Laura Cummings: Scots heritage the winner in fight for preservation

A Historic Scotland list of the nation's most important and iconic battlefields highlights ten around the Capital, writes Laura Cummings

THEY are the bloody battles that define Scotland's history, from the glorious victories to the humiliating defeats. Historic Scotland has produced a list of the country's most significant and iconic battlefields. The first phase of The Inventory of Historic Battlefields contains 17 sites which are considered to be of national importance. Among them are three East Lothian battle sites with a further seven nearby being considered for inclusion.

The inventory aims to highlight the historic significance of the areas to planning authorities making decisions which could affect the landscape.

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So what are the battlefields to make the final cut and which might soon be added to the list?

Sites included on inventory

• Battle of Dunbar II, September 3 1650: In July 1650 the English Parliament, expecting King Charles II of Scotland to initiate a Scottish-led campaign for the English crown, launched a pre-emptive invasion of Scotland.

The extremely bloody battle that followed cleared the way for Lord-General Oliver Cromwell's Parliamentarians to march on virtually unopposed to Edinburgh Castle following their rout of the Scottish Covenanters.

Despite the 11,000 English troops being heavily outnumbered by 22,000 Scots, only 30 of Cromwell's men died while 3000 Scots were killed and 10,000 captured.

The site of the battle is now used to extract limestone for the Lafarge Cement Company.

• Battle of Pinkie, September 10 1547: King Henry VIII of England wanted an alliance with Scotland and was anxious to have the infant Mary Queen of Scots betrothed to his son, the future Edward VI.

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He undertook a series of incursions into Scotland known as the 'Rough Wooing'.

The Duke of Somerset assembled an English army in Newcastle in 1547 and marched into the Borders of Scotland with 16,000 men. The Regent of Scotland at that time was the Earl of Arran and he allowed the English to advance as far as the River Esk.

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On September 9, the English approached from the east and camped at Prestonpans.

The following day saw the last great battle between the two kingdoms before they became united under the rule of a single monarch. It marked a dramatic Scottish defeat.

It is estimated that 10,000 Scots fell that day, with English losses said to be only 250.

• Battle of Prestonpans, September 21 1745: On July 25 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland to launch a Jacobite rebellion. The Hanoverian army under Sir John Cope gathered near the hamlet of Prestonpans to the east of the city.

A local Jacobite sympathiser surprised the Government forces by picking his way across a marsh during the night and attacking at dawn. It was a rare but famous victory for the Jacobites.

Casualties on both side were relatively light but 1600 government soldiers and their supplies were captured.

Sites being considered for inclusion

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• Battle of Athelstaneford 832: A battle between a raiding party made up of Picts under King Angus (Ununst or Hungus) and Scots led by Eochaidh, King of Dalriada, and a large contingent of Northumbrian Angles under the command of Athelstan, who were chasing the raiders.

• Battle of Carberry Hill, 15 June 1567: A confrontation between Mary Queen of Scots and an army of lords, led by James Douglas - Earl of Morton.

• Battle of Dunbar, April 27 1296.

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The battle of Dunbar was the first of a series of conflicts of the Wars of Scottish Independence.

• Battle of Linlithgow Bridge, September 4 1526: The battle was a product of the power vacuum created by the death of James IV at Flodden in 1513. James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, won the day against a force led by John Stewart, Earl of Lennox.

• Battle of Roslin, February 24 1303: The Battle of Roslin was a battle of the First War of Scottish Independence.

• Battle of Rullion Green, November 28 1666: A confrontation between the Covenanters and Sir Thomas (Tam) Dalyell in the Pentland Hills.

• Battle of Inverkeithing II, July 20 1651: The battle was fought in an area close to Pitreavie Castle during Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army's invasion of Scotland.