The Third Statistical Account of Scotland - East Lothian
|THE PARISH OF PRESTONPANS
|By GEORGE M. MACKENZIE, M.A., with the help of the Rev.
R. N. BELL, B.D.; A. D. Low, Social Welfare Officer ; JAMES
ROWERRY, Burgh Surveyor ; and WILLIAM WRIGHT
|Geographical Background.- Prestonpans is one of the
smallest Coastal Plain, and most of it is flat or nearly so.
The highest point is just over 200 feet. There are no rivers,
only one small burn draining a former marsh on the inner margin
of the Coastal Plain, and another marking the western boundary.
The coastal strip, in which the town of Prestonpans is situated,
is a typical raised beach 25 feet above present sea level
backed by the steep slopes of former sea cliffs. Above this,
in the western two-thirds of the parish, there is a wider
raised beach 100 feet above sea level, and in the east a surface
covered with boulder clay. The soils vary from light loams
to heavy clays, in places some 16 feet deep, but are generally
of high agri- cultural value.
The underlying rocks belong to the Limestone Coal Group in
the east and the Upper Limestone Group in the west. Both consist
of sandstones and shales with bands of limestone, and in the
former there are valuable seams of coal. These strata are
crossed by a whinstone (dolerite) dyke running parallel to
the coast. It is exposed at several places on the Prestongrange
Estate and has at times been quarried for road metal. Along
the shore the rocks outcrop in a series of reefs which have
been given picturesque names by the inhabitants. Throughout
most of its length the strata are inclined to the west and
the reefs point in an easterly direction. It was probably
the presence of these low rocks which decided the site of
the original hamlet of Aldhammer or Althamer. The fishers,
no doubt finding that they formed natural quays for their
cobbles, built houses in the vicinity rather than slightly
further west or east.
There has not been much erosion during the last hundred years,
although at times heavy storms from the north or north-cast
have caused considerable damage to breakwaters and sea frontages.
The appearance of the beach has, however, suffered a distressing
change, as the sands have been covered