Since receiving a swathe of objections to its A9 dualling proposal in January 2018, Transport Scotland has been trying to address the big question of how to resolve the criticism of its treatment of the battlefield. It is impossible to square the circle. Transport Scotland has promoted a plan from an early stage that, on paper, looked better value but which abjectly failed to protect the historic environment let alone enhance it. The extent to which history and heritage has been sidelined is breathtaking. The all important Environmental Statement does not include the historic environment in the summary of issues that were taken into consideration for possible route alignments. It does not identify any benefits of the scheme for the historic environment. Nor does it include the historic environment in the list of stakeholders whose input influenced the design.

Northbound widening meant that monstrous amounts of infill could be used to build up the new lanes, verges and a lay-by to the level of the existing road. In addition, to ensure what design assessments call ‘a high quality visual experience’, even more earthworks were integrated into the design. By grading-out the slopes, the prominence of the new road could be softened. This mitigation, embedded at an early stage, also brought convenient cost benefits that were factored in at an equally early stage.

Historic Environment Scotland, whose early warning about earthworks was ignored, levelled many criticisms of the plan in its objection. There was only one point that Transport Scotland could afford to address – the size of the imprint on the battlefield - because all other criticisms related to decisions taken much earlier in the process. Thus the size of the imprint was reviewed. At a stroke, some 50,000m3 of landscape, visual and noise mitigation was scrapped. The road will now be prominent, protruding sharply from the downslope on the northbound side of the existing road and intensifying the severance (or detachment) of the battlefield in relation to key landscape characteristics. In spite of this change, Jacobs, the design engineers, say that the Environmental Statement’s impact assessments remain unchanged.

There are 4 measures used to shrink the imprint:
  • shorten the northbound slip road to the proposed Aldclune junction by about 240m;
  • steepen embankments dramatically, in the core area where fighting was concentrated;
  • replace a proposed bund, a solid mass of earth to protect residents from traffic noise, with two separate stone walls; (see Noise)
  • remove a proposed SuDS pond, an engineered drainage basin, from the core section of the battlefield and transferring the drainage to another battlefield SuDS pond whose capacity will double. (see Failures)
The new road will still be built over the sensitive core of the battlefield. This version of the design sinks to a new low. Not only does it compound the damage done in the 1970s when the original A9 was built but it manages to compound the damage that of the previous version was going to inflict. The steepening of the embankments to narrow the imprint fails to reduce the risk to the 5 historic assets identified in the objection of KilliecrAnkie1689:
  • Lagnabuaig Settlement and Redoubt. Jacobs continues to dismiss this from consideration because excavations done in 2003 found evidence of a barn used in the 19th century there. The Inventory states that while the barn is likely to post-date the Battle of Killiecrankie, the Lagnabuaig settlement features on Roy’s map, the earliest record available, in the 18th century. Perhaps Lagnabuaig was not present as a whole in 1689 but it is possible that some buildings there were used as sniping positions, according to the Inventory. As Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) data now shows, the Lagnabuaig area was heavily disturbed when the A9 was originally built.
  • The Memorial Cairn, sometimes called Tomb Clavers. The Glen Girnaig underpass will be reduced a little in size as the shorter slip road for the junction will now start after the bridge. The access road to the SuDS drainage pond edges closer to the road. The steeper embankments and loss of trees will have a more adverse impact on the character of the place where commemorative services are held and where people visit throughout the year to contemplate. Places for remembrance, especially on a battlefield, are extremely sensitive. It is hard to understand how the loss of the existing bund and removal of the replacement bund from the plans will not impact adversely on noise when taking into account that Low Noise Road Surface (LNRS) is already in place near the Memorial Cairn. (See Noise)
  • Raon Ruairidh Settlement and Redoubt. The removal of the bund and creation of steep embankments will release a ribbon of land approximately 22m wide that would otherwise be swallowed by the road scheme. This refinement belatedly acknowledges the importance of the key location in the battle. The Environmental Statement already recognised that graded out earthworks was going to reinforce the severance of Raon Ruairidh Redoubt from the area to the south. The refined design can only give further prominence to the A9 and worsen the severance of the most important part of the battlefield.
  • B-listed Garden and Wall at Urrard. The bottom of the newly proposed steep embankment will be a couple of metres from the wall. It is hard to see how Perth and Kinross Council can change its view that the proposed work will result in a permanent visual intrusion on the setting of the walled garden. It too may have to review the plan as there will be a noticeable loss of privacy, change in character and increase in noise.
  • The stepped terraces and terrain alongside the northbound carriageway of the A9 between the Garden Wall and the Girnaig. Our current understanding of the choreography of the battle has been strengthened by the archaeological surveys and the data now available online. This is the pivotal area of the battlefield where the outcome was decided. The design refinements will change the topography by obliterating the last remains of the terraced ground. It will aggravate an already adverse impact on a key landscape characteristic, affecting the integrity and legibility of this asset.

There is graphic information available in the Geographic Information System (GIS) online platform. It provides layers of 3D maps showing the results of archaeological and historical research together with the design refinements.

In their objections, the statutory consultees asked Transport Scotland to do much more. Transport Scotland could not address any of the issues because these are matters that should have been considered before it rejected all other options years ago. For details go the page