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Campaigners fighting developments at Culloden face a fresh front after plans to build a house within the historic boundary of the battlefield were revived – just a week after Scottish Ministers took the unprecedented move of rejecting proposals for the site.

Owners of the steading at Culchunaig, which sits just south of the perimeter fence of the NTS-owned portion of the battlefield and where ‘major action’ on the Jacobite right wing unfolded during the battle in April 1746, have returned with a “scaled back” plan to develop the derelict building.

Their original proposals, which expanded the original steading with a contemporary design, was rejected by Scottish Ministers last month when they took the unusual decision to reject the Planning Reporter’s recommendation to approve the development.

The rejected house would lead to a “surbanising effect” of the landscape with the site highly sensitive to development given the “national historic significance” of the battlefield, ministers found.

The applicants have now come back with a new application for a more traditional design for the site.

A statement from the architects said: “The revised and scaled down proposal now submitted has taken the comments and findings of the Scottish Ministers fully into consideration and has been guided by the concerns and issues raised.

“In particular Ministers considered that only the ‘sympathtic’conversion of the existing steading would be assessed as acceptable.

“In particular, the proposal is now governed solely by a strict conversion and refurbishment of the existing building.”

The new design offered a more “sympathetic” to the historical setting and location of the building, the statement added.

Contemporary elements have been removed with the new design keeping to the original spaces for doors and windows. Exisitng slates will be used for the roof, instead of metal cladding.

Plans for new outbuildings, including a garage and summerhouse, have been scrapped.

Last month, the Group to Stop Development at Culloden hailed the “momentous turnaround of events” when Ministers rejected the design plan for Culchunaig.

Today, spokesman David Learmonth said the Government now had to step in and offer ‘meaningful’ long term protection of Culloden.

He said: “It is appalling that Culloden battlefield is given no more regard under Scottish planning law than any other ordinary piece of land.

“Highland Council, Historic Environment Scotland and National Trust for Scotland have ignored the GSDC, and failed together with the Scottish Government to define any meaningful mechanism to preserve this special location for future generations.”

He said the battlefield had been encroached on all sides by a number of proposed and approved developments.

“Every one of these developments is located on strategic locations of Culloden Battlefield and threaten to destroy the integrity and archaeological features and remains,” he said.

Meanwhile, Highland Council officials have recommended plans for a holiday park with 13 lodges and a restaurant at Faebuie, which sits within the Culloden Muir Conservation on Area and the historic battlefield boundary, are approved.

“It is time for the Scottish Government to take a definitive stance to recognise and implement measures to preserve the cultural and national significance of this historical site,” Mr Learmonth said.

An objection has been lodged by the Administrator of this website and can be downloaded at:  Objection to 20_04611_FUL_1 December 2020

The Highland Council planning website relating to this application can be found at

With acknowledgement and thanks to:

By Alison Campsie

Friday, 4th December 2020,


Congratulations and thank you to members of the Group to Stop Development at Culloden (GSDC) who can now rejoice, as can we all, on the unprecedented decision taken today by Scottish Ministers to refuse planning permission for the house at Culchunaig.

The proposed luxury house at  Culchunaig is marked number 8 on the GSDC map and is located on a hugely sensitive site within Culloden Battlefield.

A previous application was approved by Highland Council and the council was minded to grant the second application.

The GSDC worked hard to get the second application called-in by the Scottish Government, which happened.

An appointed Reporter then recommended that planning permission be granted.

This was overturned and the Scottish Ministers’ decision to refuse is final.



A momentous turnaround of events, and one that we all sincerely hope marks a new dawn for the protection of the Culloden Battlefield especially with still four live applications awaiting determination, including a holiday resort.

Congratulations again to all who objected, with special mention to Professor Christopher Duffy and Andrew Grant McKenzie.

Selected extracts of the Scottish Minsters decision follows.

Directorate for Local Government and Communities Planning and Architecture

Planning Decisions

17 November 2020





FARMHOUSE, WESTHILL, INVERNESS (‘the Proposed Development’)

  1. This letter contains Scottish Ministers’ decision on the above planning application

submitted to The Highland Council by MRH Design on behalf of ...(redacted)….

on 8 October 2018.

  1. On 21 November 2019, Scottish Ministers issued a Direction calling in the

application for their own determination. The Direction was given due to the

Proposed Development’s potential impact on Culloden Battlefield which is a

battlefield of national importance.

  1. Scottish Ministers do not accept the Reporter’s conclusions set out in Chapter 6.

Ministers consider that the Proposed Development would have an adverse impact on

the character of the inventory battlefield and would not preserve or enhance the

character or appearance of the conservation area. Ministers also consider that the

Proposed Development is not in accordance with the development plan overall, being

contrary to Policies 35, 28 and 29 of the Highland-wide LDP. The Proposed

Development is also contrary to the overarching principles of HEPS, in particular the

Managing Change in the Historic Environment: Historic Battlefields guidance note.

Accordingly, for the reasons set out above Scottish Ministers hereby refuse planning



Full details of the Scottish Ministers planning decision can be found at the following link:…/planning-decision-nod-hld-006/

The Group to Stop Development at Culloden Facebook link is:




Its fields are soaked in the blood of 1,500 men slaughtered in 1746. But now a planning row over luxury homes and lodges has sparked…

  • Scottish Daily Mail
  • 24 Oct 2020
  • By Jonathan Brocklebank

    The Battle of Culloden (Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite army of Charkes Edward Stuart was decisively defeated by a British government force under the Duke of Cumberland, on Drummossie Moor, now commonly known as Culloden Battlefield. It was the last pitched battle fought on British soil

At the visitor centre at Culloden, there is a space set aside for overcome tourists. Here they can take a seat and give all the images and emotions flooding into their brains a moment to settle.

Some report a state of near-paralysis after taking in the barren scene, near Inverness, where the destinies of a nation, its people and its monarchy were forged in an orgy of bloodshed.

Others, chatting nineteen to the dozen on arrival, are speechless on departure from the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) site.

For military historian Dr Christopher Duffy, a veteran of some 40 visits to the battlefield where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s pretensions to the throne were laid to waste in short order in 1746, even talking about it makes him shiver.

As battles go, Culloden was tiny,’ he says. ‘It was all over in an hour. The numbers involved were a tenth or a fifteenth of the numbers in the battles going on in Flanders between the French and the British at the time. But Culloden is the one people talk about.’

Culloden, he says, resonates like no other battle through the centuries and across oceans to Canada, the United States or New Zealand. It is ‘ground zero’ for generations of Scotland’s diaspora: what happened here is why they live where they do.

Little wonder so many overseas visitors are overwhelmed by the stillness, the undisturbed sense of place. It is quite a thought to reflect that their forebears may lie underfoot.

Some two-and-three-quarter centuries after Culloden, however, it is the battlefield itself which may soon be overwhelmed. d. Considered by many to be sacred d ground – indeed, a national war grave – it is viewed by others as prime real estate. Thus new battle le lines are formed between commercial interests and cultural ones, as arguments rage over where exactly the battle lines back in 1746 were.

For the commercially minded, the temptation is to invest in the idea of a ‘core’ battleground, all of which h is now owned and operated as a visitor tor attraction by the NTS.

But historians are convinced the battle was played out over a much wider area than that owned by the trust. Some say sending bulldozers s in is equivalent to razing a wing of a national archive.

‘The trouble, basically, at Culloden en is the people making the key decisions ions know nothing of history,’ says Dr Duffy.

Were it not for the fact that he is an Englishman conscious of the dangers of appearing to lecture Scots, his critique of the encroaching developments at Culloden would likely be yet more excoriating.

DR Duffy, who taught military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was secretary general of the British Commission for Military History, has written two books on the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

He describes Culloden as easily the most arresting of the 90 or so battle sites he has visited.

