Battles That Made Scotland; List Seeks to Preserve Historic Sites for Nation

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim McBeth

THEY were bloody clashes fought for freedom, in the name of God, or merely to satisfy the dynastic ambitions of those who coveted power and wealth.

But no matter the reasons, however noble, misguided, or self-serving, they are the battles that define Scotland's history - from those we have probably never heard of to those which are to this day writ large in the Scottish psyche.

Now Historic Scotland has issued its first 'inventory' of 17 battlefields considered to be of national importance.

Battles included so far start with Bannockburn in 1314, when Robert the Bruce won Scotland's freedom in the Wars of Independence.

The inventory continues through Henry VIII's War of the Rough Wooing, including the battles of Ancrum Moor (1545) and Pinkie (1547).

The list also covers the Jacobite Risings, from Killiekrankie in 1689, Sheriffmuir in 1715 and Glenshiel in 1719, through to the battles of the '45 at Prestonpans, Falkirk and Culloden.

The inventory is part of a campaign to interpret, manage, promote and preserve the iconic sites for future generations.

It is designed to help local planning authorities and public bodies, which will be required to take the battlefields into account if they are likely to be affected by decisions about the landscape surrounding them.

A similar register of battlefields introduced in England in 1995 has led to a major rethink on conservation laws.

A Historic Scotland spokesman said: 'The aim is to take their historical and archaeological significance into account and to realise the positive contributions that battlefields can make to our environment.'

From today until February 11, everyone in Scotland will have the opportunity to comment on the list, which will be added to in March.

People living within the area of the battlefields already listed will receive a leaflet within the next few weeks, informing them of the proposals.

Minister for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: 'Many battles took place in Scotland and the famous figures that fought in them, such as Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn and Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden, are known around the world.

'Battlefields make a distinctive contribution to our sense of place and history. They are a wonderful resource.

'Not only do they form an important part of our identity, they have enormous potential for attracting tourists, allowing visitors to experience the site of a dramatic historical event.

'Battlefields are a fragile, finite resource and we want to make sure they are looked after for future generations.'

Dr Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University, said: 'This has been a challenging, rewarding project. We have an incredible wealth of battlefields.'

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