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Battle cry to support Culloden world heritage site bid on anniversary of conflict

Culloden battle charge.
Culloden battle charge.

Election candidates are being urged today to support a bid for Culloden battlefield to become a world heritage site to defend the “cultural crown jewel” from developers.

On the 275th anniversary of the historic conflict, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has published a manifesto seeking increased protection for battlefield sites.

It includes a call for politicians to back its move to have Culloden join the likes of the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza as a UNESCO world heritage site.

In Scotland, it would also join the Antonine Wall; the Heart of Neolithic Orkney; New Lanark; the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; St Kilda and the Forth Bridge.

NTS said Culloden has been subject to multiple planning applications for residential and holiday accommodation on the battlefield, which contains the remains of many of those who fell on April 16 1746.

Planning ‘too weak’

Raoul Curtis-Machen, operations manager at Culloden, said: “Everyone wants to protect the cultural crown jewel that is Culloden Battlefield, but the existing planning mechanisms are too weak.

“We averaged more than 300,000 visitors a year pre-Covid, and we work hard to keep the battlefield open and accessible 24/7. Yet we are frequently surrounded by planning applications for developments, and we struggle to defend against them all.

Raoul Curtis Machen.

“Once development takes place on or right beside the battlefield, the fragile but powerful sense of place is shattered. Surely there is a strong, clear case for stronger legal protection for sites like this?”

As part of the 275th anniversary, NTS undertook the Culloden 300 consultation on how people wanted the battlefield to look in 2046.

Support for more battlefield protection

Around 3,000 people took part and results showed support to protect the battlefield’s unique atmosphere and importance as a place of history and remembrance.

Diarmid Hearns, head of public policy, risk and compliance at the ‎NTS, said world heritage site status would bring additional protection and a more sustainable approach to Culloden’s development.

Culloden Battlefield

The NTS manifesto also calls for political parties to include battlefields in the forthcoming National Planning Framework 4, which sets out a long-term plan for national development and infrastructure.

This week the Scottish Battlefields Trust also called for political parties to preserve and protect significant battle sites from development.

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