Inventory Battlefield

Battle of Rullion GreenBTL27

Date of Battle: 28 November 1666

Status: Designated


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Designation Record and Full Report Contents

  • Name
  • Summary Information
  • Overview and Statement of Significance
  • Inventory Boundary
  • Historical Background to the Battle
    • The Armies
    • Numbers
    • Losses
    • Action
    • Aftermath and Consequences
  • Events and Participants
    • Context
  • Battlefield Landscape
    • Location
    • Terrain
    • Condition
  • Archaeological and Physical Remains and Potential
  • Cultural Association
    • Commemoration and Interpretation
  • References


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
NT 22111 62840
322111, 662840

Overview and Statement of Significance

The Battle of Rullion Green is significant as the only battle 1666 Covenanter rebellion, also known as the Pentland Rising. It ends the uprising and results in a period of violent repression against the Covenanters.

The battle of Rullion Green was the first and only battle of the Pentland Rising. A Covenanter army under the command of Colonel James Wallace had risen in south-west Scotland and had advanced to Edinburgh to attempt to win support, all the while pursued by a Government army sent after them under Sir Thomas Dalziel. The Government finally caught up to the Covenanters at Rullion Green and defeated them after a stiff fight.

Inventory Boundary

The Inventory boundary defines the area in which the main events of the battle are considered to have taken place (landscape context) and where associated physical remains and archaeological evidence occur or may be expected (specific qualities). The landscape context is described under battlefield landscape: it encompasses areas of fighting, key movements of troops across the landscape and other important locations, such as the positions of camps or vantage points. Although the landscape has changed since the time of the battle, key characteristics of the terrain at the time of the battle can normally still be identified, enabling events to be more fully understood and interpreted in their landscape context. Specific qualities are described under physical remains and potential: these include landscape features that played a significant role in the battle, other physical remains, such as enclosures or built structures, and areas of known or potential archaeological evidence.

The Inventory boundary for the Battle of Rullion Green is defined on the accompanying map and includes the following areas:

  • The low ground which takes in the route of the A702 and which in part follows a Roman Road. This is most likely the route followed by Wallace's Covenanters prior to their arrival at Rullion Green and their subsequent move onto the higher ground.
  • The southern end of Glencorse where the Glencorse Burn debouches into a more open plain, though still overlooked by hills to the north and south. Dalziel's force advanced to contact through the glen and a preliminary skirmish was fought somewhere within this area prior to the retreat of Dalziel's vanguard onto the low ground on the north side of the burn, where they awaited the arrival of the main force.
  • The southern and eastern flanks of Turnhouse Hill, which may have accommodated the skirmish but were also occupied by the left flank of the Covenanter army.
  • The western flank of Lawhead Hill was occupied by the main body of the Covenanter force, and is now the location of the Marytyr's Monument, while the terrace centred on the 70 metre contour accommodated Dalziel's troops once they had moved uphill from the valley floor to the east. The area to the west of these locations, within the vicinity of the farm of Rullion Green may have been the location of the Covenanter camp prior to the battle.
  • The Covenanters are likely to have fled to the west and possibly to the north over the summit of Turnhouse Hill.

Historical Background

Wallace and the Covenanter army had marched to Edinburgh with the hope of being reinforced with supplies and volunteers. The Covenanters halted at Colinton, south west of the city, on 27 November. However, no support was forthcoming from Edinburgh, which was raised in alarm against a rumoured invasion and Wallace's army reluctantly turned from the capital, wishing to retreat to the safety of the west, their staunchest support base. The way west, however, was blocked by Dalziel's army and the insurgent force headed east and then south toward Biggar via the Linton Road (roughly the direction of the current A702), using the line of the Pentland Hills as cover. Major General William Drummond, who commanded the vanguard of Dalziel's army, had intended to engage the insurgents outside Edinburgh but upon learning of their directional change, he was able to anticipate their new objective. He intercepted the Covenanter force in Glencorse Parish, where Wallace's army had halted at Rullion Green to rest and to wait for stragglers. Having sighted a small forward party of government cavalry, Wallace arranged his infantry on the eastern slope of Turnhouse Hill flanked on either side by troops of horse.

