New Battle of Bannockburn: Uproar over racetrack plans for historic site as ministers urged to step in

A new fight is taking place at one of Scotland’s most famous battlefields

Bannockburn has become a battlefield once again, coinciding with the 710th anniversary of Scottish King Robert the Bruce’ victory.

The country’s leading conservation charity has hit out over plans to build a new harness horse racing circuit at the iconic site, where one of the most famous battles in Scottish history was fought in 1314.

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An application has been submitted to Stirling Council, seeking permission to build a new trotting track, where harness racing competitions - where horses typically pull a two wheeled cart - would be held, along with parking for more than 200 cars, toilets and spectator areas on land that is part of the designated battlefield.

Internationally important heritage at risk

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has been managing Bannockburn Battlefield since 1943 and is tasked with its long-term care and protection.

Its Bannockburn visitor centre currently attracts thousands of visitors from home and abroad, as well as hosting dedicated school visits.

According to the charity, the proposed development risks damaging nationally and internationally significant heritage as well as negatively impacting the experience of the site for current and future generations.

The land near Bannockburn where Scottish King Robert the Bruce beat English King Edward II's army in 1314, during the first Scottish War of Independence, is a designated historic battlefield siteThe land near Bannockburn where Scottish King Robert the Bruce beat English King Edward II's army in 1314, during the first Scottish War of Independence, is a designated historic battlefield site
The land near Bannockburn where Scottish King Robert the Bruce beat English King Edward II's army in 1314, during the first Scottish War of Independence, is a designated historic battlefield site

NTS chiefs have written to the council, setting out their opposition to the race track – which would be sited on land to the west of New Line Road and south of Fairhill Road, at Whins of Milton – on the nationally designated battlefield.

They are also calling for Scottish ministers to block the development.

Bannockburn is much more than just a battlefield,” said Stuart Brooks, NTS director for conservation and policy.

“It is the location of one of the most pivotal moments in Scottish history, when Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, defeated the English army led by King Edward II.

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The National Trust for Scotland, which cares for Bannockburn Battlefield, has hit out at plans to build a horse-and-buggy racing circuit at the site of the iconic 1314 clash -- described as "one of the most pivotal places in Scotland’s history"The National Trust for Scotland, which cares for Bannockburn Battlefield, has hit out at plans to build a horse-and-buggy racing circuit at the site of the iconic 1314 clash -- described as "one of the most pivotal places in Scotland’s history"
The National Trust for Scotland, which cares for Bannockburn Battlefield, has hit out at plans to build a horse-and-buggy racing circuit at the site of the iconic 1314 clash -- described as "one of the most pivotal places in Scotland’s history"

“The landscape surrounding the battlefield was instrumental in helping Robert’s men beat their English rivals and ensuring the nation’s future.

“The location of the proposed development, at Whins of Milton, is in the vicinity of where Bruce’s army faced off against the vanguard of Edward’s army on the first day of the battle.”

Calls to block racetrack plans

It is close to the spot where the deadly duel between the Scottish king and English knight Sir Henry De Bohun is said to have taken place, and to Milton Bog, which formed a defensive screen for the western flank of Bruce’s army that would’ve assisted the Scots in securing victory.

“We are extremely disappointed that Stirling Council planning department is considering the proposal for a trotting track at the Whins of Milton site – on the nationally designated battlefield of Bannockburn and in the single remaining fragment that allows us to understand how the battle unfolded,” Mr Brookes added.

“Over previous decades much of the historic setting has been lost and we are deeply concerned about any new development that would encroach on this and further erode and degrade this iconic landscape.

“We are calling for the Scottish Government to step in and save Bannockburn Battlefield from this proposal to ensure the longevity of a site steeped in Scottish history.”

The NTS is objecting on several grounds, citing potential damage to the battlefield, visual impact, noise pollution and traffic issues.

More than 100 responses to the plans have already been lodged, with 34 objections and around 60 in support.

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