Wednesday 29 August 2018

The Gloves are Off — Protect Killiecrankie Battlefield by Killiecrankie1689 #Killiecrankie #Jacobite #Scotland @KilliecrankieA9

The Gloves are Off — Protect Killiecrankie Battlefield.
By Killiecrankie1689

It is not just at Bosworth and Culloden that we hear the clash of modern development against history and heritage.  Throughout the land, there is relentless pressure for new construction for commercial enterprise, houses or essential infrastructure on sites that have been designated worthy of protection.

Perhaps daddy of them all is the battlefield of Killiecrankie, in scenic Highland Perthshire at the southern tip of Cairngorms National Park.   This is the site of the Battle of Killiecrankie which took place on 27 July 1689 and whose legend has been seared into national consciousness with help from Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth. 

The best-known tale of the battle is one recounted by Donald McBane, a redcoat who ran away before hand-to-hand fighting started.  Pursued by furious Highlanders, McBane claims to have escaped by jumping 18ft across the River Garry, at the place in the gorge now shamelessly marketed as the Soldier’s Leap.

The battle was the first engagement of the Glorious Revolution and Jacobite period in Scotland which ended in a surprising victory for the outnumbered Highlanders.  In less than one hour of savage slaughter, well over 2,000 men were killed including the charismatic rebel leader, John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee. The loss of the man whom some called ‘Bonnie Dundee’ effectively signalled the end of this particular revolt and elevated his status to the near mythic.

Due to the importance of the battle in Scottish History, the numbers who fell, the relatively undisturbed terrain, landscape and historical features, Killiecrankie was included in the very first edition of the much vaunted Inventory of Historic Battlefields in 2011.  This document forms a central part of the extensive framework to protect our historic environment. The Inventory lists every known historic asset and key landscape features of the Killiecrankie battlefield and is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

HES also has an array of policy, guidance notes, circulars and planning directives designed to explain the value of our history, heritage and archaeology.  All of this is loudly supported by the Scottish government who went so far as to dub 2017 the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology or #HHA2017 in Twitter parlance.

After all, the Scottish government understands how powerfully history, heritage and genealogy drive tourism.  Scotland provides a landscape as rich in panoramas as it is in romance to encourage visitors to come here. That same history and heritage is inspiring a significant cinematic output which also contributes to tourism.  Set-jetting has become a thing. All of which has fed into a record number of visitors, record spending and a bright outlook, according to the national tourist chief.

Given that background, one would expect the Scottish government to take extra care when it comes to any project that will impact on a historic gem, such as Killiecrankie. Not so. Alas, when tasked with completing an upgrade of the A9 road which traverses 110 miles through the spine of Scotland from Perth to Inverness, Transport Scotland has decided to plonk huge infrastructure on the most sensitive part of the battlefield.  It will ruin the very assets and characteristics that are listed in HES’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields.

At the moment the A9 road is single carriage in some stretches and dual carriage in others.  It has to be uniformly dualled to today’s road standards. The original A9 was built in Killiecrankie in the 1970s and remains single carriage. It passes high above the River Garry through the Pass of Killiecrankie and then bisects the battlefield just north of the Pass where the terrain opens out. 

Transport Scotland claims that as the road already cuts through the battlefield, it does not make much difference how it is widened. They say that the damage has been done and any new infrastructure is not going to have an adverse effect.    

Their argument is disingenuous.  Where the road goes is critical. The problem is that when building to today’s standards there is more involved than creating another strip of tarmac to run alongside the existing road.  At Killiecrankie, the upgrade requires a central reservation, a verge at either side, two new lanes, two long lay-bys, three large drainage basins, access roads to the new drainage structures, new off/on roads for a new junction, a number of new bridges over streams and burns, steep embankments, felling of mature trees, dismantling of an earthen sound barrier and more. All the new infrastructure is planned on the part of the battlefield where historians agree the main fighting took place.

At an early stage of the planning, Transport Scotland with consultants, Jacobs, identified the boundaries of the Inventory battlefield.  It appears that that is all they did. Had they properly considered the assets which HES has listed within the Inventory boundaries, they would never have arrived at their proposed design.

Transport Scotland’s justification for its damaging plan is the cost benefit in utilising 150,000m3 of filler material, excavated elsewhere on the A9, in Killiecrankie. By creating new infrastructure on the northbound side of the road, excess from elsewhere can be economically re-used.  This design predetermines the alignment of the road and everything else, in engineering terms, must follow.  When ‘consulted’ during the planning stages, HES said that it was opposed to large earthworks and they should be avoided.

Challenged about the adverse impact on history, heritage and archaeology, Transport Scotland repeats fuzzy arguments with spurious historical evidence. A redoubt known as Lagnabuig and listed in the Inventory as a place where sniping occurred in the early part of the battle, has been airbrushed from Transport Scotland’s assessment of the battlefield.

