Prestonkirk | Revisiting the past
One of the most active organisations in promoting interest in East Linton in recent years has been the East Linton Local History Society. Its publication in 1999, By The Linn Rocks,, has sold nearly 1000 copies and includes a detailed account of life in East Linton in the 1900s, as well as notes on the earlier parish history.
Another interesting voluntary project in recent years has been the complete survey and recording of all the gravestones in Prestonkirk graveyard. The 29 members of the Preston Kirk Burial Ground Survey Group published their records of 743 gravestones in 1998. The inscription of each stone was recorded, together with a photographic record, and the information was then made available through the Internet. The survey and its publication have attracted considerable interest and praise from across the world.
In a different way, a database has been prepared of the most significant trees at Smeaton-Hepburn estate. This project, initiated through the Smeaton-Hepburn Tree Heritage Trust, has also published leaflets to inform both the casual visitor and the botanical enthusiasts who regularly visit the lake area.
Another project has been the publication of the History of Preston Kirk by Chris Tabraham in 1989 to mark the completion of major repairs to the church in that year.
Recent aerial surveys have suggested that the field to the north of the graveyard and the flood plain at Phantassie to the south of the river have sites of archaeological interest which would add to our understanding of the early inhabitants of this picturesque area.
In conclusion, while this account of the parish covers the past 50 years, the opportunity has been taken at times to identify trends that may shape the next half century. Early on in the account, a picture was given by a resident returning from the war; another resident has described how a spirit of self-help arose, with many projects taken on by returning ex-service people, all on a voluntary basis and with funds raised by running whist drives and sales of work. But one consistent trend from the account has been a major shift in the organisation of community management with less local control or influence. Outwith the parish, a number of recent studies of social change indicate that an approach dealing with the symptoms of dysfunction in communities, such as drugs addiction, or health management in the third world striving to cope with HIV and malaria, is more likely to be successful by rebuilding community networks and structures. Perhaps in the new century, we need to rediscover mechanisms to rebuild healthy local communities. It will not be easy if the trend from community to personal interests is maintained.
THIS ACCOUNT OF PRESTONKIRK PARISH WAS COMPILED BY DAVID K. AFFLECK ON BEHALF OF THE EAST LINTON LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND ESSAYS WERE PROVIDED BY THE FOLLOWING:
- Iain McKenzie: Police
- Tom Middlemass: Economy – Agriculture
- Rosemary Wilkes: Environment – wildlife
And additional advice on the content of this account was given by:
- Ian and Anne Craik
- George and Anne Gray
- George Laing
- Jim and Mary Macfarlane
- Garry Menzies
- Judith Priest
- David Ritchie
- John Steele
- Steve and Jane Stevenson
- Chris Tabraham