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Celebrating Scotland's battlefields

13 December 2010

Historic Scotland has issued a list of Scotland’s important battlefields, to be known as ‘The Inventory of Historic Battlefields’.  

The first phase of the Inventory contains 17 battlefields considered to be of national importance for the contribution they make to Scotland’s archaeology and history. They include the most significant and iconic battlefields and provide information to aid their protection, management, interpretation and promotion.

The Inventory is designed to help local planning authorities and other public bodies who will have to take the battlefields into account if they make any decisions about the landscape that might affect them.  The aim is to manage change within battlefields in a sustainable way, taking their historical and archaeological significance into account, and to realise the positive contributions that battlefields can make to our environment.

From the 13th December until February 11th 2011, everyone in Scotland will have the opportunity to comment on these proposals via the Historic Scotland website, by post or telephone. In addition, people living within the area of the battlefields will receive a leaflet in the next few weeks informing them of the proposals.

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

“The Inventory of Historic Battlefields will help  increase general awareness of historic battlefields throughout Scotland and the contribution they make to understanding our history and landscape.

“Battlefields make a distinctive contribution to our sense of place and history, both locally and nationally. They are a wonderful resource for education, helping us understand why significant events in our history unfolded as they did and provide a tangible link to some of the key figures of Scottish history.  

“Not only do battlefields form an important part of our sense of identity, they also have enormous potential for attracting tourists, as well as for general recreation, allowing visitors to experience the site of a dramatic historical event for themselves.  We want to make sure that these important battlefields are looked after now and for future generations.

“Battlefields are a distinctive element of our historic environment. Like other elements of the historic environment, they are a fragile and finite resource, vulnerable to a range of impacts from modern life that can damage them and diminish their value and potential.  It is important that the most significant sites are protected now to ensure that their interest survives and can be appreciated in the future.”

Dr Tony Pollard, Director of the  Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University said: “This has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding project and it is gratifying to see these key sites being taken seriously. We have an incredible wealth of battlefields in Scotland and it is vital that we consider them alongside other elements of our cultural heritage. It is important that people engage in this process and demonstrate their own feelings about what can be very fragile landscapes. We may not be able to preserve these sites in aspic but more so than ever, in a restless world which places increasing demands on natural resources and space, they have much to teach us. What is needed is the desire to learn.' 

For information:

Enquiries and responses can be made by email to; by telephone to 0131 668 8716 or by post to HS Inspectorate, Central Admin Team, Room 2.31, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh EH9 1SH.

Historic Scotland are in the process of undertaking research to add further battlefields to the Inventory in 2011.  

For a battlefield to be included in the Inventory, it must be considered to be of national importance either for its association with key historical figures or events or for the physical remains and /or archaeological potential it contains or for its landscape context.  In addition it must be possible to define the site on a modern map.

Each Inventory report describes the battlefield and the reasons for its inclusion.  This includes a summary of the battle and its historical context, a succinct indication of its importance for each selection factor and an explanation of the area defined by the Inventory map. The selection factors are:  historical association; physical remains and archaeological potential, cultural association and landscape context.  

The Inventory map indicates the extent of the battlefield, defining the overall area considered to be of interest on the basis of research undertaken.  It includes the area where the main battles are thought to have taken place, where associated physical remains and archaeological evidence occur or may be expected, and where additional landscape components, such as strategic viewpoints, may lie.

While the landscape will usually have changed to some extent since the time of the battle, it often retains key characteristics of the terrain at the time, allowing events to be located and aiding understanding and interpretation.

Although no new archaeological investigation has been carried out in researching the Inventory sites, such evidence has been used where available. This has provided information about where events occurred across a battlefield; about troop deployments; about weapons used and features that were in place at the time of the battle or resulted from the action.

Anyone wishing to carry out work on land or property within an Inventory site will have to go through the normal requirements that apply, such as applying for planning permission or woodland grants, and the relevant authorities will take battlefields into account in their decision-making. Historic Scotland will work with planning authorities and other public bodies to draw up guiding principles for this decision-making, so that change within battlefields can be managed in a sustainable way that takes their significance into account.

For further information on the Inventory visit

Please note that Inventory descriptions and maps may be amended from time to time to reflect new evidence, changing knowledge and understanding.

To view the consultation, please visit  This will be available from Monday 13th December.

Sites in the first phase of the Inventory sites

  • Alford 1645
  • Harlaw 1411

East Lothian
  • Dunbar II 1650
  • Pinkie 1547
  • Prestonpans 1745

  • Falkirk II 1746

  • Auldearn 1645
  • Culloden  1746
  • Glenshiel  1719

North Lanarkshire
  • Kilsyth 1645

Perth and Kinross
  • Dupplin Moor 1332
  • Killiecrankie  1689

Scottish Borders
  • Ancrum Moor 1545
  • Philiphaugh 1645

  • Bannockburn 1314
  • Sherriffmuir 1715

South Lanarkshire
  • Bothwell Bridge 1679

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.
  • Register for media release email alerts from If you wish to unsubscribe at any time, please email  

For further information

Jennifer Johnston Watt
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8070 or 07827 956 866