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Anger over Bothwell Bridge battle site building plan

Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters' Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. Picture: Contributed

Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters' Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. Picture: Contributed

  • by LOUISE DOUGLAS
 

A PLANNED housing development on the site of a 17th-century battlefield is an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives there, critics have said.

Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters’ Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. There are plans for 15 homes on the site of the 1679 Battle of Bothwell Bridge.

But the move has drawn fierce protests from objectors, who claim it would be an “act of desecration” at an important historic site.

Ten objections have been lodged so far, with some from as far afield as the United States.

Historian Professor Tom Devine, from Edinburgh University, is among the objectors. He said: “Covenanters’ Field is the last undeveloped section of the site of the Battle of Brig in 1679. It is a site of national, and not simply local or regional, historical importance.

“The battle brought to an end the series of Covenanter risings of the 17th century.

“To agree to the building over of the remaining untouched part of this historic battlefield would be to commit an act of desecration to the memory of those who died in defence of their religious beliefs.”

The battle of Bothwell Bridge was a major defeat for the Covenanter army, which opposed interference by the Stuart kings in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

The Covenanter army was led by Sir Robert Hamilton and gathered on the south bank of the River Clyde. The Duke of Monmouth headed a force of about of 5,000 government troops and initially tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but this was rejected.

Some 300 Covenanters, with a single cannon, held the bridge until a charge by mounted infantry saw the government forces take the position.

Objector Deanna Squires, from Colorado Springs in the US, said: “I was just made aware that there is a proposal to build 15 houses at Covenanters’ Field.

“As a tourist 20 years ago to this site, it saddens me to think that such a proposal is being considered. This is such a historic site.”

The proposal, under which homes worth between £395,000 and £995,000 would be built, comes after Cala withdrew an earlier plan in 2009 and had a another rejected in 2010.

Fresh plans have been lodged for eight different types of homes, with up to seven bedrooms and triple garages.

Documents state the homes would be built on generous plots and main roads would be widened to meet traffic needs.

The objectors do not include the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association, which is backing the proposal

In a statement, a spokesman said: “I am pleased to confirm the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association supports the planning application to South Lanarkshire Council for the development of Covenanters’ Field for housing and Covenanters Heritage Park.”

A spokesman for Cala Homes said: “A large portion of the site is currently being used as grazing ground for animals (horses) and the public has no access to it.

“Working with the support of the Covenanters Memorial Association our proposal includes the construction of the Covenanters Heritage Park which will be a fitting memorial to the village’s rich heritage and will help to educate the public on the battle of Bothwell Bridge.”

The council has until 12 September to reach a decision.

 

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