Books and Publications

A History of Dunbar Swords, Loaves & Fishes

Author Roy Pugh has brought to life the history of Dunbar in this comprehensive collection of historical information about the royal borough of Dunbar, which sits on the East Coast of Scotland and has been the site of many nationally important conflicts.

Chapters included in the History of Dunbar (Swords, Loaves & Fishes):

– History of Dunbar Castle & the Earls of Dunbar

– History of the Church pre and post reformation

– Forgotten writers of Dunbar

– Selected trade, industry and commerce

– Military History of Dunbar from 18th-20th Century

– Health and Social Welfare

– Dunbar as a holiday resort

– Nearby Lammermuir Hills

The original release of Swords, Loaves and Fishes was hugely popular both nationally locally with copies unavailable, which has led to the repress and updating of this book. This book offers you the chance to own a comprehensive guide to the history of Dunbar.

For Retail & Wholesale Enquiries please contact me

“Thus Dunbar’s iconic High Street evolved into what we recognise today”

Dunbar is a rich topic for an author and historian as such Roy has available a selection of his projects as bite sized booklets, perfect for researchers, gifts or locals wishing to know more about their town.

A series of booklets on certain aspects of Dunbar’s history have been published since 2011, offering visitors to the town and residents alike glimpses of key subjects over several centuries.

These are as follows:

Booklet No 1

Dunbar: A Famous Castle and the Story of Black Agnes

Describes the development of Dunbar’s castle from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, it being one of the first stone built fortifications in Scotland and possibly East Lothian. The history of the castle between c.1244 and 1567 illustrates how it affected Scottish history during a turbulent period until it was finally dismantled on the orders of the Scottish parliament in 1568. The booklet also features the famous siege of the castle by Agnes Randolph, the 9th Earl of Dunbar’s redoubtable Countess against Edward III’s army between January and June 1388.

Booklet No 2

Dunbar: An Ancient Royal Burgh

Charts the rise of Dunbar as a royal burgh from the year of its elevation from a Burgh of Barony – ie controlled by the Earls of Dunbar – to a Royal or King’s Burgh by David II’s charter of 1370. The booklet spans six centuries until Local Government reorganization in 1975 which abolished town councils like Dunbar. Over the centuries, the improvements to the community by the town council include the development of Lammerhaven (the Old or Cromwell Harbour) in the sixteenth century, the opening of the New or Victoria Harbour in 1844, both vital to fishing and sea-going trade, the introduction of a clean water supply in 1766, street lighting, paving of the town’s High Street and the creation of a grain market at the Corn Exchange in 1857 – all of which contributed to the town’s economy and well-being. Also included is a list of shops trading at regular intervals between 1832 and 1882, then 1901 and 2011. This information may assist those interested in their family tree over the period.

Booklet No 3

Dunbar: A Garrison Town and Casualties of Three Wars

Traces the military presence in and around Dunbar over the period 1772 to 1950. Of particular interest is the founding and occupation of Castle Park Barracks (Lauderdale House) and the New Inn Barracks (High Street) by the War Department in 1855, housing militia units, then regiments of the regular British Army from 1914 to 1950. The presence of the military in Dunbar for over a century was of great benefit to the town’s economy. Also of interest are lists of casualties of the South African (Second Boer) War 1899-1902, the Great or First World War and the Second World War. The author has made every attempt to establish the rank, regiment and date of death of most of the casualties. Of specific interest is the list of infantry, cavalry and artillery stationed at Dunbar between 1772 and 1950; this information will be of interest to those whose relatives were stationed at Castle Park Barracks between 1914 and 1945.

Booklet No 4

Dunbar: Three Harbours, Fishing and Sea Trade

Traces the development of Dunbar’s harbours from the first natural haven at Belhaven, then the first purpose-built harbour at Lammerhaven (The Old or Cromwell Harbour) in the sixteenth century, then the New or Victoria Harbour which opened in 1844. The booklet investigates the development of the herring industry (the annual Dunbar Drave or harvest), the short-lived whaling industry and sea-going trade both coastal and international in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Booklet No 5

Dunbar: A Kirk Chronicle

Examines the history of Dunbar Parish Church between the twelfth and twentieth centuries, including its status as a pre-Reformation Collegiate Church between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The booklet discusses kirk discipline and records actual cases of contravention of kirk discipline and penalties for breaching it – practices such as fishing on Sundays, failure to attend divine service on the Sabbath, frivolous pursuits frowned upon by the kirk fathers and sexual misconduct within and outwith marriage between the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The provision of parish relief to the poor is also examined, citing actual cases. A section on early graveyards and the modern cemeteries is included, covering the measures taken by the kirk authorities to prevent unlawful exhumation of corpses by the resurrectionists in the nineteenth century. Some of the grave monuments of prominent residents of Dunbar are also detailed.

