As the one who organizes our family holidays, I decide where we stay, activities we do and locations we visit. A must on the list was the Culloden Battlefield which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. The field sits on Drummossie Moor and is an easy 5 mile drive east of Inverness.
My preferred book genre is historic novels ~ both fiction and non-fiction. The Battle of Culloden has appeared as a backdrop in more than a few of books I’ve read recently. And in the airport before our flight to Edinburgh, we picked up The Economist magazine which featured an article about the upcoming September vote for Scotland’s Independence. It mentions the The Battle of Culloden which had repercussions spanning many generations and is still a timely topic. Having read so much about it, I’m glad I got a chance to personally visit this important historic site.
A little historical background: The Jacobite Rebellion began in 1688 when a son was born to James II and with him the prospect of a Catholic succession. Almost immediately after his birth, a popular movement began to depose James II and let one of his protestant daughters (Mary) succeed to the throne. Within a year, Mary and her husband William III were crowned King and Queen of England, and James II was sent into exile. Scotland as well as Catholic countries including France and Ireland still recognized James II and his descendants as the legitimate heirs to the English throne. Jacobus is Latin for James hence the name for those Loyal to James II were called Jacobites.
William and Mary died without an heir. Due to the Act of Settlement which stated NO CATHOLIC on the English throne ever again, the English crown was passed from the Stuarts to the German Hanoverians specifically George I who was 52nd in line to the throne but, most importantly, the first protestant in the succession line.
His son, George II’s reign was threatened in 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II and known as the Young Pretender, landed in Scotland. The Jacobites supported “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and had initial success in rebellion clashes BUT then came the devastating defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 16 April 1746. It ended the Jacobite threat and so much more. It was also the last full-scale battle fought in Britain. The Commanding Officer of the Royalists earned the nickname “The Butcher” because of his ruthlessness not only at but especially after the battle. By all accounts, it was brutal and savage.
At the battle, two-thirds of the Jacobites were made up of Highland Gaels and the rest were from the Scottish lowlands, France, Ireland and even England. Also, many of the clans in the Highlands supported the British Government. Sadly, it pitted not only clan against clan but also family member against family member. The battle took approximately one hour, but the results were felt for many generations. Public executions for those supporting the Jacobites. Also, an attempt was made to wipe out the Scottish social structure by dismantling the Highland clans and crushing the Gaelic culture to include prohibiting wearing the kilt, playing the pipes and speaking Gaelic. The punishment for doing these would be death.
We were there on a dry and warm day but I could easily imagine what it must have been like on the cold, rainy day of the battle. There is an informative information center, museum and cafe on the grounds but my favorite part was walking through the actual field and reading the markers as well as listening to the audio guide. I learned a lot more about the battle and more importantly about the brutal aftermath which shaped Scotland all these many years.
Walking through the Battlefield
Battle of Culloden Monument
Jacobite position ~ stonewall
Visitor Center has a impressive 360 reenactment film, museum, interpreters, and a nice cafe (with vegetarian options)
At the cafe, you can get Vegetarian Haggis. I was tempted to buy some to bring home but since Haggis is on the list of banned items to bring to the US, I didn’t want the hassle of homeland security.
Looking out from the Jacobite position. The red flags are where the British were.
Highland Targe (Shield) with spike. Used by the Jacobites in the Battle of Culloden
Period dressed Interpreter at the Culloden Visitors Center
I couldn’t get over just how BLUE the sky was on the day we visited Culloden Battlefield. I love the cotton ball clouds, too!
Memorial Stone in honor of the English who died at the Battlefield
Stone Marker where Alexander MacGillivray was killed
Well of the Dead ~ I read this is where the wounded crawled to get water. Many of them perished near here.
It was a somber place to visit but also fascinating. I highly recommend it if you’re in the Highlands.
Read Full Post »