A fragment of a hand grenade thrown during one of the most significant battles of the first Jacobite rebellion has been discovered in a Perthshire river.
Rick Edwards, presenter of Sky History’s River Hunters, and US YouTube sensation Beau Ouimette, a river detectorist with over 30 years’ experience, unearthed the iron fragment from the River Garry more than three centuries after the Jacobites defeated a government army at the Battle of Killiecrankie.
However, the Jacobites victory came at a heavy cost, including the death of leader John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st viscount of Dundee, known as ‘Bonnie Dundee’.
The battle, which took place on 27th July 1689, was the first major clash between the opposing forces, as the Jacobites fought to reinstate Catholic King James II of England and VII of Scotland to the throne.
The Catholic King had been ejected from the throne a year earlier in favour of his Protestant daughter Mary and her Dutch husband, William of Orange.
The battle saw the first usage on British soil of grenades and during the recording of the River Hunter’s episode, Ouimette made what Edwards described as a “find of national importance”. “It’s only the second time a hand grenade fragment of this age has ever been found on British soil,” the presenter said.
Archaeologist Dr Natasha Ferguson admitted that her jaw dropped when she saw the grenade fragment, while Dr Murray Cook said he shed “tears of joy” at the “incredible” find.
“This is very likely to be a grenade from the battle, which is extraordinary as there has only been one other fragment of grenade found and that was up in the field…so there are only potentially two of these objects,” said Dr Ferguson.
“An object that’s as important as this will go into a museum collection so that everyone can see it.”
Ouimette added: “It’s certainly one of my most rare finds. I can’t believe we actually found it… it’s exactly the kind of battlefield evidence we came hunting for”.
“It’s fantastic because we spoke about the fact that this was an innovative battle and I didn’t dare to dream that we would find something to prove just how innovative,” he said.
Rick Edwards praised his hosting colleague Ouimette’s contribution to Scottish military history, saying he had made a priceless find.
In response, Ouimette said: “I think that’s why I do what I do, because I want to contribute to the historical record and people will be able to look at that and see it in the museum.”
• River Hunters series two airs on Sky History on Mondays at 9pm.
Picture: Beau Ouimette holding the fragment of a hand grenade thrown during the 1689 Battle of Killiecrankie moments after discovering it in the River Garry in Perthshire, Scotland. (River Hunters/Sky History).