A skirmish with Dalziel's vangaurd occurred to the north-east of Wallace's main position. Repelling this attack, the Covenanters waited on their strong, high ground as Dalziel's full force assembled across the glen. Once Dalziel's vanguard and his main body of cavalry and infantry were united, they forded the Glencorse River and arrayed themselves against the Covenanters at the bottom of Turnhouse Hill. From this position Dalziel attacked Wallace's left three times, only managing to turn the line in the final attempt by pushing forward his full force along the entirety of Wallace's line. The Covenanters, unable to reinforce their weak right side and thrown into confusion, broke and fled into the night.

The Armies

The Covenanter army was led by Colonel James Wallace and consisted of a mixture of cavalry and infantry armed with muskets and swords. The Government army was led by General Thomas Dalziel of Binns and Major-General William Drummond; it consisted of experienced cavalry and infantry using swords and muskets.


Covenanters: Estimates of numbers for the Covenanting insurgents vary. Historian C.S. Black quotes a force of 3000 marching to Edinburgh, but shrinking to less than 1000 by the time they encamp at Colinton (Black 1936). Other numbers are much more conservative. Terry's estimates, tabulated from a variety of primary sources, are 350 horse and 200 foot at the initial muster at Irongray. By 21 November he cites Sir James Turner's estimate that the numbers were over 700 only to be swelled by 100 additional men and 15-16 horse the next day (Terry 1905). Terry suggests that the total number of the insurgent force reached its peak at Lanark and never exceeded 1100. Drummond insists that on 28 November he faced a Covenanter force of 1500-1600 (Sidgwick 1906: 452), though Wallace estimates his army to be only 800-900 at Colinton the day before the battle, '...and these most part without arms, and now being out of expectation of any supplies....' (Wallace 1825: 413)

Government: Estimates for Dalziel's army are thought to be up to three times that of Wallace's, numbering 2000-3000.


Wallace and Kirkton claim that the Covenanters lost 50 killed during the fighting, including several high-profile organisers of the rebellion, such as John Cruickshank and Andrew McCormick (Terry 1905). Wallace estimates that 80 of his men were taken prisoner, while Drummond raises that estimate to 140 (Terry 1905; Sidgwick 1906). Government losses are thought to have been minimal.


After two weeks of marching and manoeuvring throughout the countryside of southern Scotland, the two armies met near Rullion Green on the afternoon of 28 November 1666. After halting to rest, the Covenanters observed an approaching party of government cavalry and Wallace quickly marched his men behind the cover of Lawhead Hill and arrayed them on the slopes of Turnhouse Hill. He positioned Barscobe's horse on the right flank with Learmont commanding the main body of horse on the left flank on 'a high steep shoulder' (in Terry 1905, 68) on the northern portion of the hill ' the direction from which the government troops were arriving. Veitch describes the day of battle as Wallace's forces

'leaving the highway, and marching up their body to the middle of the hill, and a select party of horse to the top. It was about twelve of the clock, the 28th day of November 1666: it having been snow and frost the night before, the day was pretty clear and sunshine' (Veitch 1825: 41).

There was an initial skirmish between the small government party and a portion of Wallace's left in which the forces exchanged a volley of fire before meeting hand-to-hand. Drummond's troops, cautiously wanting to wait for the arrival of their main body, retreated to the western banks of the Glencorse and then retired across the burn, where it would be joined by the cavalry. According to Major-General Drummond,

'Our fore party of about 100 horse discovered them on their march towards Linton the bigger way near a place called Glencors kirk' and then 'with great boldnes sett upon them, & endured the danger to face all their strength, horse & foot, untill Our Cavalry farre behind came up' (Sidgwick 1906: 452).

Wallace describes the opening encounter as follows:

...[T]here was a great glen betwixt us, so as neither of us could have access to other. There we stood brandishing our swords. Now their foot was not come up, only were coming. A party of their horse (I think to the number of fifty or thereabout) seeing they could not come at us here, they take away westward. A party of ours, much to the same number, were commanded to march the same way. Both parties marches thus along the side of their own hill, towards an even place of ground, to which both of them came. They were not long asunder, when once they were there. After they had discharged their fire, they closed, and for a considerable time stand dealing with swords; at last the enemy runs; and, if they had not retired by a way that there was no dealing with them, alongst the side of a steep hill, it is like there had not many of them gone home (Wallace 1825: 416).

