During the fifty years that have passed since the publication of the East Lothian volume of the third statistical account, great changes have occurred both in the situation in East Lothian and in the study of local history in Scotland. In this field there has been a great expansion with increasing recognition of its importance in university departments, in local authority library and museum services, and in the setting up of local history societies. There has also been increasing recognition of the importance of the three existing great statistical accounts, which gave reports of Scotland, parish by parish. They were produced at three critical stages in our history. The first was written when the work of the agricultural improvers was virtually complete, and proto-industrial changes were under way; the second was written just at the beginning of a period of vast industrial change, and the third when the country was coming to terms with the aftermath of large scale war. All gave important analyses, both of stability and change.
As the new millennium approached, it became clear that the last, the third, account of East Lothian had become, like its predecessors, a historical document and that since its publication, the county had been subject to enormous social and economic change.
By 1997, there was a feeling that it was time to do the exercise again. The council of the East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society, under their president, Professor Mitchison, decided to explore the feasibility of such a project. Professor Mitchison fully endorsed the proposal for a Fourth Statistical Account of East Lothian.
The Account is presented in two parts – the county and the parishes. The first contains a series of countywide essays, which are complemented by the detailed parish contributions. Additional information and some longer versions of both are presented on the CD version of the work.
These volumes contribute to our understanding of the economic and social history of the county, 1945 to 2000; they should in no way be seen as the complete story of the period, as each topic could, in itself, be the subject of far more research and study. There are omissions too. Some topics have not been addressed, as there simply was no existing research available, at the required level. There is always more to discover; we have made a start. East Lothian is in many ways, Scotland in miniature; it has a wide range of landscapes, occupations and experiences. Inevitably, the county’s experiences mirrored the Scottish and even the British picture; the difference lies in the detail.
This mammoth task has been a labour of love, but has been more testing than any love affair. East Lothian is worth such effort. We hope this Millennium Landmark will be read, be useful, but above all be enjoyed, for a good part of the third millennium.
Stephen Bunyan, Chairman
Sonia Baker, Editor
East Lothian Fourth Statistical Account Society