Culloden won’t be protected by World Heritage status, say historians

A clan grave at Culloden. Around two thirds of the entire battlefield falls outwith the site managed by National Trust for Scotland and is vulnerable to development. PIC: Jane Barlow.
A clan grave at Culloden. Around two thirds of the entire battlefield falls outwith the site managed by National Trust for Scotland and is vulnerable to development. PIC: Jane Barlow.
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Historians have claimed that securing World Heritage status for Culloden Battlefield won’t be enough to protect it from developers.

Applying for the coveted status for the battlefield is one option being considered by National Trust for Scotland given a number of recent attempts to develop within its historic boundary.

The Historians Council on Culloden said that while winning the status would be desirable, it wouldn’t be enough to fend off future encroachments onto the site.

READ MORE: Radical plans emerge to buy up Culloden on ‘behalf of nation’

The council also believes that recent developments at Culloden, including the 16 new homes which some historians claims have been built on a war grave around 400 yards north of the main battlefield centre, could hamper any attempt to secure the status.

READ MORE: The Jacobites who fought on after Culloden

A statement from the historians council said: “The Historians’ Council on Culloden has considered all the advantages and limitations which the status, if achieved, would afford the battlefield.

“In brief, though the designation would be desirable, it will not protect the battlefield from development.”

Scotland currently has six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Forth Bridge, St Kilda and Edinburgh Old and New Town.

Dr Christopher Duffy, author of several books on the Jacobites and the 1745 rising, said UNESCO, which awards World Heritage Status, surveilled the sites with any violation of its protective status leading to that status being withdrawn.

Since 2007, for example, UNESCO has threatened to withdraw the status from the Tower of London given the increasing number of skyscrapers that threaten the historic setting of the 11th Century fortress.

Dr Duffy added: “Where economic pressures are intense enough, such as at the Tower of London or the city

of Dresden, the decision has apparently been made to sacrifice the status for the economic gain.

“The only recourse UNESCO has in the face of such destructive activity is withdrawal of the status. This could happen at Culloden.”

Dr Duffy said UNESCO put great emphasis on the “general ambience of a site”.

He added: “ The city of Dresden is the only site so far deprived of its WH status, but the list of sites under warning notice includes Vienna, the Tower of London, Liverpool waterfront and Edinburgh New Town.

“Recent encroachment on Culloden battlefield with the housing development and a new, bright white, massive agricultural building right at Stable Hollow, where the Jacobite battle lines were formed, may already disqualify the battlefield from achieving this status.”

Dr Duffy said the only guarantee for the battlefield was to buy up the remaining parcels of land where the British Army defeated the Jacobites on April 16, 1746.

Around two thirds of the battlefield lies outwith the site owned and managed by National Trust for Scotland.

Dr Duffy added: “The only guarantee of protection from future development of the greater battlefield of is ownership by a protective organization which can hold it in trust in perpetuity.

“The Historians’ Council on Culloden and the Scottish Battlefields

Trust are currently working together to create such an entity, which would work in cooperation with the National Trust For Scotland.”

Earlier, Dr Arran Johnston of the Scottish Battlefield Trust announced plans to launch a worldwide fundraiser to buy up the entire battlefield on behalf of the nation.

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