It was late in the afternoon before Dalziel's infantry arrived and the combined force marched south eastward along the Glencorse before fording it near Flotterstone and approaching the Covenanter army. Dalziel's army arrayed itself at the bottom of Turnhouse Hill, facing westward. Though the infantry was in the centre of the line, it was kept in reserve until late in the battle. The cavalry was arranged with the Life Guards, Rothe's and Drummond's troops at the right and Dalziel's, Hamilton's, Atholl's and Airlie's at the left (Terry 1905).

Wallace gives an account of Dalziel's movements after the initial skirmish and the arrangement of the government army at the base of Turnhouse Hill:

They being beaten back thus with some loss of men on both hands, there was a party of our foot commanded toward that place where they and the rest of their horse stood, being no ways accessible for horse to do them any hurt. Upon the foot's approach they were forced to quit that side of the glen that lay on the west hand and to go over to the east side of the glen, where they stayed till their foot came up. In this condition we stood foreagainst other: neither of us could well come at other where we stood. When their foot came up, their whole horse and foot came down off the hill towards a moor beneath us on our right hand; and there they drew up in battle array, thinking to provoke us to quit our ground, and to fight them on even ground. We perceiving how numerous they were, being at least (whatever they were more) in all three times our number, resolved we would not quit our ground. There we stood only fronting other. After this, we perceive a party of their horses on their right hand advancing towards us (Wallace 1825: 417).

After establishing his position at the bottom of Turnhouse Hill, Dalziel sent a portion of his right to engage Wallace's left. Maitland of Hatton estimates about 50 horse along with a small party of foot were sent forward (Terry 1905). Wallace sent a similar amount of men and horses down the hill to meet the government force. After discharging their firearms, they commenced with swords and overwhelmed by Wallace's stronger position, Dalziel's men were forced to retreat back down the hill. Veitch's account states that

'Drummond and his party were instantly beat back to the great confusion and consternation of their army; hundreds whereof, as they were following disorderly through the hill sides, threw down their arms and ran away....' (Veitch 1825: 41).

In contrast to Veitch's assertions of his enemy's flight, Dalziel immediately initiated another attack against Wallace's left. However, this second attack against Wallace's left was again unsuccessful. In the attempt Dalziel nearly lost the Duke of Hamilton, who needed to be rescued from the melee. Drummond describes the second attack, stating

'we fought obstinately a long time wth swords untill they mixed like chessmen in a bag, wee advanced Our right wing & they their left to give reliefe, there againe it was disputed toughly...' (Sidgwick 1906: 452).

Finally, a third attempt on the Covenanters' left was made, with Dalziel committing the remainder of his cavalry. On this third attempt, Learmont's cavalry was driven back up the hill to its original position. During the confusion created by the retreat of Learmont's cavalry, Dalziel sent forward the rest of his line (the left of which had not yet been engaged). Wallace's army, preoccupied with the situation on its left flank, struggled to reinforce its right and the line collapsed under the weight of Dalziel's attack:

'... [T]heir right wing of horse came from their ground foolishly & crosses their foot,'' 'apprehending their left wing to bee in distresse, wherein they were mistaken....' (Sidgwick 1906: 452).

Veitch describes the action as

'the enemy's [the government's] foot, being flanked with their horses on each side, firing upon the Whigs broke their ranks, their horses not being used with fire; then the troops upon the right wing of the enemy broke in upon them and pursued them; and had taken and killed many more, if the night had not prevented them' (Veitch 1825: 43).

The line broken, the Covenanters fled chaotically into the darkness of the hills. Drummond describes the rout:

[W]ee pursued in the dark, killed all the foot & but for the night & steep hills had wholy destroyed them, Some prisoners there are fitt for examples, I know not how many but I conjecture not above 140, for there was sound payment, Our losse I cannot tell, but it is greater then many of their Skins were worth.... (Sidgwick 1906: 452).

Aftermath & Consequences

The Covenanter defeat at Rullion Green ended the spontaneous Pentland Rising. The failure of the rising is perhaps unsurprising, but the Covenanters' lengthy and rapidly-paced march throughout southern Scotland and their stubborn defence in the face of Dalziel's superior government force attest to their strength of conviction and to the skill of their commander, Wallace. The rising was swiftly followed by harsh government reprisals. Though indemnity was offered to participants in 1667, the respite was brief; a brutal campaign of religious suppression commenced once more in the 1670s.

