AN archaeological investigation should be carried out at a disused farm on the Battle of Culloden Battlefield site before new homes are built there, the National Trust for Scotland says.

The charity believes probing the top layers of Viewfield could unearth debris scattered by soldiers who fought there.

A spokesman for the trust, which manages and owns the battlefield, said the Jacobite left flank could clearly be seen from the proposed housing site, adding that the trust “of course remained unhappy” about the decision to grant permission to build 16 homes in the area.

The call for ground investigations, also backed by Highland Council archaeologist Kirsty Cameron and Inverness West councillor Ken Gowans, comes ahead of a protest march planned for Saturday by campaigners who want the developers to sell the site to the NTS – or bequeath it as a gesture of goodwill.

The long-running row over plans to build homes in the vicinity of the battlefield originally arose in 2014 when the Scottish Government overruled Highland Council by handing permission to Inverness Properties to build 16 homes a quarter of a mile from the then Culloden Battlefield Conservation Area site.

If built, the homes will now be within Historic Scotland’s Battlefield Inventory Boundary, which defines the area in which the main events of the battle are considered to have taken place.

The row erupted again several weeks ago when it was reported Viewhill was to be sold to Aberdeen firm Kirkwood Homes, which lodged a fresh planning application.

Highland Council has postponed a decision until more details come back from the developer, although the issue may be left up to a planning officer under delegated powers rather than being decided on by councillors themselves.

This has angered the 1745 Association which aims to safeguard Jacobite heritage.

Chairman Michael Nevin said he believes building homes on the site would be like “building a house on Glencoe where the massacre was, or in murderer Fred West’s garden”.

George Kempick, leader of the Group to Stop Development at Culloden, said it was “disgusting” that it was not notified of the fresh application.

However, while Cllr Gowans said he empathised with protestors he also added that if the council’s planning manager decided the application should be decided by officials instead of councillors, then it was “beyond the ability of councillors” to overturn that decision.

The Group to Stop Development at Culloden will lead the march against the new proposals on Saturday, leaving from the entrance to the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre at 10am.