THE National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is calling for an archaeological investigation to be carried out at a former farm on the Battle of Culloden Inventory Battlefield – before 16 homes are built there.
The conservation charity believes probing the top layers of Viewfield could unearth debris scattered by soldiers who fought and died there.
A spokesman for the organisation, which manages and owns the core battlefield, said the Jacobite left flank can clearly be seen from the proposed housing site, adding that the trust "of course remained unhappy" about the Scottish Government’s decision to grant permission to build homes in the area.
The call for ground investigations, also backed by Highland Council archaeologist Kirsty Cameron and Inverness West councillor Ken Gowans, comes ahead of a protest march planned for Saturday by campaigners who want the developers to sell the site to the NTS at an agreeable price – or bequeath it as a gesture of goodwill.
The long-running row over plans to build homes in the vicinity of the battlefield originally blew up in 2014 when the Scottish Government overruled Highland Council by handing permission to Inverness Properties to build 16 homes a quarter of a mile from the then Culloden Battlefield Conservation Area site.
If built, the homes will now be within Historic Scotland’s Battlefield Inventory Boundary, which defines the area in which the main events of the battle are considered to have taken place.
The row erupted again several weeks ago when it was reported that Viewhill was set to be sold to Aberdeen firm Kirkwood Homes, which lodged a fresh planning application.
Highland Council has postponed a decision until more details come back from the developer, although a spokeswoman said approval or rejection may be left up to a planning officer under delegated powers rather than being decided on by councillors themselves.
This has angered the 1745 Association which aims to safeguard Jacobite heritage.
Chairman Michael Nevin said he believes building homes on the site would be like "building a house on Glencoe where the massacre was, or in murderer Fred West’s garden".
George Kempick, leader of the Group to Stop Development at Culloden, said it was "disgusting" that it was not notified by the council when the fresh application was lodged.
However while Cllr Gowans said he empathised with protestors he also added that if the council’s planning manager decided the application should be decided by officials instead of councillors, then it was "beyond the ability of councillors" to overturn that decision.
The Group to Stop Development at Culloden will lead marchers at a protest against Kirkwood Homes’s proposals this Saturday, leaving from the entrance to the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre at 10am.