Events & Participants

Sir Thomas Dalziel had a long and illustrious military career behind him by the time of Rullion Green. He accompanied Charles I to La Rochelle in 1628 to aid the Huguenots at the age of 13, fought on the Royalist side through the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Ulster and was captured at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. He had to flee Scotland in 1654 after being involved in a Highland rising against Cromwell after which a price of 200 guineas was offered for him dead or alive. He went to Russia and saw service for the Tsar of Russia in the Russo-Polish War and against the Turks and the Tartars. He returned to Scotland on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, becoming Commander-in-Chief of the army in Scotland in 1666 with orders to suppress the Covenanters. His actions in the wake of the Pentland Rising earned him the sobriquet 'Bluidy Tam'. According to one story, Sir Thomas on one occasion played cards with the Devil and won. He was replaced as Commander-in-Chief by the Duke of Monmouth in 1679, and despite being reinstated by Charles II, did not appear at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge until after the fighting was over. In 1681, he was the first Colonel of the Royal Scots Greys Regiment, which was originally constituted as a dragoon regiment.

James Wallace, commander of the Covenanter forces at Rullion Green, also had a long military career, first serving in the Parliamentarian and then Covenanter armies during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. He was captured during the Battle of Kilsyth in 1645 while fighting against Montrose and then again at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, where he was serving in the Scottish army of the restored Charles II. The Pentland Rising brought Wallace out of retirement and after escaping the field of Rullion Green he went into exile in Holland, where he died in 1678.


Scotland's history in the 17th century was very different from that of England. The struggle over religion, which was a struggle for political control, began earlier in Scotland with the Bishops' Wars in 1638 and 1640, and continued through the upheavals of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1641-53), to the Jacobite risings that ran from 1689 into the middle of the 18th century. The Covenanter movement was one part of this long civil war, beginning in the period of the Bishops' Wars and ending in the reign of James II at the battle of Bothwell Bridge.

The Covenanters were those who supported the position that any changes in the Government of church or state could only take place after the approval of free Parliaments and General Assemblies of the church. In 1638, this was a compromise position that united moderates and radicals against the intransigence of Charles I in his attempts to impose the Book of Common Prayer on the Scottish Church. The subtext to the whole situation was that Charles and the Royalist cause stood for royalist absolutism and the Divine Right of Kings to rule; the Covenant stood for limitations through elected bodies on the power of the crown. These positions were irreconcilable and led to war, which continued after the execution of Charles and the coronation of his son, Charles II, who unsuccessfully tried to claim the throne in 1650 from Scotland. His first attempt at restoration failed at the battle of Worcester in 1651.

The victory at Worcester, which ended the fighting of the Second English Civil War, brought a temporary end to the fighting in Scotland. The effect was to increase the tensions within the Covenanter movement, as moderates and radicals found that with no common enemy, the factions now began to fall upon each other. This factionalism had been a longstanding problem and had undermined Leslie's army at the battle of Dunbar in 1650 (where those of insufficiently moral character were sent away; unfortunately, that included many of the most experienced troops). This was worsened by the Restoration in 1660, when Charles II was invited back to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. In the course of the Restoration, many scores were settled, and Royalists took a harsh revenge on their Presbyterian enemies.

The Restoration was initially accepted, at least grudgingly by all but the more radical elements of the Covenanters. Various individuals that had been particularly prominent in pressing the radical position were executed, but that would have been relatively unproblematic had matters rested. However, the forces of reaction were not content and they pushed for a reversal of all that had changed since the 1630s; in particular, ministers were required to accept the imposition of episcopacy or be excommunicated.

The Pentland Rising began in the Presbyterian stronghold of western Scotland in the southern shires of Kirkcudbright, Ayr and Dumfries on 13 November 1666. It was sparked by an incident in Dalry when government troops were ordered to destroy the crops of an elderly dissenter who had refused to pay the fines levied upon him for non-attendance at church. Upon being informed that the government troops had the old man in custody and were planning to punish him corporally, Maclellan of Barscobe and several local Covenanters made an armed intervention, wounding one government soldier and taking several others prisoner (Terry 1905). Word of the event spread quickly and within a few hours a conventicle gathered near Balmaclellan similarly took into custody a number of government soldiers who were quartered in the locality. Barscobe, having thus embroiled himself and his companions in direct action against the government and fearing reprisal, decided to go a step further.

As news of the events at Dalry spread, a call to arms circulated throughout the south west. On 14 November, Covenanter insurgents gathered at Irongray Kirk and set off the next day for Dumfries, where they took as their prisoner Sir James Turner, the local authority responsible for meting out punishment to Presbyterian non-conformists. They also seized much-needed weapons before returning to Dalry early on 16 November, via a short sojourn at the kirk in Glencairn. The march was renewed late that night and the insurgent army pushed to Carsphairn. It was on 16 November that official word of the events in Dalry and Dumfries reached the Privy Council in Edinburgh and General Thomas Dalziel of Binns was ordered to Glasgow to muster a force to deal with the Covenanters.

The Covenanters kept on the move. On 18 November they marched to Dalmellington and onward to Tarbolton the next day, where they were joined by men from Ayrshire and Clydesdale. Rather than press on to Glasgow, where Dalziel was rumoured to be, the Covenanters marched to Ayr on 20 November. The force gathered at Bridge of Doon (though Turner calls it Afton Bridge, both Kirkton and Wallace name Doon, see footnote 2 in Terry 1905: 25) on 21 November, where they were joined by the man who would take command of the army, Colonel James Wallace, who had fought in the Parliamentary army during the Civil Wars. They then moved to Ochiltree on 22 November where they were joined by recruits from Galloway. Worried that Dalziel was on the march from Glasgow to meet them, the insurgents pressed onwards to Muirkirk via a stop at Cumnock on 23 November just as Dalziel's army reached Kilmarnock. They reached Douglas on the night of 24 November as Dalziel reached Strathaven. Immediately upon the following day, Wallace's Covenanters moved through Lesmahagow and forded the Clyde at Lanark. They left Lanark on 26 November headed for Bathgate, now with Dalziel in hot pursuit. Early on 27 November, the Covenanters halted at Newbridge, having lost many of their strength as men struggled to keep pace or deserted. That night Wallace moved his force to Colinton near Edinburgh, where he hoped to receive reinforcements and new recruits. No help was forthcoming, however, and Dalziel was close at hand. On the 28 November, a party from Edinburgh skirmished with Wallace's watch in the early morning hours. Though the attack was repulsed, it was deemed necessary to move the Covenanting army out of Colinton with due haste back to the safety of the west. The route westward was blocked by Dalziel's army, so instead Wallace moved his forces south eastward, behind the line of the Pentland Hills which shielded them from Dalziel. They departed from Colinton on the morning of 28 November and would be met by Dalziel's army later that afternoon at Rullion Green.

The Scottish royalist Government varied between leniency (such as the Indulgence of 1669, which allowed ministers to return to the church without having to swear loyalty to the Episcopal system) and repression. However, as the conventicles spread in popularity, repression became the more frequent, and Government troops attacked the conventicles with lethal force.

The skirmish at Drumclog on 1 June 1679 was one such attempted suppression of a conventicle. A small mounted Government force under Claverhouse was routed by a much larger body of Covenanters, partly as a result of Claverhouse's mistakes. The event was to inspire a dramatic upsurge in the number of people willing to take up arms for the Covenanting cause, being seen by many as a mark of divine favour. It also convinced the Government that it had a major rebellion on its hands, especially after the Covenanters went on to assault Glasgow. Lord Linlithgow, commander-in-chief of the king's forces in Scotland, raised a militia army in Edinburgh. By the middle of June, no fewer than 7,000 rebels were gathered on Hamilton Muir on the south side of the Clyde in the vicinity of Bothwell Bridge. However, the new army was riven with disagreement and spent more time debating the finer points of Presbyterian dogma than readying themselves for battle ' and in any case a large faction of the force were of a more moderate disposition and did not believe that fighting was an appropriate response to their situation. For many, the initial enthusiasm was not to survive the offer of clemency upon surrender of the cause offered by the Duke of Monmouth, who had been sent north by the King to bolster the resolve of the ineffectual Lord Linlithgow. On his arrival in Edinburgh on 18 June, Monmouth took command of a small force of regular troops bolstered by militia, which in total gave him a force of some 5,000 men.

Monmouth's force defeated the Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge, bringing to a close the last of the Covenanter uprisings, and sparking another period of brutal retribution against them. However, just 10 years later the Glorious Revolution brought the Protestant William of Orange to the throne, and the Covenanters themselves were finally able to escape the decades of persecution they had suffered under his Stuart predecessors.

