haddington

Nungate Bridge and Doo'cot,

Old Nungate Bridge carried a main route into Scotland over the river Tyne. A bridge has existed on the site since the 13th century but the present structure dates from about 1550. It is thus one of the oldest bridges in Scotland. It consists of three red sandstone arches and is 30 m. long. Masons’ marks on the stone suggest it may have been removed from ruined parts of the nearby St. Mary’s church. An iron hook remains in one of the arches from which criminals were hung. The bridge is now used only by pedestrians.

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Barnes Castle, East Lothian, Scotland

Barnes Castle is an unfinished castle, with a number of defensive banks, on the slope of the Garleton Hills, located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north-east of Haddington and close to Athelstaneford in East Lothian, Scotland. The castle was started by Sir John Seton of Barnes, diplomat at the court of Philip II of Spain and later James VI’s Treasurer of the Household and an Extraordinary Lord of Session, who died in 1594. The entrance gate was in the center of the south-west wall. It was a modern and symmetrical design for its time.

Battle of Athelstaneford

Tradition relates that in AD 832 the king of the Picts, ‘Aengus MacFergus’, with the support of 'Scots’ from Dalriada, won a great battle against King Athelstane of the Northumbrians. The site of the legendary battle became known as Athelstaneford in present-day East Lothian.

It is said that before the battle, King Aengus dreamt of St Andrew bearing his Saltire cross. According to the legend, during the battle Aengus saw a cross of white clouds against a blue sky.

The Picts and Scots won the battle. The Saltire - a white diagonal cross on a blue background - became the flag of Scotland and St Andrew was adopted as Scotland’s patron saint.

The Scottish Flag Heritage Centre in Athelstaneford, near Haddington in East Lothian, tells the story of King Aengus and the Battle.

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Chesters Hill Fort, East Lothian, Scotland

Chesters Hill Fort dates back approximately 2000 years. It lies about three miles north of Haddington, and five miles south west of North Berwick. The name Chesters comes from the Latin castra, meaning a fortified place. It has been suggested that the fort was a base of the Votadini tribe, allies of the Romans during the period of Roman incursion into Southern Scotland.

16th September 1421- A Flood in Haddington

On the 16th September 1421 (the feast of St Ninian in the calendar of the Church) it is recorded that there was substantial rainfall in Lothian, causing the River Tyne to burst its banks. The subsequent flooding in the surrounding area, and in particular the burgh of Haddington, East Lothian, caused a large amount of damage, especially to the books and vestments of the church there, some of which were utterly ruined. Walter Bower, likely a Haddington man himself, recorded in his Scotichronicon that the waters were so high that large boats were able to be floated into the church, and several mills along the river were wrecked. 

In his history of the town  (‘The Lamp of Lothian’), James Miller notes that:
“Though generally of moderate breadth, averaging ten or twelve yards, and two or three feet in depth, yet being as a trough to a large extent of sloping grounds, particularly the Lammermuir range of hills to the south, the Tyne sometimes suddenly swells to great height, and overflowing its banks, does considerable damage to the labours of the husbandman.”

Certainly the flood of 1421 was neither the first nor the last of such occurrences in the burgh (in particular, the late eighteenth century saw several in a matter of a few years), and Haddington was by no means the only town that saw flooding in the Middle Ages- such events pop up now again in the records, along with other disasters, such as fires (extremely common in the flammable towns), crop failures, hard frosts, and high winds. However it makes for an interesting example and a good reminder of how ordinary people’s lives in the Middle Ages were affected as much, if not far more, by acts of god as they were by the actions of any king- rather like today.