Archaeology is shaping up to be something of a battleground. Transport Scotland reached its preferred option for the road without having appointed an archaeological curator.  It is only now in the process of giving Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust (PKHT) the role.

There is little doubt that the proposal is light on archaeology. It became known only when the final road plan was revealed that mysterious ‘pits’ had been discovered in the path of the proposed new road. The ‘pits’ may or may not have been burial sites. As only one grave – that of Viscount Dundee – is known of the thousands who died at Killiecrankie, ’pits’ are an emotive subject.

HES in its objection to the proposal recommended that the ‘pits’ were investigated fully and that further archaeological surveys be done along the path of the proposed route. These have now been completed and though the final report is not yet available, the preliminary results showed no human remains.

While the latest archaeology resolves one question, it does not resolve the central issues raised by HES and the other 182 organisations, societies and individuals who submitted objections.  Transport Scotland has failed to explore every option to avoid damaging the battlefield.  Only when it can prove that these have been exhausted, is a developer allowed to make a damaging proposal.

You can sign the petition:

About KilliecrAnkie1689

KilliecrAnkie1689 is a new group that opposes how the planned dual carriageway is to be built on the Killiecrankie battlefield.

KilliecrAnkie1689 is in favour of upgrading the A9 in the interests of safety. But it wants the best route possible for the local community and one that fully respects the sensitive area of the battle site.

Tuesday 28 August 2018

New Release — The Du Lac Prophecy (Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles) By Mary Anne Yarde #KingArthur #Saxons #HistoricalFiction

The Du Lac Prophecy
(Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde

Two Prophesies. Two noble Households. One throne.

Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.

If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.


Alan frowned as he took his seat. His hair was damp from the rain that continued to pour down from the heavens. Before answering the King, he reached for the mead and filled up a goblet. His actions were slow and seemingly deliberate. But no one could drag their gaze away from him, for Alan had been part of the Breton army since the age of twelve. He knew things that they did not. All eyes watched Alan as he took a sip of his mead. Alan sighed in appreciation of the mead, and then he looked at James. “If it were Philippe, you were really talking about, then I would agree. He is a weak king and an appalling ruler. You may well be victorious before the sun set. But Philippe isn’t whom you are talking about. Philippe is not your concern. He is nothing. A puppet king at best. However, Mordred is no easy foe. And he has eyes everywhere. He sees all. He will see you coming.”

“He didn’t see you coming when you rescued Lady Amandine,” James replied, and a few of the knights murmured their agreement with their general.

“Maybe he did,” Alan allowed with a shrug.

Merton, who had been absentmindedly studying the reeds that were scattered on the floor, looked up sharply at that statement for he had not been expecting it.

“Maybe it was all part of his plan,” Alan continued. “Maybe we are playing right into his hands. Maybe we will all die.” Alan raised the goblet to his mouth again.

Merton frowned, and he saw that Yrre’s expression reflected his own. Mordred’s influence was significant, but surely not so significant as to be able to influence his enemies’ decisions? Was Mordred so astute at King’s Table that he could predict his opponents move before they had even thought of it?

Available on Kindle and in Paperback 

Mary Anne Yarde

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling Series — The Du Lac Chronicles. Set a generation after the fall of King Arthur, The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Briton and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed.

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

Catch up with The Du Lac Chronicles series on Amazon.

Monday 27 August 2018

Stop plans to build a High Speed Test Track on Bosworth Battlefield. #Bosworth #Tudors

Stop plans to build a High Speed Test Track on Bosworth Battlefield

I don’t usually post blogs about current affairs, but today I am making the exception. In recent months two of our most sacred battle sites are under threat from development. The first being Culloden Battlefield. You can read about the proposed development here. It has now come to my attention that there has been an application to build a driverless car track on part of the battlefield of Bosworth.

Now many people say that there is not one part of the British Isles that has not seen a battle and that we cannot be sentimental about the past. But in the case of both Culloden and Bosworth, I think we should be.

In the Battle of Culloden (16th April 1746) between 1500 to 2,000 Jacobites died. Culloden is their memorial. The Battle of Bosworth (22nd August 1485) was the climax to the War of the Roses. King Richard III was the last English monarch to die in battle. And while he cried:

"Traitor. Traitor. Traitor."

Henry VII took the throne from him, and so started the reign of the Tudors. 

I have been to Bosworth many times and to think that we could lose this heritage for our future generations is utterly heartbreaking. Richard III’s body was found under a car park, are we to allow the same sad fate to happen to the place where he and countless others died? I cannot understand why commerce should be allowed to destroy our heritage. Please, if you have a few minutes, support Diane Penn and sign this petition and save this monument for those who come after us. If a car park, where Richards III’s body was found, can be given scheduled monument status then surely the place where he died should also be protected. 

The Members of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council’s planning committee have been advised to grant permission for the venture which they will discuss tomorrow — Tuesday 28th August. It is not too late. We can stop this.

Sign the petition:

Thank you.