A curious mix of eerie and emotional, battlefields are undeniably interesting places. Scotland is not short of bloody history, as Outlaw King shows – with 40 sites of violent clashes across the country being officially recognised in Scotland's Inventory of Historic Battlefields. By all means explore all of them, but if you have a little less time on your hands then we have rounded up the ten must-see.

1. Battle of Bannockburn

Glasgow Road, Whins Of Milton, Stirling, Stirlingshire

Open every day, 10am-5.30pm (March-October) and 10am-5pm (November-March)

Adult £11.50, Child/concession £8.50, National Trust Scotland members free

01786 812 664


Undoubtedly one of the country’s most famous battles, Robert the Bruce’s meeting with the English at Bannockburn saw one of the most significant Scottish victories in the Wars of Independence. Robert led his army against England’s King Edward II to try and break their siege at Stirling Castle, and ended up inflicting a catastrophic defeat that culminated in the Declaration of Arbroath and Scottish independence. Despite being such a significant battle it has left few lasting traces, so the Bannockburn experience focuses around a state-of-the-art visitor centre. Featuring fully-immersive 3D technology, it brings the fighting to life by letting visitors take command of their own virtual battlefield, interact with soldiers on either side of the battle, and then witness Bruce’s decisive victory against the odds.

2. Glencoe Massacre Monument

8 Upper Carnoch, Glencoe Village

Glencoe is one of the most stirring places in Scotland, with the spectacular stillness of the hills having an undeniable effect on visitors’ emotions. Yet even more moving is the history behind the landscape, when 38 members of clan MacDonald were killed by government forces. In 1692 MacDonalds were shot down and burned in their houses for failing to be prompt in swearing their allegiance to the monarch, and to mark their memory a small but poignant monument sits at the end of a path leading out of Glencoe village. It might not be the largest of battle sites, but in the ultimate modern seal of approval the site was awarded a certificate of excellence by Tripadvisor.

3. Culloden

Culloden Moor, Culloden, Inverness

Visitor centre open every day, 9am-6pm (until 1st November, then 10am-4pm)

Adult £11, concession £9.50

01463 796090


The harsh, marshy stretches of land that form the site of Culloden prove to be a sobering sight for any visitor, as the bleakness of battle and lives lost becomes apparent. In 1746 Culloden was the site of the last Jacobite rising, as more than 1500 Jacobites were slain in less than an hour by British government troops, with as few as 50 dying on the government side. While Culloden has a superb visitor centre, it is the battlefield itself that really gives you a sense of the conflict. Flags mark the position of the two armies, the uneven nature of the battleground becomes apparent, and headstones give a sense of the loss inflicted by bearing the names of the clans.

4. Battle of Pinkie Cleugh

Inveresk, Musselburgh, East Lothian

Although not well known to most people, the Battle of Pinkie is highly significant in Scottish history as the last pitched between Scottish and English armies. In 1547 the English Duke of Somerset wanted to create an alliance with Scotland, but the Scottish Parliament was less willing – so he gathered around 18,000 troops to march north where they were met by Scottish forces on the banks of the River Esk. The Scots quickly came under fire not only from artillery but English ships in the Firth of Forth, and an estimated 6,000 were killed as they tried to retreat. Today most of the battlefield remains intact, with the site marked by a two-kilometre walking trail that has information panels about the battle.

5. Battle of Largs

Bowen Craig, Largs, Ayrshire

Upon visiting the tourist town of Largs you wouldn’t expect it to be the site of a dramatic Viking battle. But that’s exactly what happened in 1263, when the Scots fought King Haakon’s Norwegian forces, ultimately ending Viking rule along Scotland’s west coast as Haakon was forced to retreat to Orkney where he later died. In a rare battle on our list that wasn’t between the Scots and the English, Largs proved to be the last time that Norwegian forces mounted a military assault on Scotland after previously controlling all of the Hebrides and Cumbrae and Bute. The site is marked by the Pencil, a popular local landmark built in 1912 to provide a focal point to the battle.

6. Battle of Killiecrankie

Killiecrankie, Pitclochry, Perthshire

Open every day, 10am-5pm (until 1st October, then 11am-4pm)

Free entry

01796 473233


Visiting now, this woodland gorge seems like the last place you would associate with a bloody battle. But on 27 July 1689, the Pass of Killiecrankie was the scene of one of the deadliest conflicts in Scottish history – between the Jacobites and the Williamite government of the day. It was the opening battle of the first Jacobite Rising, and left them victorious though they suffered the loss of their commander Viscount Dundee. If you visit the Pass, begin at the visitor centre to learn about the history of the fighting, before heading to the Soldier’s Leap, where a fleeing English soldier allegedly jumped 18ft across the River Garry to escape the Scots. If you reckon you could have done the same, you can safely try to jump the distance yourself in the stone circle outside the visitor centre.

7. Battle of Stirling Bridge

Bridgehaugh Road, Stirling

Stirling Bridge is one of the most famous battles in Scottish history – even featuring in Hollywood blockbuster Braveheart – where William Wallace won his first great victory against the English. Along with his co-commander Andrew Moray, Wallace and his troops waited until the English army had crossed the narrow bridge and then stormed forward to trap them. Save for a small placard there isn’t much evidence of the battle on the bridge itself, but you will feel a certain poignancy upon standing on it and reflecting on its historical significance.

8. Battle of Prestonpans

Battlefield Viewpoint, Meadowmill, off the B1361, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Open every day


Before their dramatic demise at Culloden the Jacobites came very close to winning their cause, and the 1745 victory at Prestonpans was a crucial battle. It was where Bonnie Prince Charlie won his first victory: as the Jacobites stormed to unexpected success over the redcoat soldiers of General Sir John Cope. The site today has a large pyramid mound that gives panoramic views around the battlefield: which can then be explored on foot while looking out for the stone monuments and interpretation boards. For those wanting a more modern battlefield experience, you can download a free app to guide you round the site.

9. Battle of Loudon Hill

Loudon Hill, East Ayrshire

Rather confusingly there are two famous battles alleged to have been fought at Loudon Hill: one real and one apparently fictional. The real battle was in 1307 between Robert the Bruce and the English, commanded by Aymer de Valence, where Bruce was triumphant and secured his first major military victory. The more dubious battle was one allegedly waged by William Wallace in 1296: the basis of which was based on a lengthy poem written by ‘Blind Harry’, who may have attributed Bruce’s victory to the wrong man. Despite the historical confusion, there is a striking five-metre high sculpture dedicated to Wallace that sits in the glen of Loudon Hill, built by sculptor Richard Price in 2004. Regardless of who was actually in battle the sculpture is nonetheless an impressive sight, with Wallace’s outline seemingly smashing through the huge steel structure.

10. Battle of Glen Shiel

Glenshiel, Highlands

In one of the earlier Jacobite uprisings, this 1719 battle saw the addition of Spanish troops supporting the Stuart claim to the crown – but the outcome was still defeat for the rebels. Despite having fewer men the government forces killed many Jacobites and took 274 Spanish prisoners, proving to be the last time that British and foreign troops were engaged on fighting on the mainland. Today the site is marked by information panels set into a stone wall in the foot of the glen, and the mountain on whose flanks they fought is named Sgurr nan Spainteach, or Peak of the Spaniards.