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Bid to put battlefield on the map fails as experts admit defeat

THE BATTLE in which King James III was killed will not yet feature in Scotland's Inventory of Historic Battlefields - because no-one knows exactly where it took place.
The Battle of Sauchieburn was fought on 11 June, 1488, apparently near the Sauchie Burn, a stream about two miles south of Stirling.

Accounts claim the battle involved as many as 30,000 troops under James III fighting a force of up to 18,000 led by the king's 15-year-old son, Prince James, Duke of Rothesay.

Prince James ascended to the throne, and reigned as James IV for 25 years. But throughout his reign he wore a heavy iron chain around his waist, next to the skin, as a constant weighty reminder of his role in his father's death.

In December, Historic Scotland revealed the first 17 nationally important sites for inclusion in the battlefields inventory, including the pivotal conflict at Bannockburn in 1314 and the last pitched battle fought in Scotland, at Culloden in 1746. The Battle of Sauchieburn was under consideration to join them as part of a second batch set to be revealed.

But a crucial requirement of inclusion in the inventory is that officials can map out boundaries of conflicts. And, despite its scale and huge significance, the Battle of Sauchieburn cannot be pinpointed on the map.

Stirling Council's archaeologist Lorna Main confirmed the battlefield was put forward for consideration - along with the Battle of Stirling Bridge - but had "dropped off".

But the site of William Wallace's victory at Stirling Bridge is expected to appear.

Ms Main said: "Clearly, the battlefield should be included in the inventory, but it cannot be included unless a boundary can be agreed. There is not a lot of information available on the exact site of the battle. It is not even marked on many maps."

Scottish ministers announced in 2009 that Historic Scotland would prepare a non-statutory inventory that identifies Scotland's nationally important battlefields and provides information on them to make sure they are looked after now and for future generations.

Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at Glasgow University, who has been researching sites earmarked for inclusion, said: "The battlefields inventory has to be a real tool, fit for purpose. The boundaries are meant to be a guide for planning authorities so that they can be taken into consideration during the planning process.

"There is no point in including battles if we can't say where they took place."
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