Living History Centre

An early concept sketch by HaleySharpe

The Battle of Prestonpans was an event of international significance, and its story combines fascinating personalities, dramatic events, sacrifice and heroism, and a rich cultural legacy. It has sustained popular interest over three centuries and continues to do so today. Despite being registered on the nation’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields, the site of the battle remains vulnerable to development pressure, giving all endeavours to promote access and understanding of the battlefield additional importance.

The Battle of Prestonpans (1745) Heritage Trust has long considered the battle to be worthy of a permanent visitor attraction, and has undertaken considerable evaluation and analysis to assess the potential. The battles of Culloden and Bannockburn have both benefited from considerable investment, creating visitor attractions which both serve the heritage and act as economic drivers for their areas. We believe Prestonpans should be next.

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Trust has worked with external consultants to undertake a comprehensive review of its activities to date and an appraisal of the options and opportunities for the future. Our conclusion is that the Trust requires a permanent visitor attraction to move its work forward and to provide a sustainable future for the interpretation of the battle. The next step is to create a vision worthy of the story to be told, and a pathway for making our dreams a reality.

Our vision is simple: the creation of a permanent visitor attraction which presents the battle and its legacy in immersive and engaging exhibition spaces, providing a permanent home for The Prestonpans Tapestry and a hub for maximising the cultural potential of the Trust’s activities.

The Trust’s vision is founded on updated analysis of the visitor market and comparative studies of similar attractions. Harnessing the potential of the site’s proximity to the Scottish capital, the latent attractions of East Lothian, the enhanced international interest in Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, and the unique nature of the envisaged offer, the Trust believes this vision can attract an estimated 80-100,000 visits each year.

The new centre will also secure the long-term sustainability of the Trust’s programmes of activity, and ensure that The Prestonpans Tapestry and Scottish Diaspora Tapestry are preserved for the future. The following pages will explore different aspects of the vision, and the pathways to realising it.

Browse the following pages to explore the Vision, then let us know what you think: