The Battle of Killiecrankie took place on 27 July 1689 and was the first engagement of the period of Jacobite rebellion.
About 2,000 men were killed in less than 1 hour in one of the goriest episodes of Scottish history, causing carnage on such a scale that the name Killiecrankie was seared into the popular imagination.
The story of Killiecrankie is very important in Scottish History, so much so that there are events held on the battlefield with re-enactment groups led by the “Soldiers of Killiecrankie” each year. Visitors from all over the world gather to learn more about the beginning of the Jacobite rebellion.
Unfortunately, the Killiecrankie battlefield is now the centre of another battle, one to keep the historic site from being made into a layby on the route of the A9 upgrade.
The official battlefield boundary that encompasses the entire area where battle lines were formed is quite large. The blood field where most of the fighting was concentrated is relatively small. Transport Scotland proposes widening the road over that very area. There are in fact earth moving machines already digging trenches on the site of the battlefield.
The battlefield has been included in the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009. This protection it seems is not enough to save it from being dug up and turned into a road.
An archaeological geophysical survey to investigate the potential for buried archaeological remains was commissioned over 4 days in November 2016. Possible burial pits were identified on the very route that is proposed for the A9 on the battlefield. Details of these possible graves were buried deep in an Appendix of the Environmental Statement delivered with the final plans in November 2017. HES reckons that the pits could be “highly significant”.
Objections have been received from Historic Environment Scotland (HES), Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT), Perth and Kinross Council (PKC), Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), heritage and archaeology groups, historians and KilliecrAnkie1689, a local residents group. This still does not seem to have been able to stop the proposed destruction of such an important cultural asset.
A petition has now been launched to show the public support for saving the integrity of the Killiecrankie battlefield. Although too late now to officially object, a show of public support for a change of plans to retain the battlefield may still aid in efforts to change the designs. If you would like to show your support for saving the integrity of the Killiecrankie battlefield you can sign the petition here.
Featured image was taken by Niamh Taylor.