A NEW “Jacobite Trail” claiming to follow the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie has been labelled a joke for ignoring two major battles and other key locations.
The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, but it has been whitewashed from the the new trail along with the Battle of Falkirk Muir.
The trail has been organised by a combination of four major organisations who were given £40,000 of funding by VisitScotland.
But sites which are not owned by “partners” of the campaign are not included, meaning several key events from the Jacobite Rising are missed.
The Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust, who were not asked to join the venture, have slammed the snub as a “tragedy.” And the MPS Iain Gray, a former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, called the omission a “joke”.
The battle on September 21, 1745, was the first major victory for the Young Pretender’s army, with the Jacobite army going on to advance as far as Derby.
National Museums Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Royal Collection Trust and The National Trust have combined to create the trail of 25 locations throughout Scotland, which were significant to the Jacobites
But the Prestonpans battlesite is conspicuous by its absence and is “covered up” by a detailed map of locations in nearby Edinburgh.
Also ignored is the Battle of Falkirk Muir, fought on January 17, 1746, which was the last noteworthy Jacobite success.
Blair Castle, near Blair Atholl, which was occupied twice by the Jacobites during the campaign, is also ignored.
The Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust said: “The tragedy is that this initiative channels yet more resources into the sites which already have the greatest capacity to promote themselves, leaving indpendent sites out in the cold.
“Most regrettable perhaps, is the assertion that what is on offer follows in the footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie. It does not.
“It isn’t just Prestonpans and Falkirk, where the Prince again triumphed in 1746: the Jacobite ommissions include important places such as Blair Castle, the West Highland Museum, the Cameron Museum at Achnacarry, Thirlestane Castle, Traquair House, the list goes on.
“Hopefully it’s not too late to get back ona sensible course and when the website gears up in May, a more appropriate and supportive representation will occur.”
Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, said: “Frankly, a ‘Jacobite trail’ which does not include Prestonpans is just a joke.
“Some of the sites included have a pretty tenuous connection to the Jacobite rebellions compared to Prestonpans.
“It must be very dispiriting for the battlefield trust and others locally who have worked hard over the years to see this important historical site properly recognised, interpreteted and publicised to be ignored like this.
“East Lothian Council too have worked very hard to increase visitor numbers and support tourism, and now we have a publicly funded tourism initiative which manages to snub the county in spite of our having the key historical site here in East Lothian.
“VisitScotland owe us an explanation, and an apology.”
A spokeswoman for VisitScotland said: “On the Trail of Bonnie Prince is a targeted tourism marketing campaign. Its primary focus is on a selection of properties and collections retained by partner bodies.
“VisitScotland has supported the campaign through the VisitScotland Growth Fund, which supports collaborative tourism marketing projects.
“The partner organisations and VisitScotland recognise the number of other locations, sites, organisations and people with fascinating and relevant connections to the Jacobite story and VisitScotland will continue to direct visitors to a wider scope of inspiring information in addition to that featured in the Jacobite Trail.”
The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict in the Jacobite rising, which was the attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for the exiled House of Stuart.
The government troops loyal to the Hanoverian George II were outflanked and broke in the face of a highland charge.
Despite the initial success, the Jacobite forces were eventually defeated on 16 April 1746 at the Battle of Culloden.