Historic battles hold a significant place in our national consciousness and play an important part in our sense of identity. They help tell the story of our past and continue to be a place of interest and importance for Scots and visitors alike.
Culloden holds a particularly poignant place in Scotland’s story, and was added to the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in 2011.
What is the Inventory of Historic Battlefields?
This is a list of nationally important battlefields in Scotland, maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).
- The Inventory of Historic Battlefields is a major resource for:
- enhancing the understanding and appreciation of battlefields
- promoting education about important battles in Scotland's history
- stimulating further research
- developing battlefields’ potential as attractions for visitors
Find out more about the Inventory of Historic Battlefields
Inventory of Historic Battlefields and the Planning system
Including a battlefield on the Inventory is not intended to be a barrier to development. Rather, the intention is to identify an area where particular consideration must be given, through the planning process, to the potential impacts on the site. This should focus on the special qualities and landscape characteristics of the battlefield.
Planning Authorities have to consider any proposals for development carefully. They have to decide whether development will significantly detract from the importance of the battle site.
HES is a statutory consultee for planning applications affecting Inventory battlefields. This means that a planning authority should consider whether to consult us before determining an application where a development may affect a historic battlefield.
Our response to a consultation will be carefully considered and determined by the particular circumstances of each application, such as location, nature of development and relationship to the battlefield landscape. For example, many battlefield sites cover significantly large areas, some of which will already feature existing development.
Scotland’s planning system is designed to ensure that planning decisions are made within a local context by planning officials, and by elected councillors. The Council decides what weight to place on our comments when reaching a view on an application. Planning authorities have to balance impacts on the historic environment with the other needs of an area: for example housing or industry. The planning system is in place to ensure that this happens in a transparent way.
Culloden planning applications
In recent years HES, and our predecessor body Historic Scotland, have been consulted on a number of planning applications relating to Culloden battlefield.
For planning applications relating to Culloden battlefield, our role is to provide advice to The Highland Council as Planning Authority when a proposed development may impact on the battlefield. In providing comments, we look at what is proposed in relation to the characteristics of the specific part of the battlefield in which the development is proposed.
In 2011, a developer applied for permission for the demolition of a modern agricultural buildings and the construction of 16 houses on the site known as Viewhill, within the area designated in the Inventory of Historic Battlefields for Culloden.
Planning permission was granted for residential development at Viewhill in 2014, by an independent reporter after the initial decision by Highland Council was appealed.
Our predecessor body, Historic Scotland, concluded that the Viewhill development was unlikely to have a significant impact upon either the battlefield landscape or the underlying archaeology, as the area was on a previously developed site and had already seen modern development in the form of now-demolished farmhouses, riding stables and barns.
View documentation relating to the Viewhill application
In May 2018 we responded to a consultation concerning a planning application for the change of use of an equestrian centre to holiday, leisure and hospitality facilities at Tree Top Stables.
The proposed development area lies within woodland and is separated from the core of the battlefield by forestry.
Our view is that the proposed development would not alter the characteristics of the battlefield or have a significant impact on the battlefield landscape or the underlying archaeology. The proposed development preserves the wooded setting of the current structures, and is not widely visible from elsewhere in the battlefield.
Additionally, archaeological evidence recovered from the site during a survey undertaken to inform the works dates to the 20th century, suggesting that the area is unlikely to have been the focus for activity during the battle.
View documentation relating to Treetop Stables application
In June 2018 we responded to a consultation concerning a planning application for a new farmhouse close to Stablehollow. The proposals were for a new dwelling which would have lain within an open and sensitive part of the battlefield, likely to have been in front of the Jacobite lines at the start of the battle and crossed over by the Jacobite charge.
We objected to this application because introducing residential development in that location would have significant adverse impacts on the character of the battlefield and its landscape.
View documentation relating to the Stablehollow application
In July 2018 we responded to a consultation concerning a planning application for a new agricultural shed at Cairnside. The proposals were to erect a new, relatively small, agricultural shed in a very sensitive part of the battlefield, likely to have been crossed over by the Jacobite charge, and near to Stable Hollow; a gully closely associated with events during and after the battle. We consequently objected to the application and subsequently undertook discussions with Highland Council and the applicant to try and identify a more appropriate location within the same field. We did not object to an amended application for a shed in a new location in October 2018.
View documentation relating to the Cairnside application
In July 2018 we responded to a consultation concerning a planning application for a single dwelling in Leanach. We did not object to this proposal because the new dwelling would be part of a line of already existing buildings and would not have a significant impact on the battlefield.
View documentation relating to the Leanach application
In October 2018 we responded to a consultation concerning a planning application for conversion of a steading and erection of outbuildings at Culchunaig. We did not object to this proposal because converting the steading would not significantly change the character of this sensitive part of the battlefield landscape.
We noted that the proposed development may impact on physical remains associated with the battle and recommended that this potential be investigated prior to determination of the application in order for mitigation to be developed if appropriate.
View documentation relating to the Culchunaig application