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What is the Inventory of Historic Battlefields?

Learn about our role in designating and preserving Scotland's nationally important battlefields.

1 Overview

Historic battles hold a significant place in our national consciousness and play an important part in our sense of identity. These momentous events live on today, through memorials, music, poetry and literature.

Battlefields – the landscapes where these events took place – are hugely important because of what they can tell us about the course of the battle, and the physical remains and artefacts they can contain. Battlefields are also places of remembrance, as sites where soldiers fought and died and may have been buried.

We maintain an Inventory of Historic Battlefields. This is a list of nationally important battlefields in Scotland that meet the criteria published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance 2019.

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Download our guide to Scotland's Inventory of Historic Battlefields (available in English and Gaelic).

Find out more about our designation priorities and plans in our Designations 2020 Onwards document.

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

Historic battlefields:

  • enhance our sense of place, local distinctiveness and culture
  • improve our understanding and enjoyment of the past
  • contribute to the economy through tourism
  • offer a rich resource for education and research, including family history
  • have enormous potential for recreation, allowing visitors to stand on the site of a major and dramatic historical event
  • are a focus for remembrance and reflection on the impact the battles had on peoples’ lives

Some individual features of battlefields can also be designated as scheduled monuments or listed buildings.

Read what to do about finds made on archaeological sites.

2 Inventory records

The Inventory of Historic Battlefields contains a record for each site.

Inventory records include a detailed report on the battle. It describes the battlefield and the reasons for its national importance. This information helps to:

  • raise awareness of the significance of the battlefield
  • assist in the sustainable management of change through the planning system and through land management
  • inform the wider enjoyment, research, interpretation, education and commemoration of sites

Each Inventory report includes:

  • the location of the battlefield
  • the date of inclusion in the Inventory
  • a summary of the battle and its historical context
  • why the battlefield is important in relation to each of the main selection criteria
  • a map showing the Inventory boundary
  • an explanation of the area defined by the map
  • a list of key source material and references to aid further research and for educational use

More detailed information is also provided in support of the summary wherever this is available.

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3 Inventory maps

The Inventory maps show a range of information about the battlefield, where known.

The maps indicate:

  • the boundary of the Inventory area
  • the main areas of deployment and combat
  • areas of additional skirmishing
  • routes of movement to, from and around the battlefield
  • the location of camps
  • key strategic and vantage points
  • landscape features which played an important or decisive role in the battle
  • areas of known or potential archaeological remains