15/annum. We also welcome short contributions from members for the website.

East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalists Society – 10th August 2020

Dear Member,

I feel I should make a progress report but it is rather a no progress report.

I wrote to you some time ago saying that because of the government imposed Lock Down we could not meet. I had hoped then that if we abandoned the summer meetings, we would be able to have autumn talks. I feel that with present guidelines this will not be possible, nor is it clear that members would wish to attend. I feel therefore,  sadly, that we should cancel our meetings until at Least Christmas. I am sure this is the worst scenario we have had in our history of  nearly  a hundred years.

We are still doing a certain amount. Our accounts have been made  up and have  gone for audit. Arran is working on the Transactions and we hope to publish them as expected in the Spring. If you intend to submit material please get in touch with him.

We launched an idea for the website inviting short contributions .We have not been inundated. Only three pierces have appeared. Two by me and one by Joy so it’s over to you, if we are to keep this feature going.

Three obituaries have been placed on the forum on the web site; for Ailsa Maxwell who  died on 10th Feb 2020; for Rennie Weatherhead who died on 9th March; and for and Brian Young who died on May 28th

Dunbar was to have celebrated the 650th.anniversary of the charter granted by David 2nd on 8th February  but this had to be abandoned. It was suggested because there was a very different population now in the town, that I, as a survivor, who had played various parts in the intervening years might write some history in Lock Down.

I agreed to do so and have written a series of pieces about Dunbar since 1970, which may be of some interest. There are 16 in all, edited by Philip Immirzi, and are now on Dunbar Community Council Web site.

On our own web site you can also see;

‘St Anne’s Upon Dunbar Sands  stands closest to the sea’  and ‘A mystery solved ,The guns at Bourhouse’

both by me and,

‘Prestonpans West Kirkyard’ by Joy Dodd;

both on the Members Forum.

I will be in touch again when I feel; we are making progress.

Best wishes to you all in these trying times

Stephen Bunyan

Bartholemew half inch 1940-1947 showing coastal defence areas to the North East

A mystery solved: Guns at Bourhouse

The guns at Bourhouse were known to have existed but nothing else was known about them locally. By an amazing chance this position changed in 2005 when The Rev L Twaddle forwarded to me a letter he had received about ten years before. I decided to telephone the sender with little hope of success to my surprise and delight I found Mr Emery alive and very willing to talk. I feel that his report is of importance and that I should put it in the public domain. I therefore publish his letter as sent. Continue reading

East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society – 20 March 2020 – Letter from the President

Dear Member

I am writing to you to you to express concern about the present position. We face, as you know, a grave situation where life seems to be closing down around us. Who would have believed a month ago that we would have museums closed, the Boat Race and the Grand National cancelled!

We were to have had a Council meeting this evening but responding to government guidelines we decided not to hold it but the office bearers have had some discussion via telephone and “virtual” Minutes will be collated and distributed to Council members. I am sadly writing to tell you that we feel we should put the majority of our programme on hold for the foreseeable future. So;

  1. The Dinner proposed for 17th April is postponed until a possible date in the Autumn.
  2. The AGM was proposed for 9th of May. We will try to do the business by e mail, Skype or more probably telephone conferencing.
  3. An outing to the Farne Islands on the 20th June. is now not likely to be possible and so we are cancelling it.
  4. We will revue the rest of our provisional programme in May in the light of UK and international events.
  5. We are continuing to work on the Transactions.
  6. We have set up a Members’ Forum on the website and are encouraging members to make short contributions of 500 to 600 words with images. If you have something you would like to contribute please contact Arran. Johnston arran_johnston@hotmail.com It is easy to use the web site; just type in the name of the Society and you will find it.
  7. Obituary It is with sorrow that I intimate the death of Ailsa Maxwell, a long term former member, on the 10th February and of Rennie Weatherhead, member and former member of the Council of the Society, on March 10. Obituary notices have been posted.

I hope that the world situation will improve so that we can soon resume normal service.

Best wishes

Stephen Bunyan

St Anne’s Upon Dunbar Sands Stood Nearest to The Sea

The ancient ecclesiastical history of Dunbar is illuminated by an ancient rhyme, but it is confused because there are two versions. The rhyme was

St Abb, St Helen and St Bey
They all built kirks which to be nearest to the sea
St Abb’s upon the Nabs,
St Helen’s on the Lea,
St Bey’s upon Dunbar Sands stands nearest to the sea

The second and probably later version has

St Ann’s upon Dunbar Sands, stands nearest to the sea.

