It is the site of one of the most significant battles in British history. Now a fresh bid has been launched to campaign for the Culloden battlefield to become a World Heritage Site.
To coincide with the battle’s 275th anniversary, which fell earlier this year, the National Trust of Scotland (NTS) has published a manifesto, which it hopes the Scottish parliament will back, to grant the site UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Located outside Inverness, Culloden saw the final defeat of the Jacobite Rising, an attempt to restore the usurped Stuart Dynasty to the British throne, led by Charles Edward Stuart. In April 1746, the Jacobites were defeated by a British government force led by William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland.
The anniversary of the event, the last and most significant of the Jacobite risings, was commemorated online earlier this year. The site itself is dotted with cairns marking the clans who fought in the battle. Many soldiers’ remains lie there to this day.
In addition to World Heritage status, the NTS has argued battlefields across the country should be included in the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), a long-term government plan for national development and infrastructure, which would grant them the same protections as historic buildings and monuments, which currently they do not enjoy.
The NTS manifesto states: ‘Enhanced protections for battlefields should be included in NPF4 to prevent development occurring which has a hugely adverse effect on the sites of historic battles, and/or the landscapes in which they are situated.’
Raoul Curtis-Machen, operations manager at the Culloden battlefield, spoke of his concern at the incursions of developments near the site, which has seen multiple planning applications for residential and holiday accommodation.
‘We averaged more than 300,000 visitors a year pre-COVID, and we work hard to keep the battlefield open and accessible 24/7,’ Curtis Machen said. ‘Yet we are frequently surrounded by planning applications for developments, and we struggle to defend against them all.’
‘Everyone wants to protect the cultural crown jewel that is Culloden battlefield, but the existing planning mechanisms are too weak,’ he added.
If successful, Culloden would become the seventh UNESCO World Heritage Site in Scotland, along with locations such as the Antonine Wall and the Forth Rail Bridge.