The Historians Council on Culloden (HCC) has distanced itself from the concept that World Heritage Status would protect the iconic battlefield from creeping encroachment by developers.
HCC says the only way to protect the greater battlefield site is ownership by a protective organisation which can hold it in trust forever.
Culloden Battlefield’s custodians, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), mooted the idea of applying for the coveted Unesco status at last month’s battle commemorations.
The charity called on stakeholders such as the Highland Council, Historic Environment Scotland, Visit Scotland and other interested organisations to come together to push for world heritage status for the site, saying it meets Unesco requirements as having universal value.
But HCC says that after full consideration, the designation, although desirable, would not necessarily protect the battlefield from development.
Deborah Dennison, a film maker who has made a lifelong study of the Jacobite period is a founder of HCC .
She said HCC members have extensive knowledge of World Heritage status and have considered all the advantages and limitations it would afford the battlefield, if granted.
She said: “World Heritage status is a powerful designation and one not easily achieved.
“Once awarded, Unesco keeps a keen surveillance on the sites and makes any violation of its protective status publicly known through warnings of loss of that status.
“However, as has been recently seen in a number of World Heritage sites, development can legally occur and the only repercussions of the violation is the loss of that status.
“Where economic pressures are intense enough, such as at the Tower of London or the city of Dresden, the decision has apparently been made to sacrifice the status for the economic gain.
“This could happen at Culloden.”
She went on: “The only guarantee of protection from future development of the greater battlefield of Culloden, from Viewhill Farm to Chulchunaig, and Blackpark Farm to Faebuie is ownership by a protective organisation which can hold it in trust in perpetuity.”
HCC and the Scottish Battlefields are currently working together to create such an entity which would work in cooperation with NTS she said.
Raoul Curtis-Machin, operations manager for Culloden said NTS would support any ideas to give more protection to the battlefield.
He said: “Of all possible designations, world heritage status is the most appropriate and would give the strongest level of protection, even though it may not guarantee it.
“Equally it would be stronger if you could buy up every bit of land from the multiple owners in the area and protect it in perpetuity.
“But there are no easy or quick solutions.”