The site’s tragedy, he says, is that too many engage with it symbolically, while too few see it as a historical relic which, even today, is still giving up secrets. The fear is that these secrets may be concreted over for ever before we reach them.

It was in 2014 that the Scottish Government upheld an appeal by developers whose bid to build 16 luxury homes at Viewhill near the battle site was initially rejected by Highland Council.

Later the land was sold to Aberdeenshire-based Kirkwood Homes, which pressed ahead with the development despite vociferous protests.

The building site stood only a few hundred yards from the NTS visitor centre and fell within a red line boundary that was drawn by Historic Environment Scotland to represent the area in which the battle was actually fought.

But the government-funded heritage body offered no objection to the planning application, arguing that farm buildings had stood there previously and so the site had already been developed.

For objectors, there were two key issues. First, the site is a war grave.

It is well known that, as the defeated Jacobites dispersed they were chased and cut down by the Duke of Cumberland’s Hanoverian troops. They were buried where they fell or else left to rot.

THE second issue was the sure knowledge that, should this application succeed, more would follow. So it has proved. Next month, Highland Council’s south planning applications committee is expected to consider a bid to turn part of Culloden moor into a £1million leisure destination with 13 holiday lodges, a 100-seater café/restaurant, laundry and a shop.

Then there is an application to turn a farm steading near the battlefield into a luxury home complete with a Zen garden and ‘chill-out zone’.

It has been called in by the Scottish Government and a decision has yet to be made.

Andrew Grant McKenzie, a former manager at the NTS Culloden site, says these applications confirm the worst fears of those anxious to protect the battlefield.

He says: ‘As I forewarned the directors of the NTS in 2014 and the Highland Council in 2016, the floodgates have opened since the first big development on the battlefield gained its foothold at Viewhill in 2018. The sites of current development interest are all key tactical positions for both the Jacobite and Hanoverian armies’.

Treetops, particularly, is an area of ground in which decisions were being made about the pincer movement which was eventually set up with cavalry at Viewhill and Culchunaig.

‘It is, then, a mistake to suppose these proposals are for developments near the Culloden battlefield. Rather, they are on it.

But then, as Scotland’s foremost historian Sir Tom Devine has lamented, Scotland’s record in preserving sacred battle sites is a ‘wretched’ one.

At Bothwell Bridge in Lanarkshire, only one portion of the 1679 battlefield remains undeveloped and it was the subject of housing development applications in 2005 and 2013.

PLANS to widen and reroute the A9 will further erode what remains of the battlefield of Killiecrankie which, in 1689, was the scene of the first major skirmish of the Jacobite uprising.

The A1 bisects the battlefield of Dunbar, where Cromwell defeated royalist forces in 1650, and parts of the area near Musselburgh where the Battle of Pinkie was fought in 1547 have been given over to housing development.

Culloden was left as one of the very few remaining battle sites in Britain where, according to Dr Duffy, the landscape looked much as it did on the day when 1,500 of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s soldiers were hacked to death and the Jacobite rising routed.

Hence the eerie silence, the sense of awe, as visitors alight on one of the most pivotal patches of land in Scottish history.

What many fail to grasp, however, is there is historical knowledge yet to be gleaned from Culloden.

At his home in London, 84-year-old Dr Duffy has spent much of the past weeks drawing detailed maps of the battleground and tracing the paths of the Jacobite retreat.

Fresh discoveries about the battle are still being made, he says, and science and technology are combining to make further ones possible.

Are we really to brick over this precious portal to understanding?

Dr Duffy said: ‘From the very beginning Scots realised this was an event with major implications for their nation and culture, and the amount of literature available from eyewitnesses, people who kept records, memoirs and students of history ever since cannot be equalled by any other battle in the world in the 18th century. The very exciting thing is we’re finding out not just new evidence –old archival material is still coming to light – but new ways of looking at history are finding Culloden extraordinary important.’

