Remembering the "orphan battle" of the Jacobite wars that left a pretty Scottish town in flames

Dunkeld was almost entirely destroyed following the 1689 battle which led to fierce fighting in the streets and the mass destruction of properties by arson. PIC: www.geograph.org/Mike Pennington.
Dunkeld was almost entirely destroyed following the 1689 battle which led to fierce fighting in the streets and the mass destruction of properties by arson. PIC: www.geograph.org/Mike Pennington.
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It is known as the "orphan battle" of the Jacobite risings given it has largely been forgotten and neglected.

Now, 330 years on, the Battle of Dunkeld is to be remembered with a special event in the town destroyed by the fierce fighting on August 21, 1689.

The 1745 Association, which works to increase understanding of the risings that attempted to restore the Stuart dynasty to the British throne, will lead a talk and tour through the streets that were ripped apart by brutal street-to-street fighting before being engulfed in flames.

Michael Nevin, chairman of The 1745 Association, said crucial questions remained about the battle.

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“There are, as the old song says, more questions than answers. This is certainly true of Dunkeld, the orphan battle - forgotten, neglected, fatherless, not belonging to any family - quite unlike any other battle fought during the Jacobite Wars," Mr Nevin said.

Both government forces and the Jacobites torched properties in the town in the last throws of the engagement, which some say lasted 11 hours.

One account noted how the din of war gave way to the "wild shrieks and accents of despair" which emerged from the dense mass of smoke and fire that took over the town.

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The association described the Battle of Dunkeld as unique given it was fought in an urban environment with only the Cathedral remaining today of the buildings that stood before 1689.

Dunkeld is considered to be an incredibly significant battle in the history of 17th century Scotland.

It was fought at a time when King William was yet to wholly solidify his position on the throne and on the back of a significant Jacobite victory at Killiecrankie.

After a long and bitter struggle in Dunkeld, the Jacobites withdrew, leaving the Government force the surprised victors.

Mr Nevin said there were many gaps in official records of the battle.

It remained unclear why the Cameronians were were deployed to the government side only three months after the regiment's formation and with no battle experience, he said.

He said he believed the Cameronians were viewed as unstable militant Presbyterians and suggested they were being set up to fail at Dunkeld.

He said: "The Williamites didn't seriously expect them to hold Dunkeld against the advancing Jacobites at all. Their mission was merely to blunt the Jacobite advance, softening them up while the main Williamite army prepared to meet the Highlanders at a more propitious location.

"And if the Cameronians were slaughtered during their defence of Dunkeld, that was deemed by those in authority to be a price worth paying.."

Tickets for the event on Saturday, August 17, which starts and finishes in the Perth Arms Hotel, Dunkeld, are available from www.eventbrite.co.uk