Battlefield Landscape

A detailed analysis of the contemporary accounts, first attempted by Terry places the location of the action on Turnhouse Hill (1905). Although he was very confident about the various positions the location of the main battle is perhaps more readily identifiable than the initial skirmish, which took place on the lower slopes, somewhere in the vicinity of the mouth of the valley of Glencorse and saw Dalziel's advanced party beaten back across the river.

The Covenanters had the advantage of high ground but Dalziel was able to establish a firm footing on a terrace below Wallace's position, but this was only gained after a stiff climb from the valley bottom after leaving the enclosed surroundings of Glencorse. The Covenanters appear to have been deployed in an almost semi-circular formation distributed across the flanks of Turnhouse Hill to the north and Lawhead Hill to the west.

At the time of the battle the area was largely free of enclosure but today much of the battlefield is given over to fenced fields, which represent a mix of arable, on the lower slopes, and grazing on the upper. Blocks of forestry occupy the upper slopes and these may in part cover the Covenanter positions.


In 1905 Terry did an in-depth assessment of the documentary sources of Rullion Green, and rather than just transcribing the battle narrative, he tried to place the battlefield within the physical landscape. He suggests the most probable location for the battle as Turnhouse Hill.

He points out that neither Groome's 1901 Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland nor Hill Burton's nineteenth-century History of Scotland could pinpoint a suitable locale to fit contemporary descriptions of 'a ridge running north and south, and rising abruptly on the north end' (Terry 1905: 65). Sir James Turner, captive of the Covenanters, mentions Wallace's march around the back of 'the Gallow Law' (ibid.: 64), which Terry interprets to be Lawhead Hill, before taking up the position on Turnhouse Hill. He cites Maitland of Hatton's account of the battle in the Lauderdale Papers, where the location is described as

'on the syd off the turnehous hill, which is the westmost, greatest and highest off pentlanhills, and the tope off it doeth just resemble to the tope off Arthur's seat' (ibid.: 66).

Drummond simply describes the battle site as being where he intercepted the Covenanters 'on their march towards Linton the bigger way near a place called Glencors kirk' (Sidgwick 1906: 452). Likewise, Wallace describes the route taken by Dalziel's forces as coming 'through a glen that comes from Calder through Pentland Hills towards Pennicuick' (Wallace 1825: 415).

Veitch describes Wallace's route from Colinton through the Pentlands as 'going out by Libberton Kirk, towards the House of the Muir...' (Veitch 1825: 40) and '...passing through Roslin Muir, and coming to Glencross water' (ibid.: 40) where the Covenanters met with Dalziel's fore party. Both Glencorse Kirk and the House of Muir appear on Adair's c.1682 map, which shows Rullion Green alongside a pathway.

The first edition Ordnance Survey map (6') from 1854 places the battlefield label near Rullion Green (NT 2260 6250) with a 'Covenanters' Encampment' slightly to the west (NT 2210 6224). For the encampment location, RCAHMS cites the 1852 Name Book entry:

'The site where the Covenanters camped before the battle of Rullion Green. The appearances as of the track of eight tents are distinctly visible' (RCAHMS Rullion Green Encampment).

The supposed tent tracks, however, are actually a series of ring enclosures. It is not impossible that the Covenanter army could have camped within the area of the enclosures, however, Terry firmly places the encampment at Rullion Green, not amongst the enclosures.

The initial skirmish between Wallace's left and the government fore party is perhaps less certain. It is very near what is now the Glencorse Reservoir, created in the 1820s, which has potentially encroached upon the skirmish site and the route of the government forward party's retreat. The possible route of Dalziel's army is marked on Terry's map, while the current edition OS map has a corrected location of the battlefield and has removed the so-called Covenanters' Encampment. The Inventory deployment map is based on Terry's scholarship.


The battle took place at the edge of the Pentland Hills on the eastern slope of Turnhouse Hill approximately 2.5 km north west of Penicuik. At the base of the hill is rough grassland cut by drains with a line of coniferous plantation midway up the slope. The slope is cut by water courses that would have impeded cavalry charges. From the position on the high ground adopted by the Covenanters, the view of the surrounding area is excellent and demonstrates that Wallace had excellent tactical judgement.

The main area of the battlefield is the eastern slope and base of Turnhouse Hill directly to the west of Turnhouse, where the Covenanters established their lines and where Dalziel arrayed his army. It is possible that the nearby Rullion Green cottage is the site of the original Covenanter encampment, making this a site of interest, but it is likely that continued modern use has destroyed any evidence of the encampment.

