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Battlefield FAQs


Rotunda and Statue, Bannockburn (c) NTS


Why are battlefields important?
Are battlefields relevant today?
Was there any protection before the Inventory?
What is the purpose of the Inventory?
Who compiles the Inventory?
What is included on the Inventory?
How many battlefields are on the Inventory?
What will happen to sites that do not qualify for inclusion in the Inventory?
Where can I see the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland?
Can I propose a site for inclusion in the Inventory?
How does the Inventory work?
What protection comes with inclusion on the Inventory?
Does inclusion in the Inventory restrict what I can do?
What is Historic Scotland’s role?
What should I do if I find any objects on a battlefield?


Why are battlefields important?

Battles have a significant place in our history and national consciousness and have a strong resonance in Scottish culture, expressed through art, music and literature, and in our sense of national identity. Battlefields may contain physical remains associated with the battle or have the potential to yield important archaeological evidence that can enhance our understanding of events. Some battlefields are also the last resting places of the slain.


Are battlefields relevant today?

Battlefields play a part in enhancing our sense of place, local distinctiveness and culture, as well as our understanding and enjoyment of the past; and by contributing to the economy through tourism. They offer a rich resource for education and research, including family history. They are ripe for interpretation and recreation, allowing first-hand experience of the location of a major and dramatic historical event. They provide the platform for reflection on our past and the impact it has had on peoples’ lives.


Was there any protection before the Inventory?

The Inventory is the first dedicated designation for battlefields in Scotland. Several existing laws have been applied to provide protection to parts of battlefields where appropriate.  Parts of some battlefields are protected as scheduled monuments, as listed buildings, as gardens and designed landscapes, or as conservation areas. Additionally where battlefields lie within areas designated for other interests, such as National Parks, National Scenic Areas and areas designated for local landscape value, they can be accorded some protection if recognised as part of the special qualities of the designated area.


What is the purpose of the Inventory?

The purpose of the Inventory is to identify battlefields of national importance and to provide information on them as a basis for their understanding and protection, and to promote the sustainable management of change within them through the planning system and through land management. The Inventory will also provide a resource to inform the wider enjoyment, interpretation, education, research and commemoration of battlefields across Scotland.


Who compiles the Inventory?

Historic Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government, compiles the Inventory of Historic Battlefields on behalf of Scottish Ministers and works closely with planning authorities and relevant public bodies to ensure that sites on it are taken into account in their plans, policies and decision-making processes.


What is included on the Inventory?

Specific criteria are set out in Scottish Historic Environment Policy. To be included in the Inventory a site must be of national importance, being considered to make, or have the potential to make, a contribution to the understanding of the archaeology and history of the nation as a whole or hold a particularly significant place in the national consciousness. For a battlefield to be included, it also has to be possible to locate the site with confidence. Where this has not been possible based on current information, some nationally important sites are not included but should relevant further information come to light it will be possible to add these to the Inventory in future.


How many battlefields are on the Inventory?

Sites that meet the published criteria will be added to the Inventory when the necessary research has been undertaken. Although there have been a large number of battles throughout Scottish history, most of these do not meet the Inventory criteria. In some cases, sites that would meet the criteria have not been included because they cannot be located accurately on the basis of present knowledge. Historic Scotland keeps the Inventory under review and adds new sites, or amends existing descriptions, if further information becomes available. We will also remove any that no longer meet the criteria of national importance.


What will happen to sites that do not qualify for inclusion in the Inventory?

The Inventory is intended to identify sites of national importance. However, there are many sites across Scotland that do not meet the criteria set for national importance but which nevertheless make an important contribution to the local historic environment, landscape character and sense of place. Planning authorities and other public bodies are encouraged to identify such battlefields in their areas and to develop policies for their future management. For such sites which Historic Scotland has researched, but which have not met the criteria for inclusion, we will publish a report detailing what is known about the battle and the reason for the decision not to include it.


Where can I see the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland?

The Inventory can be viewed online through the Historic Scotland website at http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/index/heritage/battlefields.htm. We will also be happy to send you by post a copy of an Inventory report and map for the particular battlefield that you are interested in. Please contact the Scheduling, Marine and Battlefields Team at Historic Scotland, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1SH, telephone 0131 668 8766.


Can I propose a site for inclusion in the Inventory?

‘If you think that a battlefield meets the criteria and should be included in the Inventory, you are welcome to contact Historic Scotland using our proposal form. The form should be completed as fully as possible; you should set out why you believe the site to be of national importance and, if possible, include supporting material such as recent dated and captioned photographs and maps. Please note though that it may take some time for us to consider and decide upon a site for inclusion. It is also possible to request a review of an existing entry by using this form, for example if new research or finds have come to light.


How does the Inventory work?

Planning authorities are expected to ensure that Inventory battlefields are recognised in the development planning process and that impacts upon them are considered. Development plans should routinely include policies that identify nationally important battlefields in their area and outline the criteria that will apply to their protection, conservation and management within the pl

anning system.

Other public bodies with responsibilities for landscape, land-use and land management should also develop policies and guidelines for battlefields as appropriate to their work.


What protection comes with inclusion on the Inventory?

Inclusion on the Inventory carries no new legal restrictions, but gives the battlefields extra weight in the planning system and gives planning authorities the key role in decision-making.  As part of the historic environment, Inventory sites are included in appropriate regulations and guidelines of other relevant public bodies.


Does inclusion in the Inventory restrict what I can do?

National planning policy confirms that maintaining and enhancing the quality of the historic environment and preserving the country’s heritage are important functions of the planning system. Historic battlefields are part of that heritage. The purpose of the Inventory is to ensure that the impact of change within battlefields takes their historical and archaeological significance into account to minimise adverse impacts and avoid unnecessary damage.

Inventory battlefields are recognised by the local planning authorities and other public bodies as an important part of the historic environment and local landscape and should be governed by appropriate policies and guidelines and given consideration in decision-making processes. No additional application is needed.


What is Historic Scotland’s role?

Historic Scotland’s aim is to safeguard the nation’s historic environment and promote its understanding and enjoyment. We are responsible for protecting and providing advice on the management of the most important parts of Scotland’s historic environment, and for grant-aiding its conservation.

Historic Scotland compiles and maintains the Inventory on behalf of Scottish Ministers. It is for other authorities to manage the impact on Inventory sites, but Historic Scotland may be asked for views on proposals considered to affect an Inventory battlefield and our views will be taken into consideration by the local planning authority.

A guidance note setting out the guiding principles for the sustainable management of battlefields across the country is available in Historic Scotland’s Managing Change in the Historic Environment series.


What should I do if I find any objects on a battlefield?

Under Scottish law all portable antiquities of archaeological, historical or cultural significance are subject to claim by the Crown through the Treasure Trove system and must be reported. This applies to any finds, whether recovered through archaeological investigations, metal-detecting or by chance. Further information on these legal requirements can be obtained from the Treasure Trove Unit.





Contact us

Historic Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Edinburgh
EH9 1SH
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8766