Ian Irving’s ‘discovery’ of Battle of Pinkie Cleugh leads to book to help fund visitor centre

INCOME raised through the sale of a new book will go towards helping a future campaign to establish a visitor centre for the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.

Author Ian Irving, from Inveresk, remains hopeful that a facility to highlight the battle – one of Scotland’s “biggest and bloodiest” battles – will be developed after the preferred site, at the former Crookston School in Wallyford, was sold for another use.

Mr Irving is celebrating the publication of a book about Pinkie Cleugh and has pledged the proceeds “to further the possibility of a visitor centre in the future”.

He explained that the origins of his interest in the battle, which he described as the “least-known battle” in Scottish history, went back to holidays in the south of France with his wife Betty, family, friends and neighbours.

He said: “It was an annual journey to a holiday park on the outskirts of St Aygulf on the French Riviera, Côte d’Azur.

“Whilst there, we made friends with other holidaymakers, and one in particular was Hugh, a retired customs officer from Scotland, living in London.

“Hugh knew we came from East Lothian and asked about a battle there in 1547. He was surprised that we didn’t know anything about it and showed me a copy of Osprey Elite book 167, entitled Scottish Renaissance Armies 1513-1550.

“In the book was a brief account of the battle and many areas and buildings referred to were known by me because I live locally.

“Obviously, my interest was kindled and later developed into a bonfire.

“Hugh kindly gave me the book and I agreed to keep him informed with any information I could glean.”

Back home, Mr Irving went on to join a small group of residents who had formed the Pinkie Cleugh Battlefield Group, where he learned more about the historical conflict which led to the departure to France of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her marriage to the Dauphin to secure “the Auld Alliance” with France.

Mr Irving added: “They confirmed that Pinkie Cleugh was the last great battle in the final war between the separate kingdoms of Scotland and England before they were united under the rule of a single monarch.

“For six years, a number of members of Pinkie Cleugh Battlefield Group and I had regular meetings to discuss the battle and ascertain as much information about the main area of confrontation between the armies of England and Scotland.

“The more information I obtained indicated to me that I should attempt to write a book about the battle.

“At this time, the old Crookston School came up for sale and consideration was given to opening it as a visitors’ centre.

“Several meetings with the owners proved fruitful but circumstances ended that idea.

“The Pinkie Battlefield Group, together with members of the Old Musselburgh Club, continued to work to help to enhance the experience of visitors to this interesting and rewarding battle site.

“I personally continued to gather material for a book pertaining to the forgotten battle.”

Mr Irving has now published the book, which is available to buy from Amazon or directly from him.

He added: “Opinions and judgements in my book are my own and I believe I have been able to produce a book of interest for history seekers, school history information, tourists and media outlets.

“The subject related to historic events and I am confident that the facts obtained are accurate but would welcome further scrutiny.

“To date, I have met the costs of my investigation but any income from my book will be used to further the possibility of a visitor centre in the future.

“I enjoyed writing the book and found it very interesting.

“I was surprised that I had not heard about it in school.”

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