Booklet No 6

Dunbar: The Battles of 1296 and 1650

Describes the events leading up to and an account of the two battles fought near Dunbar, the first occurring in 1296 which heralded the beginning of the long, dour Wars of Independence between Scotland and England. An account of the battle of 1650 between Oliver Cromwell and the Scottish Covenanter army led by David Leslie also discusses the fate of about 4,000 Scottish soldiers force-marched from Dunbar to Durham where many hundreds died of malnutrition and disease while in captivity there.

Booklet No 7

Dunbar: Famous Visitors, Residenters and Induellars

Traces the early, anonymous visitors to Dunbar from the Mesolithic Age or Period (10,000-5,000 BC), the Bronze Age (2,000-750 BC) the Iron Age (780 BC to 500 AD) and the Anglian occupation (638 AD to 1018 AD). Recorded history from 1066 onwards provides details of individuals who visited, were natives of or who made their homes in Dunbar are also included, not all of whom made positive contributions to the wellbeing of the community!


Roy has published seven titles between 2001 and 2013. These are as follows:

The Deil’s Ain (The Devil’s Own): The Story of Witch Persecution in Scotland (1563-1727)


Published 2001

The Scotland of the sixteenth to the early eighteenth centuries was a dangerous place to live. Superstition was rife among the common people, a characteristic exploited by unscrupulous People, including the authorities of the Church of Scotland reformed in 1560 from Roman Catholicism. The Kirk pursued its extreme form of Calvinism (Presbyterianism) with fanatical zeal. It turned particular attention on those who were suspected of practising witchcraft (witches and warlocks); the diktat in Exodus Chapter 22 Verse 18 ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ became the Eleventh Commandment in Scotland. Between 1563 and 1727, between 3,500 and 4,500 women and men were put to death for the imaginary crime of Witchcraft; in England, with a population ten times that of Scotland, the figure was 1,500. The Deil’s Ain follows the development of the witch hunt north of the Border, listing over 2,000 victims. Readers may find their own names in the list; this may suggest that an ancestor was perhaps burnt as a witch!

Swords, Loaves and Fishes: A History of Dunbar


Published 2003

A major work which took ten years to research and three years to write, this is the first History of Dunbar since 1830. It is a comprehensive and in-depth study of Dunbar and its Environs from earliest times to the present day. The title is deliberate; ‘Swords’ covers the military aspects (Dunbar Castle, Dunbar Barracks, battles and other conflicts); ‘Loaves’ deals with the agricultural revolution in a very productive farming district; ‘Fishes’ covers the fishing industry, particularly the annual Herring drave or harvest, the htree harbours, sea trade and so forth; and ‘Loaves and Fishes’ conveniently includes the religious orders, churches and in particular the Church of Scotland and its control of the population – witch hunting, Kirk discipline for misdemeanours, fornication trials and so on. These are by no means exhaustive topics in the book; there are other subjects such as education, trade and industry, social commentaries as well as investigations of the past ages – Mesolithic, Bronze, Iron, Roman-Iron, Dark, Middle and modern Ages and how these impinged on Dunbar. There are fascinating aspects of the part the town played in Scotland’s history, including several firsts, including the first medal to be struck for ordinary soldiers (battle of Dunbar 1650), among the very first towns and before Edinburgh to introduce street lighting, first town in Scotland to possess a lifeboat (1808) years before the RNLI., first town to recommend the introduction of decimal currency (mid 19th century) and others. Swords, Loaves and Fishes has been described as the most comprehensive history of a small Scottish town ever published. (Out of print)

Penny for the Gas: Growing up in Dunbar in the 1940s and 1950s


Published 2006

The book encapsulates memories of the author’s happy childhood. Readers throughout the UK will be familiar with the street games, street rhymes included in this story of many moods – nostalgic, romantic, decidedly humorous and on occasion downright rude! There are descriptions of and references to what today would be deemed not politically correct but the aim of the book is to portray life in a small Scottish town, things as they were nearly 70 years ago. It is an account of what was happening in a world observed by a young, developing mind, with all its prejudices, ignorance and painful discoveries. We all know how complex and often traumatic that world can be, with not only warts but acne as well!

Off the Wall Art in Prestonpans


Published 2008

Roy shares this publication, a compendium of scripts of plays by acclaimed playwrights John Lindsay, Andrew Dallmeyer and Ian Nimmo. Roy’s contribution is a trilogy of witch plays depicting actual witch trials in East Lothian and Edinburgh. Roy’s three plays are entitled Witch! And deals with the confessions of Prestonpans dwellers Agnes Kelly and Marjorie who were executed in 1678; The Cauldron, a play about 8 Prestonpans witches who met their deaths; and The Devil’s Craft, a play about the infamous North Berwick Witches, a coven of between 120 and 140, 50 of which came from Prestonpans. Led by Francis Hepburn, 5th Earl of Bothwell, the coven was accused of making an attempt on the life of King James VI in 1589-90. Five of the six ringleaders went to the stake, along with countless others. Other plays in this compendium are The Battle of Pots and Pans by Andrew Dallmeyer, The Greening of David Balfour (Kidnapped) by Ian Nimmo, Alan Breck, The Man With the Belt also by Ian Nimmo and a series of poems by John Lindsay entitled This Poet’s Angst.

