Culloden Battlefield



About one hours drive away from Tomintoul, towards Inverness, lies Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre. I visited with a friend from France who was very interested in the links between the Jacobites and their French supporters.  Prince Charles Stuart lived in France until 1745. Jacobites were supporters of James II, who was the father of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The word Jacobite comes from the Latin for James (Jacobus).

The exhibition told both sides of the story with personal accounts from people who actually lived through the time. However, because the Jacobites and their families suffered so badly, it was hard for me personally to feel much sympathy for the government forces. The exhibition made for some poignant images. We saw a leather covered Jacobite shield from the battlefield, showing deep cuts  in it, presumably from a government soldier’s sword, and many other authentic weapons and personal objects that had been excavated. My personal best bit was the ‘immersion theatre’ where you can experience what it was like to be right in the middle of the battle at Culloden. Quite overpowering and bloody, but profoundly sad. Outside on the battlefield we saw the memorial cairn, the gravestones of the clans, marking where the battle dead were buried by local people.  The men were identified by a plant sprig worn in their hat as a clan badge.

For anyone who is unsure, the battle of Culloden took place on 16th April 1746 between Bonnie Prince Charlie’s French supported Jacobite warriors and the British Government forces, led by The Duke of Cumberland.  It was the final battle in Prince Charles Stuart’s claim to the Scottish throne and the end of the union.  It did not end well for the Jacobites who were outnumbered, tired from marching all night and starving by the time the battle of Culloden took place.  Between 1000 and 1200 Jacobites were slain on the battlefield and the rest were hunted down and executed or sentenced to transportation to the British colonies in North America. The wearing of tartan and kilts was banned and many highlanders were forced from their land as Jacobite estates were seized by the Crown. It is estimated that the government forces lost about 50 men and the Duke of Cumberland gained the title of ‘Butcher’ due to his brutal behaviour after Culloden.

It was an amazing place to visit and a very moving experience, one I would recommend to any of our visitors.


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