Already, lidar scans – computer enhanced aerial scans which penetrate through vegetation to the ground below – have led to the discovery of clan graves at Culloden.

The ground is still giving up more and more evidence of kinds that we never suspected,’ says Dr Duffy, adding: ‘When it’s built over, it’s destroyed forever.’

In archaeology, he says, it is best practice to leave a patch of ground intact so that future diggers with more advanced methods will have undisturbed soil to work on.

This is made impossible at Culloden. The reason is not enough people are interested in the actual ground itself. Culloden is viewed very much in symbolic terms even by people who protest loudly about development.’

And yet, he suggests, ask them to engage in the history, in what actually went on here on April 16, 1746, and many of them ‘disappear into the night with a melodious twang’. That is not an accusation which could be laid at Joyce McKenzie’s door in Ontario, Canada. A long-term opponent of development at Culloden, she speaks of a collective failure by the Government and its agencies to protect the little patch of Scotland which means so much to her family history.

And she explains it thus: ‘In the end, money speaks louder than honour and respect for those who fought on both sides and l ay buried there.’

As one of the principal spokesmen for the Group to Stop Development at Culloden, she says few in the diaspora cannot claim an ancestor who fought or died there or suffered in its aftermath.

Transportation, slavery, the Clearances – all these relate to the Battle of Culloden,’ she says.

Our opposition to development is not based on preventing houses from being built,’ she adds. ‘We simply do not want houses being built on, or in the areas adjacent to the battlefield at Culloden.’

Yet, with the cruellest of ironies, this week the ‘Treetops’ holiday destination’s chances of approval at the planning committee were dramatically improved by an apparent case of SNP objectors shooting themselves in the foot.

Several Nationalist councillors who were against the proposal and planned to oppose it have been forced to remove themselves from the voting process after SNP colleagues in a neighbouring ward campaigned against it.

The Inverness South SNP group had emailed members inviting them to register their complaints for a collective objection to the proposal. That triggered a warning from senior SNP figures on Highland Council that the email risked breaking planning rules on bias.

The situation was exacerbated when the group posted on its public Facebook page urging people to oppose the application. ‘Whether it be a short few lines or an extensive detailed complaint your voice is urgently required,’ it said.

The upshot is that several SNP councillors have now recused themselves from the process.

Ken Gowans, who is not a member of the planning committee but would have had an opportunity to speak as the local member for the area, said: ‘It was evident I had no option but to declare an interest in this application. My integrity and impartiality may be considered by others to have been compromised by these instances of overt political intervention.’

Highland Council said yesterday: ‘The planning application for the leisure development at Treetops is still under consideration’.

‘In the event officers recommend that planning permission should be granted, it will be presented to a meeting of our south planning applications committee for determination in due course. The associated report will be available for public scrutiny three days before the meeting, in accordance with the council’s standing orders.’

In response to Dr Duffy’s claim no historian had been consulted by decision-makers on Culloden applications, a council spokesman said: ‘It is not appropriate to provide a response while work to assess the application is ongoing.’

The End of the ‘Forty Five’ Rebellion depicts the retreat of the defeated

And so, 274 years on, a new reckoning looms at Culloden. Will history and reverence for all that the place represents at home and abroad win the day?

Or is money the most powerful force on the battlefield today?

The National Trust of Scotland has reaffirmed their opposition to a new attempt to develop Treetops Stables, Faebuie, Culloden Moor as a holiday complex.

They state,“We opposed the original planning application back in May 2018, and the application was subsequently turned down by the Highland Council.”

The Battle of Culloden ranged over a large area. The National Trust of Scotland own a key part of the battlefield at Culloden but not the land on which the stables are built.

Nevertheless, they have raised their concerns in the past against developments that threatened the integrity of the wider historic battlefield.

The wider historic battlefield has Conservation Area status, applied by Highland Council.

