Heritage chiefs slam A9 upgrade at Killiecrankie Battlefield

Members of the Soldiers of Killiecrankie history group have welcomed the comments from Historic Environment Scotland. PIC: Contributed.
Members of the Soldiers of Killiecrankie history group have welcomed the comments from Historic Environment Scotland. PIC: Contributed.
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Scotland’s heritage chiefs have objected to plans to upgrade the A9 through Killiecrankie Battlefield in the Highlands.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has called for further archaeological work to be carried out at the site of the first Jacobite rising in 1689 before dualling of this stretch of road goes ahead.

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HES said the impact of the new road was likely to be “significant” with concerns that the knock on effects on the battlefield could be even greater given the lack of information surrounding the proposals.

Transport Scotland, which has already undertaken an archaeological survey at the site, has been asked to review the alignment of the proposed new road within the battlefield and the scale of two new lay-bys and a drainage pond.

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Ann MacSween, head of casework at HES, said: “We recognise that the upgrade of the A9 is a national infrastructure project identified in a number of plans and programmes of Scottish Ministers and accept the principle that the project proposal will follow the line of the existing A9 which already crosses the Killiecrankie Battlefield.

“However, we have recommended Transport Scotland undertakes further work to provide evidence confirming that the final route will have the least impact on the battlefield site.”

Campaigners have welcomed the comments from HES.

James Rattray, chairman of history group Soldiers of Killiecrankie, whose forefathers fought at the battle, said: “We are delighted to receive this news.

“Transport Scotland’s plans were very clearly not thought through properly. It was very obvious to anyone who has visited the battlefield and has any knowledge of the conflict, Transport Scotland were planning to cause massive damage to Killiecrankie Battlefield.

“We see this as winning a skirmish, but not the battle.”

The Battle of Killiecrankie was a significant victory for the Jacobites with supporters of James VII uniting under James Graham, Viscount “Bonnie” Dundee, to fight government troops led by General Hugh MacKay.

Losses were heavy on both sides. Although Jacobites won the engagement, Dundee was killed during the fight with the appetite for the rising fading soon afterwards.

Mr Rattray said Killiecrankie was one of the “best preserved Scottish battlefields” which still held a lot of information about the battle.

He added: “Killiecrankie marks a significant number of first and lasts. It was the first battle of the Jacobite wars; which started here and ended at Culloden in 1746.

“It is the battle where the hand grenade was first used on British soil.

“It is the battle where the devastating tactic, the Highland Charge was perfected and used so successfully by the Jacobite armies for the next 60 years.”

Transport for Scotland has been contacted for a comment.