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Eleven iconic battle sites protected by Historic Scotland inventory

  • by GEORGE MAIR
 

THEY may not have been on the scale of Bannockburn or Culloden but 11 new Scottish battlefields have won official protection for their importance to the nation.

The sites complete a project run by the government’s Historic Scotland agency to save historic battlegrounds from development. They include the Battle of Blar-na-Leine from 1544, in which two clans clashed in bloody conflict in the Great Glen, and the Battle of Langside, south of Glasgow, in 1568 after which the defeated Mary, Queen of Scots left Scotland for the last time.

Inclusion on Historic Scotland’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields – two phases have already been completed – means the cultural significance of a site must be taken into account when any plans are put forward for the area in future. Some sites have been damaged by inappropriate development in the past.

The country’s most famous battle sites were considered for inclusion over the last three years with the final 11 of 39 to be announced today.

The latest additions cover from 1296 to 1644 and include the inventory’s earliest battle, at Dunbar in 1296, when the invading English army of King Edward I routed the Scots. They also include the 1488 Battle of Sauchieburn, near Stirling, where James III was killed.

At The Battle of Blar-na-Leine – “The Battle of the Shirts” – Clan Donald and Clan Cameron fought Clan Fraser and men from Clan Grant in the Great Glen at the northern end of Loch Lochy. Legend states the weather was so hot men threw off their plaids and fought in shirts.

At Langside, the newly-abdicated Mary’s army fought the forces of her Protestant half-brother, the Earl of Moray. Mary’s army was routed and she fled, never to return.

Historic Scotland commissioned the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, at Glasgow University, to research and consult on up to 50 sites for inclusion in the inventory.

Dr Iain Banks, who carried out research along with Dr Tony Pollard, said: “The Inventory of Scottish Battlefields is the first time that Scotland’s iconic battlefields have been given any protection.

“These sites preserve the last traces of historical events that shaped the nation of Scotland through history, and there is no substitute for visiting the battlefields for understanding what happened in each battle.

“The battles of Scottish history have been preserved in legends, poems and songs, and are a unique resource. There is never any difficulty persuading people of the importance of a site; the most difficult job has been explaining why individual battlefields have not made it onto the inventory.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “It is a real achievement to research so many of Scotland’s most famous battles to the extent we can provide 
a level of protection to 39 ­battlefield sites. Our historic battlefields draw tourists from all over the world and represent a huge educational resource.”

Famous battles that didn’t make the list include the bloody Mons Graupius, fought in AD 83 or 84, when a Roman army routed more than 30,000 Caledonians. No-one knows exactly where it took place, with suggested sites ranging from Dunning in Perthshire to Carpow in Fife, Bennachie in Aberdeenshire and Culloden in the Highlands.

Hyslop added: “As the inventory has legal weight the cri­teria for inclusion are very strict and there are some ­famous battles that could not be included.”

39 sites: the inventory in full

Phase one: Alford (1645); Ancrum Moor (1545); Auldearn (1645); Bannockburn (1314); Bothwell Bridge (1679); Culloden (1746); Dunbar II (1650); Dupplin Moor (1332); Falkirk II (1746); Glenshiel (1719); Harlaw (1411); Killiecrankie (1689); Kilsyth (1645); Philiphaugh (1645); Pinkie (1547); Prestonpans (1745); Sheriffmuir (1715).

Phase two: Barra (1308); Carbisdale (1650); Cromdale (1690); Drumclog (1679); Fyvie (1645); Inverkeithing II (1651); Inverlochy II (1645); Linlithgow Bridge (1526); Mulroy (1688); Rullion Green (1666); Stirling Bridge (1297).

Phase three: Blar-na-Leine (1544); Dunbar I (1296); Dunkeld (1689); Glen Livet (1594); Inverlochy I (1431); Langside (1568); Loudoun Hill (1307); Roslin (1303); Sauchieburn (1488); Skirmish Hill (1526); Tippermuir (1644).

 

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