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Charity urges protection for battlefields ahead of Culloden anniversary

Culloden battlefield
Culloden battlefield

A charity has taken up the fight to save the historic Culloden battlefield from future development as the 275th anniversary of the conflict is about to be marked.

The Scottish Battlefields Trust (SBT) is urging Scotland’s political parties to include in their election manifestos pledges to preserve and protect significant battle sites.

It cites “recurring threats” to Culloden from proposed housing and other developments as an example of the need to safeguard locations.

SBT wants similar protection for Scottish battlefields as that given to historic sites in the US.

It has called for a battlefield acquisition fund to support the purchase of protected sites, and separate funds for research into the history of battlefields and to pay for interpretation technology, as well as educational visits.

Under threat of inappropriate development

SBT chairman Herbert Coutts said: “We are careful to preserve historic artefacts, archives and books for what they can tell us about Scotland’s past. Yet the sites of battles that shaped our national story and character remain under threat of inappropriate development.

“We call on our political leaders to pledge to protect our historic battlefields, and we have suggested how they can do it.”

In February, Highland councillors turned down plans to redevelop a 19th century steading at Culchunaig, Westhill, south west of the battlefield, into a luxury home.

The land is within both the Culloden Moor Conservation Area and the Inventory of Historic Battlefields area.

The decision was welcomed by battlefield guardians the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) which objected to the plans.

Outlander author interview

An NTS spokeswoman said: “Our conservation charity completely agrees that Scotland’s battlefields need more protection.”

Its manifesto, which includes similar proposals, will be unveiled this week.

The issue will also feature in an online event to mark the Culloden anniversary and include an appearance from Outlander author Diana Gabaldon.

Diana Gabaldon

Raoul Curtis-Machin, operations manager of Culloden Battlefield, will take part in the event for Inverness Outlanders, an online monthly show produced by MacGregor’s Bars in Inverness. Ms Gabaldon will provide an exclusive interview for the show.

Co-host Bruce MacGregor said: “To get an exclusive interview with the woman who has brought the story of Culloden to the world is incredible. Her books have sold over 25 million, and although the story may involve time-travel, her dedication and attention to the true history of events is quite amazing.”

Meanwhile, a sold-out event tonight will involve former battlefield manager Andrew Grant McKenzie delivering an online lecture on “the interaction between tourism, research and conservation at Culloden Battlefield, 1746-2021”.

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