HISTORIC Scotland have confirmed that the Battle of Dun Nechtain will not be included in their Inventory of Historic Battlefields at this time.
Attendees at a recent meeting held in Forfar heard from Dr Lesley Macinnes, who led on the creation of Historic Scotland’s Battlefield Inventory, and from Dr Iain Banks of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, which carried out most of the research for the Inventory.
The battle in 685 AD marked a turning point in early Scottish history, when the Picts defeated a strong Northumbrian army. This victory allowed the Picts to expand their authority and become the dominant nation in northern Britain.
Historic Scotland commissioned the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology to research the location of the battlefield as part of its work for the Inventory of Historic Battlefields. The meeting in Forfar was an opportunity to outline the findings.
Lesley Macinnes said: “I would like to thank everyone who attended the meeting and for their enthusiasm for seeing more research done to establish where the battle took place.
“The Battle of Dun Nechtain absolutely meets the Inventory criteria in being of national importance as a historical event. But with two different locations suggested for the battle – both with a reasonable claim to be the battle site – we cannot include the Battle of Dun Nechtain in the Inventory at this time.
“We appreciate this was disappointing news to all of those who attended, but I am really heartened that everyone felt that there was more that could be investigated. It was fortunate that there were also representatives at the meeting from Kincraig, the site further north that is also pointed to as a potential location.
“The possibility was mooted of a joint project between the two communities and we would be very interested to be kept up to date with how that develops. It is a true testament to the interest and historical knowledge of the campaigners for each location that they are willing to look at new options for carrying out new research.”
Dr Iain Banks of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology carried out the research for the site.
He said: “The situation we have is that there is no conclusive evidence to allow us to specify the location. With such an early battle archaeological evidence is going to be scarce and the written archives only reference vague topographical reference points.
“If the community here was able to work with their counterparts in Kincraig to investigate both sites, we could learn much more about each area and, if we were very lucky, resolve the location of this important turning point in the history of Scotland.”
A consultation on 11 other battlefield sites which may be added to the Inventory is being launched by Historic Scotland on May 18 and will run for six weeks.
To be included in the Inventory, a battlefield site must be considered nationally important for its contribution to Scotland’s history and archaeology, and it must also be possible to provide a map of its location based on robust evidence. The Inventory takes account both of physical remains and the landscape context. The boundaries of battlefields in the Inventory must be recorded on a modern map to allow them to be protected through the planning system.
A number of other early battles also cannot be included in the Inventory at the moment, but, as at Dun Nechtain, these can be reconsidered if evidence comes to light in the future.