Approximately 1 km north-east of the battlefield on rough grassland in the glen is Terry's proposed location of the initial skirmish between a portion of Wallace's Covenanters and the government fore party. The location of the skirmish is only conjectural and vaguely defined by primary and secondary sources. On the west bank of the river, just south of the sluice tower of the Glencorse Reservoir is the presumed position of the fore party upon its disengagement from the skirmish with the Covenanters. East of this location, on the opposite bank of the Glencorse, is the position taken up by the fore party as it awaited the arrival of Dalziel's infantry.While Terry is very confident about the location of this third position, it is difficult to be certain, partly due to the rough terrain, and partly due to later afforestation and development.


The battlefield is within the boundaries of the Pentland Hills Regional Park and therefore is not in immediate danger of commercial development. Unfortunately a line of late eighteenth to early nineteenth century plantation may encroach upon some of the positions of Wallace's Covenanters, which would have an adverse impact on the survival of any physical remains in these areas. Map evidence shows the development of pathways and field boundaries in the area throughout the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, though the current landscape has changed little since the mid-nineteenth century Ordnance Survey. There is also evidence for limited, small-scale quarrying in the area in the eighteenth century, though this does not seem to directly affect the battlefield. Glencorse Reservoir now covers an area of the glen in the north of the battlefield, and has likely had some consequent impact on the probable approach route of Dalziel's force. The reservoir was first constructed in 1822 by the Edinburgh Joint Stock Water Company, and the water level was raised a further metre after 1846.

Archaeological & Physical Remains and Potential

Though several excavations of prehistoric sites have been conducted in the immediate vicinity of Rullion Green, (Stevenson 1971, Watkins 1984, Watkins et al 1986) the battlefield itself has never been subjected to formal survey. The engagement at Rullion Green involved a total of 2000-3000 combatants. The government forces initiated repeated attacks on the Covenanter position and there were several instances of hand-to-hand fighting. Because of this, one would expect to find a variety of physical remains such as spent and dropped ammunition, damaged weapons (i.e. pistols, swords, and the various makeshift weapons used by the Covenanters), personal accoutrements like buckles and buttons, and cavalry items like horseshoes, nails and other hardware. The Covenanter army had marched rapidly with their camp equipment and other items that would have been abandoned upon their desperate flight into the dark, hilly terrain. It is probable that artefacts remain in the ploughsoil, which organised metal detector surveying and other archaeological methods could recover. Though there is a fringe of later plantation, the area of the battlefield remains largely undeveloped. It is not currently under cultivation and it is probable that artefacts remain in the topsoil.

Cultural Association

The battle is an important event in the history of the Kirk of Scotland's dissenting religious tradition and is particularly important in the history of southern and western Scotland. The persecution and martyrdom of Covenanters in the Pentland Rising and the 'Killing Times' of the later seventeenth-century are deeply embedded in the religious identity of Scottish Presbyterianism. The Covenanters are integral to understanding the history of popular protest and religious intolerance in Scotland. The repercussions of Stuart policies towards dissenters in Scotland, which fuelled Covenanter anti-government sentiment, echo throughout the later Glorious Revolution, Jacobitism and even in opposition to the Treaty of Union. The Battle of Rullion Green highlights the instability of seventeenth-century socio-political life in Scotland and the Restoration government's tenuous and difficult grasp on civil order.

Commemoration & Interpretation

There is a monument to the Covenanter dead from the battle, known as Covenanters' monument or Martyr's tomb at NGR NT 22234 62316. The monument was originally erected in 1738, but subsequently moved to its current location at what would have been the extreme right flank of Wallace's line. Listed on the stone monument are the Rev. J Crookshanks (Crookshank / Cruickshank) and Mr A McCormack (McCormick), as well as the names of approximately 50 other Covenanters. Along with the monument is a plaque erected in 1966 upon the three-hundred-year anniversary of the battle. No artefacts relating to the battle have been identified.



Black, C. S. 1936. Scottish Battles. Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd. Black offers a very brief summary of the battle.

Sidgwick, M. 1906. The Pentland Rising and the battle of Rullion Green. Scottish Historical Review, 3.12. 449-452.

Terry, C.S. 1905. The Pentland Rising and Rullion Green. Glasgow: James Mclehose. Copies also available at National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh University Library.

