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12 December 2023

HES publishes response to review of battlefield management

We have published our response to a recent public consultation on recommendations for the designation and management of historic battlefields in the planning system, setting out a series of actions and recommendations for their management.

The battlefield at Dunbar.

In May 2021, HES commissioned planning and development consultants Lichfields UK to undertake a report examining how Historic Battlefields are managed within the Scottish planning system.

Their report concluded that while the Inventory and the policy protections which exist around it are functioning as intended, there are some changes which could improve its working. These included providing greater clarity both in terms of designation and guidance for those working with battlefields, and managing battlefield archaeology more effectively.

After receiving the report, HES launched a public consultation to gather feedback from those interested in the management of historic battlefields. The responses - which have also been published as part of HES’s report - were largely supportive of the Lichfields recommendations.

In response to the report and the consultation feedback, HES has now published a series of actions for the organisation alongside onward recommendations for the wider sector. Some of these actions will be led by HES, while others will be for the consideration of planning stakeholders and the Scottish Government.

Actions that HES will take forward include a review of battlefields selection guidance to clarify how boundaries are defined and what aspects are included in the designation. HES will then commence a prioritised review of individual sites on the inventory. These  reviews will involve public consultation.

HES will also revise the format of inventory records to ensure these can be used effectively for the purpose of informing management of the surviving battlefield landscape through the planning system. Managing Change guidance for historic battlefields will also be updated to reflect lessons learned over the last decade.

Ann MacSween, Head of Planning, Consents and Advice  at HES, said:

“Scotland’s historic battles are an important part of our identity and culture, and their designation and management in the planning system seeks to ensure that their significance is recognised and taken into account in development decisions.

“The Lichfields report has provided useful evidence of how the inventory of battlefields is working in the planning system now that the inventory has entered the second decade of its existence.

“We do not think that major changes are required to how battlefields are protected in the planning system. However, the report and the feedback we received from stakeholders have helped to identify a series of actions and we look forward to taking these forward together with the sector.”

View the report

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead body for Scotland’s historic environment, a charity dedicated to the advancement of heritage, culture, education and environmental protection. It is at the forefront of researching and understanding the historic environment and addressing the impacts of climate change on its future, investigating and recording architectural and archaeological sites and landscapes across Scotland and caring for more than 300 properties of national importance. We are also the lead on delivering Scotland's strategy for the historic environment, Our Past, Our Future.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle, and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
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For further information, please contact:

Claire Mullaney
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962