National Trust for Scotland in U-turn on Culloden Battlefield house
The National Trust for Scotland has performed a U-turn and now objected to plans to build a house within the historic boundary of Culloden Battlefield.
The conservation charity has lodged its opposition to the development at Culchunaig, which sits just on the south western fringes of the battlefield section owned by NTS and on land where soldiers fought in April 1746.
In November, the Scottish Government made an unprecedented move and blocked plans for a luxury steading conversion on the site given the “surbanising effect” it would have on the historic Culloden area.
NTS did not object to the luxury steading plan but has now opposed a scaled down, more traditional, proposal for the site.
Clea Warner, Highlands and Islands general manager for National Trust for Scotland, in an official objection, said the organisation “now realised” the high importance of the Culchunaig site given new and ongoing research.
She said: “We wish to object to the revised application, mainly on the grounds that this represents a threat to the historic character of Culloden Battlefield, in light of new and ongoing historic and archaeological research.
“In our previous response, we did not object because we misunderstood the full implications this application, and the impacts it could have on what we now realise is a very important part of the Battle of Culloden.
"All historians and archaeologists involved in researching the battle agree that this is land which was fought over during the battle, and as such there is much more for us to learn about this area, and the responsibility to protect it, as set out in our national policy.”
Ms Warner said research suggested the area played host to one of two pivotal ‘pincer’ movements which could have played a decisive role in the outcome of the battle.
Data from a laser scan, which was commissioned several years ago by a former general manager at the NTS centre and battlefield, is now being examined in a bid to strengthen the historical evidence relating to Culchunaig.
If ongoing research into the site confirmed the area’s “vital role” in the battle, NTS would like to open up the site to visitors. This would not be possible if the area was significantly developed, Ms Warner added.
She said any development in the area could “have a significant negative impact on the cultural and historical value of this site”.
Ms Warner added: "In conclusion, Culloden Battlefield is of enduring national significance.
“We consider that the proposed development should not be allowed because it could compromise the cultural and historical character of this part of the site before we understand its full significance.”
Andrew McKenzie, a former general manager at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre who now sits on the Historians’ Council on Culloden, said the NTS objectio and the analysis of the laser scan which he earlier comissioned, was “remarkably significant”.
He said: “It is wonderful to see the recognition of the significance of the damage that would be caused by allowing a development at Culchunaig on Culloden Battlefield, which has been recognised by the National Trust for Scotland. Their objection to the re-application after the original was rejected by Scottish Government ministers is incredibly significant in the process of protecting Culloden Battlefield’s wider boundary.”
NTS owns around one third of total battlefield area.