Information on Sources & Publication

The Battle of Rullion Green has several primary accounts written by participants in the fighting. James Wallace gave an account from the Covenanter side, while William Drummond did the same for the Government side. Both were reasonably straightforward in their accounts, although Drummond had little sympathy for the rebels despite recognising their hardiness in the fighting. Veitch also provided a Royalist version of events, although his version is less accurate than the other accounts.

Primary Sources

Archive/Library: Glasgow University Library

Drummond, W. 1666. Letter from Major-General William Drummond to Lord Rothes. Pentland 29 Nov 1666. Transcribed in M. Sidgwick, 1906. The Pentland Rising and the battle of Rullion Green. Scottish Historical Review, 3.12. 449-452.

Veitch, W. 1825. Memoirs of William Veitch and George Brysson. T. McCrie, Ed. Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & T. Caddell. 1-264. Copy also available in the National Library of Scotland.

Wallace, J. 1825. Narrative of the Rising suppressed at Pentland. In Memoirs of William Veitch and George Brysson. T. McCrie, Ed. Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood & T. Caddell. 353-387. Copy also available in the National Library of Scotland.

Cartographic & Illustrative Sources

Archive/Library: National Library of Scotland

Adair, J. c.1682? [Map of Midlothian]. Shelfmark: Adv.MS.70.2.11 (Adair 9). Available digitally at [Last accessed 17/2/2010]. The site of the battle is marked on the map, labelled Rullion Green.

Adair, J. and Cooper, R. 1735. A Map of Midlothian/survey'd by Mr. J. Adair. Shelfmark EMS.s.737(16). Available digitally at [Last accessed 17/2/2010]. An engraved version of the c.1682 manuscript map. The battle site is marked with the label 'Rullion Green'.

Laurie, J. 1766. A plan of Edinburgh and places adjacent. From series Counties of Scotland, 1580-1928. Shelfmark EMS.s.36. Available digitally at [Last accessed 15/2/2010] The battle is not marked, but the map shows the extent of field boundaries and lack of plantation in the battlefield area.

Roy, W. 1747-55. Military Survey of Scotland. Available digitally at [Last accessed 19/2/2010]. The Roy map shows the location of Turnhouse, Glencorse Kirk, and shows the development of road routes along the Glencorse River and between Currie, Colinton and the battle site.

Archive/Library: Ordnance Survey

Ordnance Survey. 1854. Six-inch First Edition. Available digitally at [Last accessed 19/2/2010]. Battle site marked as well as 'Covenanter Encampment'.

Ordnance Survey. 2009. The latest OS map shows an updated battlefield location, largely based upon Terry's scholarship.

Secondary Sources

Archive/Library: Glasgow University Library

Black, C. S. 1936. Scottish Battles. Glasgow: Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd. Black offers a very brief summary of the battle.

Sidgwick, M. 1906. The Pentland Rising and the battle of Rullion Green. Scottish Historical Review, 3.12. 449-452.

Terry, C.S. 1905. The Pentland Rising and Rullion Green. Glasgow: James Mclehose. Copies also available at National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh University Library.

Archive/Library: National Library of Scotland

Munro, R.W. (ed.) 1966 Rullion Green in the Pentland Hills. Accounts of the battle by those who fought there. 28th November 1666. Edinburgh. Shelfmark: 5.3289. [copy also held by Edinburgh University Library at shelfmark 941.06 RUL].

Stevenson, R.B.K. 1971. Circular enclosures at Rullion Green, Midlothian. Scott Archaeol Forum, 4. 48-9. Also available at Edinburgh University Library.

Watkins, T. 1984. Rullion Green 1983 [probable Bronze Age funerary site in Mid Lothian]. University of Edinburgh Department of Archaeology Project Paper, 1. Also available at Edinburgh University Library.

Watkins, T., J. Murray and P. Rind. 1986. Rullion Green: report on the 1984 season of excavations. University of Edinburgh Department of Archaeology Project Paper, 3. Also available at Edinburgh University Library.

The Gazetteer for Scotland. 2010. Rullion Green Battlefield. [Last accessed: 1/2/2010]. This is an updated online version of Groome's Gazetteer for Scotland of 1901.

RCAHMS. Battle of Rullion Green. Site NT26SW 10. [Last accessed: 22/2/2010]

About the Inventory of Historic Battlefields

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important historic battlefields. Battlefields are landscapes over which a battle was fought. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

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