Culloden Muir Conservation Area

This was a protective measure put in place after the Scottish reporter overturned a decision by the council to refuse planning permission for a luxury housing development at nearby Viewhill Farm. This, as predicted, now represents an intrusive and unwelcome presence within prominent view of the main battle site.

The new proposal is currently before Highland Council.

Details can be found on the following link:

Objections to this proposal can also be found on the site and persons wishing to lodge an objection, as has this writer, should send these to:

Examples of objections to which one might refer are those of the Group To Stop Development At Culloden, Dr David Learmonth, A. S. McKenzie (short and concise) and Patricia Robertson among others.

The relevant National Trust of Scotland website statement can be found at:

A petition is available online: with the appropriate link below.

At the time of writing the petition, which is addressed to Historic Environment Scotland, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop.msp, Local Government and Communities Committee Members, had around 110,000 signatures.

12th October 2020

By Alison Campsie

The manager of Culloden Battlefield described official approval of plans to build a holiday park close to the historic site as “depressing”.

The holiday park sits around a mile north of the section of battlefield owned by National Trust for Scotland, with the conservation charity amongst those who objected to the plans. PIC: Pixabay.

Proposals for the holiday village near Culloden Moor, which features 13 to 16 wooden chalets and a 100-seat restaurant, have been recommended for approval by planners at Highland Council, despite strong opposition.

Councillors will take final decision next month.

The plans were strongly condemned by historians and campaigners given the site, the old Treetops equestrian centre at Feabuie, is where British troops “saddled up” before their 1746 clash with the Jacobites.

The new holiday park sits around a mile north of the section of battlefield owned by National Trust for Scotland (NTS), with the conservation charity among those objecting to the plans.

Raoul Curtis-Machin, NTS operations manager at Culloden Battlefield, said: “We objected very strongly and the fact that it is going to get approved is very depressing. We can do no more at this stage.

The planning system doesn’t allow us to object any more strongly. It’s just depressing.

“I don’t feel like our views are being heard. I am speechless.”

Mr Curtis-Machin said it was possible that the only way forward to protect Culloden was to buy up battlefield land.

Original plans for the holiday park were turned down in May 2019 on environmental grounds but a fresh application has been accepted by planners following amendments.

Andrew Grant McKenzie, a member of the Historians’ Council on Culloden and founder of Highland Historian consultancy and tours, is a former general manager at Culloden Battlefield.

He said the decision to recommend the application was a “disaster for academic and conservation at Culloden”.

Mr McKenzie added: “We are now closer than we have ever previously been to being able to accurately map the movements throughout the battle, but every year since 2018 we have had key areas literally taken from us by the Highland Council’s decisions to approve planning applications.

“This means that we are quickly losing the possibility of ever understanding this battle site holistically and accurately. If this particular application goes ahead, the damage done by the decision will inevitably reach far beyond the boundaries of this specific application. And yet, the same decision-makers now have none of the excuses given in 2018 and 2019.

“The information of critical contemporary academic research is fully available to them.”

CUARAN, BROUGE, PUMP, PAMPOOTIE, BOG SHOE all are used to describe this common Highland Footwear.

Modern day Highland Dance Shoes and Ghillie Brogues originate from this humble shoe.

Martin Martin, a visitor to the Highlands, wrote in 1703 ~ “The shoes anciently wore, were a piece of the hide of a deer, cow or horse, with the hair on, being tied behind and before with a point of leather.”

Edmund Burt, a Englishman visiting the Highlands in the 1730’s wrote ~ “They are often barefoot, but some I have seen shod with a kind of pumps made out of a raw cow hide with the hair turned outward. They are not only offensive to the sight, but intolerable to the smell of those who are near them. By the way, they cut holes in their brogues though new made, to let out the water when they have far to go, and rivers to pass; this they do to prevent their feet from galling.”

This is a pair was reproduced using tanned hide.





















