The final meeting of the summer programme was a visit to Gilmerton Walled Garden on Sunday 7th October. Sir David and Lady Kinloch have established a trust called ‘Growing Matters’ to create a centre of gardening therapy to provide a life enhancing environment for those facing challenges to their mental and physical health.
Our group was received by Jerry Simcock who explained the back ground to the trust and outlined what they hoped to achieve. His wife Diana, who was unable to meet us, is now co-ordinating efforts to restore the garden. This will be an immense task.
The trust has developed an excellent plan , but an enormous amount of effort will be required to develop it.
It is good to see an increasing interest in these old gardens and our group had some interesting discussion and wished the endeavour every success. They would welcome volunteers donations of cash and kind. [ twitter@gilmertongarden]
Their promotional card has a quotation from Audrey Hepburn. ’To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow’.
The members of the society made a visit to Coldingham Priory on Saturday 1st September. Arrangements the visit were made by David Philp who hosted the party. The visit was led by Rennie Weatherhead, a longstanding member of the society, he has an immense knowledge of and interest in St Ebba, St Abbs and Coldingham. It was good to see this huge foundation, now reduced to a small but much loved parish church unlike the other pre-reformation monastic remains in the Borders which are no longer places of worship still playing an important role in the community.
Rennie spoke about the history of the building. He pointed out details of both the interior and exterior stonework. He showed his collection of illustrations and artworks which added greatly to the interest of the day.
On Saturday 7th July, a beautiful sunny afternoon, 25 members of East Lothian Antiquarian & Field Naturalist Society trekked up Doon Hill, near Dunbar. There Professor Ian Ralston, from Edinburgh University, delivered a detailed explanation, of the original excavations in the 1960’s. Originally thought to have been an Anglian Hall, recent re-evaluation, together with radiocarbon dating has taken the date of the hall back to around 4,000 BC. The group then walked back to the car park overlooking the coast and site of the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, where Arran Johnston explained how the layout of the land, weather conditions, movements of troops and other events led to the defeat of the Scottish army.
The next outing on 11th August will be to Coldingham Priory
Download the poster here:
East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society held the first meeting of the summer programme with a visit to Stenton held on Saturday 9th June.
Mrs R Halliday led a walk-round the village pointing out features of interest. Mr B Dodd met the group in the remains of the post reformation church and outlined its special features.
Stephen Bunyan welcomed the members to the Parish Church and spoke of the contribution of the Hamilton Nisbet family in the development of the village and of Biel estate. In particular he spoke about the contribution made by Mary Hamilton Nisbet Ferguson in building the church. It was designed by William Burn and built largely at her own expense. Although later in the century her granddaughter became an Episcopalian and built the chapel at Biel she had as a heritor to pay her share for the upkeep of the parish church and would do so when alterations were made by James Jerdan in 1892 altering the position of pulpit and communion table.
From the church the group made their way to the village hall where tea was served. Thanks were expressed to those who had organised this very pleasant visit.
The next outing is to Doon Hill on Saturday 7th July when Professor Ian Ralston will talk about his recent work and Arran Johnston will talk about the Battle of Dunbar 
The Annual General Meeting of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalist Society was held at Westbarns Village Hall on Sunday 20th May 2018.
The President spoke to the Annual Report which had been circulated. He outlined the activities that had taken place during the year. Visits had been made to Fountainhall, St Abb’s nature reserve, Greywalls Hotel Gardens, Torness Power Station, Keith Marischal House and Melville Castle Hotel. A successful day of lectures on EAST LOTHIAN IN THE 19TH CENTURY, was held in September 2017. Three winter lectures were given on; The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry by Arran Johnston; John Knox and his East Lothian Connections, by Professor Jane Dawson; and Doon Hill, an update by Professor Ian Ralston. At the Annual Dinner in April, Mrs Judy Riley spoke on Helen (Countess of Haddington) entitled “The hand that launched a thousand trees”. [The development of the Tyninghame estate].
The president also reported that the transactions of the Society have now been digitised and are available on the re-vamped website. He proposed a vote of thanks to George Robertson and Philip Immirzi who had undertaken this work.
Election of Office bearers
Stephen Bunyan MBE was re-elected as President, and Joy Dodd as Vice President. Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple BT GCVO and the Dowager Countess of Wemyss and March as Vice Presidents Emeritus. The posts of Secretary and Treasurer remain vacant. There have been three resignations from the Council and three new members appointed.
The President confirmed that plans for the forthcoming year were well advanced, and thanked all who had contributed to the day, and indeed throughout the year.
Following the meeting, Arran Johnston gave an illustrated talk entitled “ Road to Defeat, General Cope’s march from Dunbar to Prestonpans”. He gave a reassessment of the events preceding the battle, and the subsequent fate of its commanders.
The next event will be on 9th June when the society will visit Stenton Village.
This picture shows Winterfield Park, where John Cope’s army was encamped after disembarking at Dunbar.
The Annual Report for the year ended 31 March 2018 is available here:
There are two outings planned in early Summer 2018:
- To Stenton Village on Saturday 9th June
- To Doon Hill on Saturday 7th July
To all members
The AGM will be held on Sunday 20th May at West Barns Village Hall at 2.30pm
At 3.0pm Arran Johnston will give a talk entitled:
“ROAD TO DEFEAT;
GENERAL COPE’S MARCH FROM
DUNBAR TO PRESTONPANS IN 1745”
Which traces the route of the army, the likely locations of their campsites in Dunbar and Haddington, and eye-witness accounts.
This is an open lecture and will be followed by tea.
Please call 01620 850877 if you wish to attend this talk.
The final event of the annual programme of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists Society was the annual dinner held in the Maitlandfield House Hotel, Haddington on Friday 20th April 2018.
A group of thirty members and guests enjoyed the fellowship of the annual dinner served with the usual efficiency by the new team at the Hotel. At the conclusion of the meal Joy Dodd introduced Mrs Judy Riley, who lives in Tyninghame House, and gave an illustrated talk; “Helen, the hand who Launched a thousand trees”. This described the significant landscape developments at Tyninghame carried out by Thomas, 6th Earl of Haddington and his wife and cousin, Helen Hope. who virtually laid out Binning Wood. The wood was cut down in the second war of the 20th century but was re planted.
Mrs Riley who is a landscape designer gave a very informed talk about on this important estate. There was some interesting discussion. Interested members and others should note that the estate is open on the 13th May. The President gave votes of thanks to the speaker and others who had helped with the organisation of the evening. He announced that the AGM would be held in Westbarns Village Hall on Sunday 20th May at 2 30.
At the conclusion of the business, Arran Johnston will give an open lecture at 3 pm entitled ’Road to Defeat; General Cope’s march from Dunbar to Prestonpans in 1745. Tea will be provided. The society in conjunction with Haddington History Society is holding a conference on September 15th in the Town House Haddington. The conference which is part of the Haddington 700 programme is entitled Charter, Church, Conflict and Community; Haddington 1318-2018.
Stephen Bunyan announced that the Transactions of the Society had been digitalised and put on an improved website.