Continue reading

The Society and Haddington House

Haddington House has just undergone extensive refurbishment and restoration and is now available as offices for local businesses and will provide useful income for the Lamp of Lothian Trust.

The Society was concerned about the state of the House as far back as 1942. They attempted to secure its future but did not have the resources to do so. They were however able to do so because the Earl of Wemyss became involved. He supported the Society until his death but his main contribution to the affairs of the Society was, to make it possible for them to realise the ambition of securing the future of Haddington House.

Continue reading

Liz Curtis – “East Lothian’s place-names: A journey through time.” Saturday 8th Feb 2020

Please note the change of date to: Saturday 8th Feb 2020

Liz will present an illustrated talk outlining how East Lothian’s place-names have developed over the last 2,000 years. Successive waves of settlers, including Britons, Anglians, _ ” Scandinavians and Gaelic-speaking Scots, have all contributed 71 to the rich mix of place-names we know today. In turn, the place-names give us an insight into their societies.

Visitors welcome. Voluntary donation £2 gratefully received

For further information contact eastlothianantiquarians@gmail.com

East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalist Society Winter Talks 2019 — 2020
All talks are held at the Maitlandfield Hotel, Haddington, at 2.30pm

 

A Short History of Haddington

EXACTLY 79 years has elapsed since East Lothian Antiquarians first published Forbes Gray’s A Short History of Haddington.

Now, 34 years after the re-publication by SPA Press, we are pleased to offer here a digitally scanned edition of the same facsimile. Forbes Gray starts the Preface thus:

EXACTLY a century has elapsed since James Miller published his Lamp of Lothian, the only work that attempts seriously to review the Royal Burgh of Haddington in its historical aspect. Considering the period at which it was written, likewise the fact that the writer was printer and not an historian, Miller accomplished his task with some credit. His path was beset with difficulties, some of them formidable. Miller had neither the time nor the facilities for writing the history of town rich in memorials of the past, town dating back to the time of David I. Moreover, he approached the subject from wrong angle. Instead of placing Haddington in the forefront, he buries it beneath long-winded disquisitions on the general history of Scotland. Indeed The Lamp of Lothian may not incorrectly be described as survey of our national story in which Haddington is introduced incidentally.

In the following pages an effort is made to reverse the process to place Haddington in the centre of the picture, and to bring in just as much national history as is essential for rendering intelligible the part played by the town in events which affected Scotland as whole. Written before the days of research as we know it, Miller’s book not only suffers from false perspective, imperfect knowledge, and ill-arrangement, but omits aspects vital to an adequate presentation of the subject. Had more extensive investigation of the sources been possible to him it would have revealed much fresh and illuminating material, which has been largely utilised in this work.

The work is in two parts. The first seven chapters set forth the reactions of Haddington to national affairs, while the remaining six treat of topographical features, as well as of municipal, industrial, and social life. In a work of limited scope it has not been deemed necessary to cite authorities in every instance, but all important statements are vouched for. Supplementary material of an interesting character is supplied in footnotes. The pictorial element includes rare and curious drawings depicting the burgh in bygone times, and there is copious index.

Stephen Bunyan, president of ELAFNS, says it was a major effort at the time and remains probably the best history of Haddington available. It is still available at the John Gray Centre.

 

 

Stephanie Leith – “St Martin’s Church, Haddington” – Saturday 14th March 2020

PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF DATE TO THE 14TH MARCH 2020

This well-preserved ruin is a rare survival of a 12th century church in Scotland. Belonging to the Cistercian nunnery of St Mary’s, St Martin’s was used by both the nuns and the people of Haddington, and can give us an insight into how the nunnery interacted with and influenced the town.

A recent geophysical survey of the church and its surroundings has revealed both its early history, and reuse and remodelling of the graveyard in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Visitors welcome. Voluntary donation £2 gratefully received

For further information contact eastlothianantiquarians@gmail.com

East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalist Society Winter Talks 2019 — 2020
All talks are held at the Maitlandfield Hotel, Haddington, at 2.30pm

Photo © Lisa Jarvis (cc-by-sa/2.0)