THE author behind the forthcoming science fiction TV series Outlander has joined the battle to stop homes being built near the site of the Battle of Culloden.
Award-winning American writer Diana Gabaldon said yesterday she finds it “incomprehensible” that developers were looking to build next to the site of the last battle to be fought on British soil.
The best-selling author, whose Outlander books are currently being made into a multi-million-pound TV series, filmed in Scotland, said she owed it to the men who had fought and died to take a stand against the controversial proposals for Viewhill, Balloch, just a few hundred yards from the battlefield and the Culloden monument.
Gabaldon said: “I find it incomprehensible that anyone who’d set foot there could contemplate such a crass intrusion.”
The Outlander series, which have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, centres on a time-travelling nurse from 1968 who ends up in 18th-century Scotland in the years before the Battle of Culloden.
A Scottish Government reporter is expected to confirm formal planning permission for the housing scheme this week.
Last year, Highland councillors rejected the proposal by Inverness Properties for 16 homes at Viewhill Farm at Culloden, east of Inverness, but the developer later won an appeal to the Scottish Government.
Protesters claim the move sets a dangerous precedent that could lead to more development around or on the site where the Jacobite rebellion was crushed in 1746. An online petition against the scheme has now gathered more than 12,600 signatures.
Gabaldon’s Scottish fans wrote to her after the building plans were approved at the end of last year.
She said: “I normally refrain from talking either politics or religion in public, particularly the politics of a country not my own, but this is a matter of history, heritage and respect for both.
“Having walked the battlefield at Culloden many times over the last 25 years, knowing what happened there and having felt the desperate sorrow of the place, I find it incomprehensible that anyone who’d set foot there could contemplate such a crass intrusion.”
She said she was honoured to have been invited to attend the opening of the new visitor centre at the site, and was intervening at the request of fans.
She said: “As the battle does occupy such a central place in my novels, when the new housing development began to be talked about and protested, I got any number of messages from Scottish readers about it.
“I try not to become involved in public controversy in areas where I might easily be seen as an interloper, but I have spent a lot of time at the Culloden battlefield and have talked to several of the curators and staff there.
“The battle wasn’t confined to the present-day boundaries of the field. It was fought well outside them. And when I heard more about the proposed housing project, I just felt that I owed the men who fought and fell there at least the respect of my name on a petition.”
Campaigners against the development welcomed her intervention.
Protest group spokesman Colin Williamson said: “Anybody with a high profile who supports us is good news.
“We are appalled at the proposition that the battlefield could be overshadowed by property development.”
Jim Crawford, councillor for Inverness South, said: “I think any intervention from any influential people has to be a good thing.
“With millions being spent on the production of this lady’s novels, can you imagine the impact it will have on this area? Millions will come to visit the battlefield and any blight on the area will be a terrible shame.”