The original church in Athelstaneford was built in 1176 by Ada, wife of Henry Prince of Scotland, and mother of William the Lion. This continued to be the parish church until 1780 when a new church was erected. The church is open daily, and visitors are welcome to enter. One of the fine stained glass windows within the church (north transept) is of Scotland’s patron saint, St Andrew. On display is the richly decorated Book of the Saltire which chronicles the local origins of Scotland’s flag.
A walk along the pathways around the churchyard will reveal many fascinating memorials. Of particular interest is the gravestone on the western wall to Adam Skirving (1719-1803) who wrote “Hey, Johnny Cope”. This well known song tells of another East Lothian battle – the defeat of the Hanoverian Army under Sir John Cope by the Jacobites at Prestonpans on 21 September 1745. Most Scots will be familiar with the words of the chorus:
Hey! Johnnie Cope are ye waukin’ yet?
Or are your drums a-beatin’ yet?
If ye were waukin’ I wad wait,
Tae gang tae the coals i’ the morning.