EAST Lothian has a long history stretching back over two millennia, as evidenced by standing stones found across the county.

Remains of early settlements are the hill forts along the edge of the Lammermuirs, but the largest was Dunpender (fort of staves) in Traprain. Primal forest still covered lower elevations, so foothills and hilltops were optimal places to live.

Their builders were Celtic people, speaking a cumbric dialect of Old Welsh – as did most people south of here. When the Romans crossed Hadrian’s Wall around 70AD in search of gold, tin and glory, they found a powerful tribe occupying Lothian and the Borders. They called themselves ‘Goddodin’. The Romans named them ‘Votadini’. Respecting their beautiful craftsmanship, warrior traditions and powerful hill forts, they cultivated them as trading partners and friends.

So East Lothian was left in peace. The line of Roman advance required forts at Melrose and Inveresk, connected by Dere Street (now the A68) between. Peace was cemented by gifts, as evidenced by a cache of silver known as the Traprain Hoard, found on the hill last century and now displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

By the sixth century, Angles were exploiting the Roman evacuation of 410AD, founding aggressive kingdoms that fused into Northumbria, thrusting north from Bamburgh.

About 300 Goddodin warriors then trained for a year to retaliate. Marching south to meet the threat, they reached Catterick before being overwhelmed.

Their story is celebrated in the poem Y Goddodin, the oldest surviving text in Welsh in the Book of Aneirin. The Welsh heartland began referring to their now isolated kinsmen here as Hen Ogledd or the Old North.

Among the last kings was Loth, for whom the county is named.

For disgracing him, he banished his pregnant daughter Thanew, setting her adrift on the Forth.

She survived, landing in West Fife, and her son grew up to become St Mungo, the founder of Glasgow, and after whom Mungoswells, west of Drem, may be named.

By the eighth century, Brythonic power here had waned. Strathclyde to the west fell after Dumbarton was stormed by the Vikings.

A combination of Viking raids and unceasing pressure from Scots and Picts from the west and north meant Northumbria could extend its power base here. This is the origin of our many English place-names.

Despite 852’s Battle of Athelstaneford, we remained part of England for some 200 years until 1059’s Battle of Carham pushed the border back south.