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The most often repeated misinformation – from the printed press to the BBC – is the idea that the property owned by the National Trust for Scotland (outlined in green on the map) is the entire battlefield. It is, in fact, less than half the active ground of combat. The map below was created by Dr. Christopher Duffy, the most repected military scholar on the battle, when he was asked by the then Historians’ Council on Culloden, led by Deborah Dennison and Dr Duffy, to place current landmarks on the same map as the depiction of the battle action.

The blue spots represent current or proposed development on the battlefield (there are more since this was done) At the moment, aside from the spa and resort proposal (which is behind the Government lines to the east) there is a private road and large luxury house in planning for a most critical part of the actual brutal bloodshed on the field of combat.

Another piece of so much ‘fake news’ about the battle is the idea that this ground was insisted upon by the Prince – against Murray’s recommendation. This is simply not true and primary sources confirm this. The Prince and the High Command had chosen their ground the day before at Newlands to the east where the ground was drier and offered better sight lines along the battle array.

The position they had to take on the morning of April 16th when the exhausted Jacobite Army woke to find Cumberland had moved past Newlands, was between the Culloden Park Walls and the Culwhiniac enclosure. This position protected the Jacobite battle line from outflanking – critical for a force less in number, artillery and cavalry. The only alternative was to run and allow Cumberland to take Inverness, which, with Fort William in Government hands and Fort Augustus soon to fall, and would have resulted in the same Government desvastation of West Highlands and Islands which happened after the defeat . There was a chance the Jacobites could fight off Cumberland and most agreed (not just the Prince) they had to take it. Contrary to more common myths, the Jacobite right flank conducted a brilliant and successful fight against the Government. There were many complicated factors which led to the Jacobite defeat – it was likely, but not certain.

If you look to the Jaoobite left flank (the north) you will see that they moved forward from the original battle array (at the Culloden Park walls) into deep bog. This was largely Clan Donald under Perth and Glenbuchat. They were subjected to a terrible barrage of artillery fire as they waded through the thigh high bog. Ironically, had the Government used their previous tactic of sending in their cavalry and dragoons to combat the Highland charge (as they had at Prestonpans and Falkirk) the bog would have been an important protection for the left flank againt the cavalry charge. As it was, clan Donald was caught in it in the charge – this is where Young Clanranlad and Glenaladale was wounded and where Keppoch fell.

Three days after the battle, when the Government finally gave permission for the bodies to be buried, the pits were dug at the centre where about 700 Jacobite dead lay in piles. Did the men pressed to gather the bodies into carts go all the way north to the Culloden Park walls to pull bodies out of the deep bog? Their carts could certainly go nowhere near it. We know that at least 1200 jacobites were killed on the field and we know that the pits contain between 700 and 750 bodies. Very few of the dead were rescued from the field as the Government forces killed most who tried. The maths is simple.

The developers who want to build on this ground and drain the bog brought in GUARD to do an archaeological study. GUARD has been for the past ten years a group of archaeologists for hire, no longer a part of the University of Glasgow. They did some metal detecting on this ground and declared there was no evidence that anything happened there. But the eye witness statements from both sides of the battle do not confirm this conclusion. This ground has also been scavanged by souvenir hunters and later by metal detectorists (taking away buckets of musket balls from the field) for the past two hundred years – so the evidence has been long destroyed. It is also likely that remaining metal has sunk deep into the bog beyond the reach of surface detectors.

What is clear is that these facts are not widely known by the public or by the politicians and those who wish to exploit this ground for profit or luxury houses are winning the day. 87 objection letters have been written by history and cultural organisations to the Highland Council and are being ignored. A petition of over 100,000 signatures was also ignored. Even public statements by Scotland’s most esteemed historians, Prof Sir Tom Devine and Prof Murray Pittock have been ignored. Only a massive public uproar might change government policy to destroy this war grave. If you feel strongly about this – write to the FM and to your MSP. Write to Historic Environment Scotland to protest their lack of a consistent stance to protect this ground. Once lost – it is gone forever.

Culloden Battlefield 16 April 1746 and now