Heritage chiefs object to new home on 'sensitive' area of Culloden Battlefield

Heritage chiefs have objected to plans for a new house on Culloden Moor on land where the Government cavalry may have gathered before the 1746 battle.

The site for the proposed new home sits to the east of the historic battlefield boundary at Culloden. PIC: Herbert Frank/Creative Commons/Flickr.
The site for the proposed new home sits to the east of the historic battlefield boundary at Culloden. PIC: Herbert Frank/Creative Commons/Flickr.

Historic Environment Scotland said it would not support the plans for the development at Tannach Cottage, which sits on a "sensitive" site within the historic boundary of Culloden Battlefield.

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The application is the third recent controversial bid to develop part of the wider Culloden battlefield area and it is the first one of these that HES has objected to.

The proposed site for development is next to the B851 at Tannach Farmhouse, near Leanach Quarry, which sits to the east side of the battlefield boundary and to the southeast of the NTS visitor centre.

A letter from HES to Highland Council, which is currently assessing the application, said: "We object to this application because we do not believe that planning permission in principle is appropriate for proposals in a sensitive part of the designated Battle of Culloden Battlefield."

HES said there was a 'small possibility' that remains associated with the Battle of Culloden, which was fought on April 16, 1746 between the British Army and Jacobite forces, could be found on the site.

A metal detecting survey of the land has been requested by the heritage body.

The letter from HES added: "The information currently available suggests that the development site lies close to where the Government cavalry on left flank formed up prior to their advancing on and through the Culwhiniac and Leanach enclosures.

"The exact location is currently unknown, however, and there is a possibility that the line crossed over the development site. There is also a small possibility of other remains associated with the aftermath of the battle in this area.

"Further research may help clarify whether or not this was the initial line and the contribution that this site may have to the understanding of events during the battle."

HES added that the development site lies "considerably behind" the main fighting area and is separated from the core battlefield by the NTS centre.

However, how the proposed new home could look from the battlefield was not yet clear, given a lack of detail on the plans or how they would fit into the landscape.

HES said it might be possible to screen a modestly sized dwelling house on the site, should it emerge that it was not where the cavalry line formed on the day of the battle.

The letter added: " As this is an application for planning permission in principle it is understandable that insufficient information has been provided at this stage to fully ascertain the level of impact upon the battlefield.

"Given the sensitivity of the location, we do not believe that planning permission in principle is appropriate.

"We have concluded that further information will be necessary to allow both ourselves and your Council to determine the potential impact."

Earlier this month, Highland Council rejected proposals to build a holiday park and restaurant at the old Treetops Stables at Faiebuie, Culloden Moor, with campaigners working to protect the historic area declaring victory in their battle to halt developments around the core battlefield.

HES did not object to these proposals.

Meanwhile, 16 new homes are nearing completion at Viewhill Farm, which some historians have claimed is a 'war grave' given the contact made in the area during the battle.

HES did not object to these proposals, which were for a site within the Culloden Muir Conservation Area.

As controversy builds around the protection of Culloden Battlefield, discussions are underway between the Scottish Battlefields Trust and the Historians Council on Culloden to launch a worldwide fundraiser to buy up land on the fringes of the core battlefield managed by National Trust for Scotland.

Around two thirds of the battlefield falls outwith this protected area and is vulnerable to the ambitions of private landowners.

A spokeswoman for Historic Environment Scotland last night commented on the application for Tannach.

A statement said: "A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland said: “The application received for Tannach Farmhouse on Culloden Moor was a Planning in Principle application. We objected to the application as it did not supply the necessary information required for us to determine the impact that the proposals would have on the Culloden Battlefield.”