ARCHAEOLOGISTS working at the scene of the battle that ended Scotland’s “forgotten” Jacobite uprising have uncovered historic remains at the site for the first time.

Today marks the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Glen Shiel where a force of over 1000 Jacobites, including troops sent from Spain, attempted to reclaim the throne for James Francis Edward Stuart.

The team, which is being led by the National Trust for Scotland, uncovered several large fragments of a coehorn mortar shell that was fired at Lord George Murray and the Jacobite right wing on the knoll south of the River Shiel. A musket ball fired by government forces at the Jacobites was also uncovered. The coehorn was a small squat gun that could lob shells in high arcs on to the Jacobite and Spanish positions, causing noise and explosions that likely created disorder and panic among some of the Jacobites. One reference suggests the grass and heather was set alight by the red-hot fragments.

It was the first time that the device was used on British soil. The discovery of the mortar shells also confirms the interpretation of a smaller fragment found on the north side of the river last year.

To mark the anniversary, archaeologists and volunteers signed up for the National Trust for Scotland’s Thistle Camp, working holidays which are run by the conservation charity. They have been excavating an area where the Spanish troops were positioned. The team soon picked up a signal with metal detectors and carefully dug out a flattened musket ball.

The National: The flattened musket ballThe flattened musket ball

“This is the first positive piece of evidence that we have found from the battle,” said the trust’s head of archaeology, Derek Alexander.

“We were excavating just below the Spanish position, where there is quite a large outcrop of bedrock with a vertical face. We picked up a strong signal with the metal detector and, working with Historic Environment Scotland, we were allowed to excavate four or five objects. The first that we looked at was the musket ball.

“It had been fired from below, up at the Spanish position. It hit the bedrock, flattened and fell to the ground and lay there for 300 years.”

In the wake of the defeat the Jacobites scattered, with several of their leaders going back into exile on the continent. Tests will now be carried out to determine the calibre of the ball and just who fired it, with government troops using a variety of muskets or carbines, helping historians to create a fuller picture of just what happened that day.

Alexander added: “Finds like this are really important. They are the tangible remains of historic events, which can be quite rare. When we hold something in our hands that we know came from a single event, 300 years ago – that’s incredibly powerful.”

The anniversary was marked by a gathering of clans on the site.