As the name suggest the County of East Lothian covers the area to the East of the City of Edinburgh taking in the town of Musselburgh on the outskirts of the City Boundary to the town of Haddington on the main A1 trunk road heading southwards. Prior to regionalisation Musselburgh was in the County of Midlothian. The county is mainly rural. Farming is extensive and fishing is carried out from many of the small ports dotted along the coast line. The County town is Haddington which is a Burgh and houses the Sheriff Court of East Lothian. The Firth of Forth is to the north, the North Sea to the East and the County Border with Berwickshire is to the south on the Lammermuir Hills. The County of East Lothian lies between Edinburgh and the English Border. Because of the geography many important battles between the English and the Scots were fought on it's soil. Amongst others were Dunbar in 1650 and Prestonpans in 1745.
Three miles north of Haddington is the small village of Athelstaneford. Legend has it that this was the birth place of the Scottish Saltire, the national flag of Scotland. In 832AD the Picts and the Scots combined forces to fight the Northumbrian King Athelstane. On the eve of the battle St Andrew, who was crucified on a cross, came as a vision to the Scots King Óengus II and promised him victory. The following morning the Scots observed white clouds forming a cross against the background of the blue sky, the colours of St Andrew. The battle was victorious and was attributed to St Andrew who was adopted as the Patron Saint of Scotland. A white cross against a blue background was adopted as the Scottish flag.. The English King Athelstan was killed at a nearby river crossing and the place he fell was named Athelstaneford.
Golf Courses in East Lothian are second to none. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers is the oldest golf club in the world and their club is called Muirfield. It is the only course in the UK that has hosted the Open on 15 occasions. A few miles nearer to Edinburgh is the Musselburgh Links the Old Golf Course. Part of it can be seen at the rear of the Jockey's at Musselburgh race course on the photograph above. This course is the oldest playing course in the world and hosted the Open on six occasions between 1874 and 1889. It is recognised that Scotland is the home of golf and the history of golf in East Lothian is on par with that of the history of the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews.
Between Longniddry and Gullane is Aberlady Bay.It was designated the first nature reserve in the United Kingdom in 1952 and a site of Special Interest due in no part to its botanical, ornithological and geomorphologic qualities. John Muir the founder of the American National parks was born in nearby Dunbar. East Lothian is also a photographic paradise. The photogenic scenery of the small villages that dot the county are of chocolate box quality. Sea fishing is good along the coast and boats can be hired from many of the small ports. All in all there is much to do and see in this area. Below is a link to some of the historic castles in East Lothian
Many battles have been fought in East Lothian.The Battle of Prestonpans also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir, was fought on 21 September 1745, near Prestonpans, in East Lothian; it was the first significant engagement of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 25th July 1745 Prince Charles landed near Moidart in the Highlands of Scotland with seven companions. He raised his standard at Glenfinnan and assembled an army from the clans that supported his bid for the throne. This army marched into Edinburgh on 17th September 1745. The two royal dragoons regiments fled at the highland approach in the infamous “Colterbrigg canter”.General Sir John Cope, the commander of the small royal force in Scotland, had marched to Inverness with his four regiments of foot. Cope brought his troops south to Dunbar by sea and met up with the dragoons. None of his troops, dragoons or foot, were experienced or even adequately trained. Cope’s artillery can only be described as a “scratch” force comprising invalids and seamen under by one aged gunner. Cope marched North along the coast road towards Edinburgh.
Another battle was at Dunbar. In 1296 Edward I invaded Scotland. King John Balliol had signed a treaty with France, Edward's enemy. Edward thought this was disloyal. The Scottish and English armies fought at Dunbar. The battle ended with one cavalry charge. The Scottish army was beaten and forced to run. Most of them escaped but around 100 Scottish knights were captured and held prisoner in England. One of these prisoners was Andrew Murray - who would later escape and beat Edward's army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. With no army to protect him, King John surrendered. Edward ripped the royal insignia from his tunic. He removed the Stone of Destiny, the stone on which Scottish kings were crowned, from Scotland to stop the Scottish lords making another king.
Balliol was made a prisoner in England. Edward didn't have all his own way for too long, though. A man called William Wallace, arrived on the scene. Many of those battles were during the two wars of Scottish Independence. It is far to detailed and involved to go into here. But without doubt it is fascinating reading and half the time you could not make it up. It finally ended on the fields of Bannockburn just outsdide Stirling when King Robert the Bruce defeated the army of Edward the II. And then kicked of again. A link to historic castles in East Lothian is below.