Public meeting will discuss battle site

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THE debate over the siting of the historical battle of Dún Nechtain and its inclusion on Historic Scotland’s Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Scotland will feature at a public meeting in Forfar this month.

Historic Scotland is hosting the public meeting at the Reid Hall in Forfar, on Thursday, May 10 at 7pm to present the results of research carried out on the seventh-century battle.

The battle in 685 AD marked a turning point in early Scottish history, when the Picts defeated a strong Northumbrian army, allowing the victors to expand their authority and become the dominant nation in northern Britain.

Historic Scotland has funded research to try to establish the location of the battlefield as part of its work for the Inventory of Historic Battlefields. It will present its findings at the Forfar meeting; representatives of Historic Scotland and the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology will then lead a discussion on the results of the research.

Olwyn Owen, head of the Historic Scotland team responsible for battlefields, said: “Dún Nechtain was an important battle because it changed the balance of power within Scotland at the time.

“Our difficulty lies in locating the battlefield in the modern landscape with sufficient confidence to allow it to be included in the Inventory.

“Accurate location is one of the key criteria for inclusion. Dún Nechtain is one of the earliest battles we have considered and, in common with other early battles, there is no physical evidence of the battlefield and very limited historical information to go on.

“We are delighted Dr Iain Banks of The Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, which has carried out the research for us, will be able to join us to talk through their findings.”

Dr Banks said: “We recognise the tremendous historical significance of the Battle of Dún Nechtain. This meeting is an important opportunity for people to offer us any further information or insights that we may have missed so far.

“We are keen to see any evidence that will inform our findings.”

Historic Scotland is soon to launch a public consultation on the third batch of sites proposed for the Inventory.

This will include a list of early sites which are recognised as nationally important events, but cannot be located on the basis of current knowledge.

These will be reviewed should further information come to light. The findings for Dún Nechtain will be included in the consultation, informed by the public meeting.

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 consultation begin on May 18, and runs for six weeks until the end of June.