The White Rose and the Thorn Tree


Published 2008

Roy’s first attempt at a historical novel, although it is more of a drama-documentary as the majority of the characters are historical figures who speak for themselves rather than the author’s approach to them. The White Rose follows the arrival of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) in Scotland in July 1745 to head the last Jacobite Rebellion. The events are seen through the eyes of a young Highlander Roderick MacDonald from South Uist and Major John Whittle sent from England to spy on Sir John Cope until he is killed at the battle of Prestonpans. The book charts the progress of the Highland army in England and the retreat from Derby, culminating in the battles of Falkirk (a Jacobite victory) Then the tragic defeat at Culloden in 1746.

Wingate Pasha: The Life of General Sir Francis Reginald Wingate (1861-1953)


Published 2011

Many people interested in military history have heard of the name Wingate, chiefly Orde Charles Wingate , defender of the Jewish settlers in Palestine, then Emperor Heile Selassie in Abyssinia against Mussolini in the early Second World War and most famously, as founder of the Chindits, who operated behind the Japanese lines in Burma in 1944-45. Less is known of his great or second cousin Francis Reginald Wingate, a Victoria soldier -statesman who was Lord Kitchener’s spymaster during the campaign to recover the Sudan from the Dervishes led by the Mahdi between 1885 and 1898, culminating in the decisive battle of Omdurman. For his bravery and resourcefulness, Reginald (Rex) Wingate was appointed Governor General of the Sudan and Sirdar (Commander) of the Egyptian army between 1889 and 1917. Wingate Pasha examines his career in the Sudan, which he loved and strove to improve both economically and socially. During the Great War, he master-minded the Arab Revolt against Turkish domination in Saudi Arabia, although his subordinate T E Lawrence (of Arabia) received the credit for this achievement. Appointed High Commissioner of Egypt in 1917, Wingate repeatedly asked the British government of the day to clarify its status as a British Mandated territory as Whitehall had promised to give Egypt her independence in exchange for support during the Great War. Despite his efforts, Wingate was sacked in 1919 and retired from public service as First Baron Wingate of the Sudan, the most highly decorated officer in the British Army. He made his home in Dunbar and spent the remainder of his life as a businessman, chiefly managing companies in Africa and the Belgian Congo, for which he received the African Star medal. Wingate Pasha is the first biography of the man who came to Dunbar for its excellent golf course; he never held public office again after 1919 but contributed much to his adopted home’s public life – he was involved in the RNLI and the British Legion, donating money to various charities. On his death, he received a full military funeral, honoured not only by those who knew him in Dunbar but in the Middle East. A ‘must read’ for students of the Middle East between 1885 and 1919.

The Killing Fields of Scotland AD 83 to 1746


Published 2013

Most people who enjoy reading about Scotland’s history are familiar with the iconic Battlefields of Bannockburn and Culloden but these are but two of the many conflicts fought on Scotland’s soil during its long and colourful history. Killing Fields begins during the Roman-Iron Age with the battle of Mons Graupius between the legions of Agricola and the Pictish hordes led by Calgacus in AD 83. The book then travels through the so-called Dark Ages, covering the battles between AD 603 to 1000 AD which includes the battle of Dun Nechtain or Dunnichen Moss, known to the Angles of Northumberland as Nechtansmere and fought between the Anglian king Ecgfrith and the Pictish king Bredei mac Bili (AD 685) and the iconic battle of Athelstaneford (AD 832) fought between the Scottish- Pictish army of Echoiad and Oengus and the Northumbrian king Athelstan. It was during this Battle that the saltire appeared in the sky and became Scotland’s national flag. After the Dark Ages came the Middle Ages and the Wars of Independence, with the battles of Dunbar, Stirling Bridge and Wallace against Edward I, then Falkirk and the several battles of Robert the Bruce until Bannockburn vanquished Edward II. The independence struggle continued into the 16th century, then the English Civil Wars and the battle of Killiecrankie, followed by Dunbar (1650) and Inverkeithing after which Scotland became part of Cromwell’s Protectorate and Commonwealth. The final period came in the 18th century with the conflicts of the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715, 1719 and 1745. The ’45 ended the Jacobite Bid for supremacy at Culloden in 1746 which broke the Clan system and all that it meant. The Killing Fields cover no fewer than 88 conflicts; it has been described as a handy reference book for students of Scotland’s history.