Memorial to Battle of Kilsyth

1st Marquis of Montrose Society organise historic event

BANTON Loch was the scene for commemoration of an important piece of national history on Saturday when a memorial cairn was unveiled to the dead of the Battle of Kilsyth.

A large crowd turned out to see the ceremony, organised by the 1st Marquis of Montrose Society.

The battle, part of a civil war raging throughout the British Isles, was fought on August 15, 1645, between Montrose's Royalists and a Covenanting army of General Baillie. It ended in complete victory for Montrose and his predominantly Highland and Irish army and heavy loss of life for the Covenanters. It was of immense, but often overlooked, national importance.

Most of the battlefield is now under Banton Loch and the cairn has been erected as near to the site as possible.

The company was welcomed by Lt Colonel M R McVittie of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, with which the area has a strong connection.

He said that the original impetus for the plan came from North Lanarkshire Council, who wanted to mark historical sites in their area. This accorded with the wishes of the 1st Marquis of Montrose Society to honour a great soldier and the men who died on both sides.

The cairn was unveiled by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, chief of Clan Macpherson. His son, Alan. who founded the 1st Marquis of Montrose Society in 1995, gave a graphic account of the battle, explaining why local features like Slaughter Howe were so called.

He told how the battle was the culmination of a brilliant campaign by Montrose to win Scotland back for King Charles 1. Historians believe many of the dead are buried nearby.

There were short addresses by Bruce Graham, chairman of the Clan Graham Association (Montrose was a Graham),Depute Provost Tom Curley of North Lanarkshire Council, MP Rosemary McKenna and MSP Catherine Craigie. Tom Myles of Cumbernauld Burns Club read a moving poem, The Graves of the Martyrs, and there was a Gaelic dedication by the Reverend Charles MacKinnon of Kilsyth Anderson Church.

The Reverend Donald MacInnes of St Columba's Church of Scotland, Glasgow, played a lament, and the Sealed Knot Society, complete in period costume, brought the proceedings to an end with a musket volley.

Among the invited guests were members of the Scottish Covenanter Memorials Association, local historians, and representatives of Kilsyth Community Council and local organisations.

The memorial is made of local whinstone and the plaque was made by Danny Rooney of Croy.

It contains the French phrase, Ne' oublie – never forget.

Margot Macmillan, chairman of Kilsyth Community Council, said afterwards: "|The ceremony was very meaningful and it is good to see this important part of our history being recognised in this way.

"The cairn would feature as one of the focal points on a Kilsyth Trail which it is hoped can be planned out in future."

Report: JOHN McILVEAN