View Full Version : Council seeks to bulldoze battlefield site and concrete over Scotlandís heritage

Monday, December 11th, 2006, 11:46 PM
This is particularly relevant to me as it's on my street. Our local council only seem to be interested in building more houses. Nothing is sacred anymore. They only worship money so what do they care?I expect most of the idiotic councillors are in the pockets of the developers. They probably all play golf together. Bloody tossers.

ONE of Scotland's most historic battlefields will be bulldozed to make way for a housing development if new proposals go ahead, breaking a long-standing commitment by the local authority to preserve the area and prompting international calls for tougher protection of important heritage sites.

A finalised plan by South Lanarkshire Council seeks to build 20 houses on the last unspoilt vestige of ground that staged the Battle of Bothwell Bridge, or Brig, in which an army of radical Presbyterian Covenanters was defeated in 1679 by government troops under the command of the Duke of Monmouth and around 700 people lost their lives.

The move has been condemned by the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association (SCMA), which has put forward a number of proposals to turn the field into a heritage site. David Bryce, SCMA vice-president, said: "These planners are living in a cultural dark age. They made no attempt to contact our association about this."

Local residents, too, are angry. Eric Denton, Bothwell Community Council chairman, said: "The proposal to allow housing development completely ignores the historical significance of the last small area associated with the battle. The field was used for many years as a place of pilgrimage and field worship to the memory of all who fell."

Around 1200 Covenanters were taken prisoner after the battle, many later executed or sold into slavery. Dr Louise Yeoman, a historian and broadcaster who is an expert on the Covenanters, said the battlefield "goes right to the heart of the key issues of today's post-9/11 world. Faith and resistance, radicals versus moderates, belief and violence all those issues are there and yet the local council seems to be choosing to build houses on them."

The historic value of the threatened site, known as Covenanters' Field, has been recognised since 1903, when annual commemorations began being held there. In 1987, the then Hamilton District Council took possession with a commitment to maintain it as open ground and look favourably on any heritage development.

In 1995, the year that South Lanarkshire Council came into being, a local authority planning report stated that Covenanters' Field was one of three specific sites in the village recognised as visitor attractions. The report added: "The council will co-operate with the relevant bodies to realise the potential of these sites and will promote the development of a Covenanters' trail centred on Bothwell."

But the latest local authority plan has earmarked Covenanters' Field for housing, prompting accusations that the council has reneged on its commitments.

South Lanarkshire rejected one of the SCMA's heritage proposals on the grounds of inadequate vehicle access, but Denton said the question of access "does not seem to be an obstacle to the proposal to allow 20 new houses to be built".

The threatened field, northeast of Bothwell Bridge, is listed by the Battlefield Trust and recognised internationally. David Speedie, special adviser to the president of the Carnegie Corporation in New York, which has a history of supporting US heritage sites, suggested the field's commercial tourism potential was being overlooked.

He said: "It is well worth preserving. When there is pressure on green spaces, there are some sites where the pay-off in terms of heritage development is greater than a couple of dozen houses. Once these heritage sites are lost, they're lost forever."

The Sunday Herald understands that a recent archaeological survey found musket balls in the field, where government troops began their advance and exchanged fire with Covenanters who were attempting to hold the bridge.

Historian Dr Fiona Watson said the proposal highlighted the need for a public debate on whether battlefields should be legally protected. She said: "We are currently failing to protect our battlesites in any kind of proactive or strategic fashion, but are forced to react to individual threats."

A South Lanarkshire Council spokeswoman said the plan had been made available for public consultation and several representations had been received, three in favour of building houses on Covenanters' Field and four against. She added: "The council is now examining all of the submitted representations to assess whether, in light of planning arguments raised, the local plan should be modified. Any such changes will subsequently be presented to planning committee for approval in the early part of next year."

http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1042288.0.council_seeks_to_b ulldoze_battlefield_site_and_concrete_ov er_scotlands_heritage.php