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Robert Burns Lives!
 Volume 1 Chapter 16

By Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot Email:

This is the time of the year that any Scotsman worth a dram will pause and thank the Good Lord for the baby born on 25th January 1759 in “the auld clay biggin” in Alloway. His father rode into Ayr and brought back the Rev. William Dalrymple to baptize his son, Robert Burns. Celebrated all over the world, Robert Burns is a “Man For All Seasons”. He wrote only one book, Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, which sold for 3 shillings in 1786. Today, if you are lucky enough to find one for sale, you will pay more than some people pay for the homes they live in. You should be so lucky!

I have asked my good friend, Anne Christie, to share her unusual Burns Night experience with us. Anne is Director, Burke’s Peerage and Gentry located in the United Kingdom, and you will enjoy her unique story and the pictures that accompany the article. I met Anne several years ago at an excellent Scottish Weekend in Moultrie, Georgia put on by our esteemed Editor, Beth Gay. Anne is a talented lady, and we welcome her to the continuing story of Robert Burns Lives!

Burns Night 2005

in Prestonpans, Scotland


Anne Christie, Director,

Burke’s Peerage & Gentry

When Burke’s Peerage & Gentry’s team received the Baron of Prestoungrange’s invitation to a Burns Supper at Prestonpans, we knew the evening would amount to more than a plate of haggis and a few poems.

Baron of Prestongrange

Readers of Burke’s Peerage & Gentry’s online magazine, Atavus, will be familiar with the history of Prestonpans and the work of the Prestoungrange Arts Festival, a regeneration initiative set up by the Baron of Prestoungrange which ‘seeks in as many ways as possible to share the history and create the future of the town through the Arts’.

Poets - J Lindsay and J Forster

The celebration began with a gathering outside ‘The Burns Shelter’ in Prestonpans to officially unveil the latest mural commissioned by The Prestoungrange Arts Festival. Piper Lindsay Davidson was in attendance, and following a welcome speech by the Baron, artist Kate Hunter guided guests through the planning and design stages of the artwork which tells the tale of Tam O’Shanter. Scots historians may recognise one or two faces in the mural as Kate chose to incorporate men who influenced Burns as well as characters from his poem.

The Mural and Artist Kate Hunter

Poet John Lindsay amused the crowd with one of his own poems, and Jim Forster of The Airt’s Burns Society spoke about the origins of the shelter which until recently had been damaged by vandals. With speeches over, a procession lead by the Prestonpans and District Pipe & Drums Band made its way down to the town’s Gothenburg pub for supper. The Gotherburg’s recently restored Arts and Crafts interior is adorned with artwork by contemporary Scots artists and provided a wonderful venue for a Burns evening.

Piper Lindsay Davidson

Pipers lead the way to the dining room and so began the traditional Burns celebrations of toasts, readings and, of course, whisky, ‘neeps and tatties. Guests stood as David Leckie piped in the haggis and Andrew Waddell gave a spirited rendition of ‘Address to a Haggis’. After dinner, Andrew delivered an informative and entertaining talk on Burns’ life and work. John Lindsay continued the theme with poetry and prose, and the ‘Toast to the Lassies’ was given by the Baron with a reply of thanks for good food, drink and company given in Gaelic by Carmel Daly.

Section of the Tam O'Shanter mural by Kate Hunter.  This scene depicts Tam drinking with friends, his disapproving wife sits top left, and in the top right Tam is seen riding his trusty horse Meg towards Alloway Kirk. [Click on it to get a larger view]

It was a wonderful evening with old friends and new acquaintances. Thank you to everyone at The Prestoungrange Arts Festival and the Gothenburg, especially Marketing Manager Adele Conn, Chef Andrew Laurie and Events Manager Steven Cross.

To find out more about the Prestonpans murals, the Prestoungrange History Series and The Airts Burns’ Society, visit or contact The Gothenburg, 227 High Street, Prestonpans, East Lothian. EH32 9BE Scotland, telephone (44) (0) 1875 819922.

Burke’s Peerage & Gentry is online at
(FRS: 2/08/2005)

Return to April/May 2005 Index page  |  Return to Robert Burns Lives Index Page


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