FIRST APPEARED IN MARCH, 2004. UPDATED IN 2012.
April 16, 1746
if it were a golf course
and whenever in Scotland such an idea is never far from my
imagination would be described as "heathland". That means lowland scrub
dense with bracken and knee-high clinging shrubs. The rough at Culloden would indeed be
rough. One can readily imagine kicking up pheasant, partridge, and grouse but never
finding an errant golf ball.
sea the Moray Firth is more a nearly captive sound than wild coastline
about 2 miles away at its closest point. But Culloden couldnt be described as fit
for a seaside course, and has none of the dune qualities of a natural Scottish links.
Thats not to say there isnt a breeze at Culloden. The few hardy trees on the
heath dont offer much protection from the steady winds coming largely unopposed out
of the open northwest. My on-line Merriam-Webster
defines "heath" as:
Flags mark Culloden
at points where key action
occurred over 250 years ago.
The overall effect is that of a
grisly Scottish golf course.
© Home At First.
tract of wasteland; b: an extensive area of rather level open uncultivated land usually
with poor coarse soil, inferior drainage, and a surface rich in peat or peaty humus"
and notes something telltale in its etymology: "Middle English heth,
English h[AE]th; akin to Old High German heida heather".
Overlooking Culloden Battlefield. In the distance is
the Moray Firth and the low hills of the Black Isle.
there is plenty of Scottish heather to grab your ankles at Culloden. But Culloden Battlefield is no golf
course. To many Scots, the exposed tract of wasteland a few miles east of Inverness is
sanctified ground, holier than even St. Andrews Old Course ever will be. And to
fully understand Scotland, Culloden Battlefield is a must-see.
By the time of Bonnie Prince Charlies
last stand at Culloden, the time of the Highland Scots was past. Its last and greatest
Rob Roy MacGregor
was already 12
years in his grave in the churchyard at Balquhidder. Scotlands clan system was in
its death throes.
Scotland in 1746 was experiencing the dawn of an extraordinary intellectual renaissance
that gave the world such luminaries as:
architect Robert Adam
(Edinburgh New Town)
chemist Joseph Black (discover of carbon dioxide)
biographer James Boswell (Dr. Johnsons companion)
poet Robert Burns
physician George Cleghorn (discovered malaria cure)
industrialist David Dale (built mills throughout Scotland)
inventor Sir Hugh Dalrymple (developed drainage techniques that
increased arable land)
father of sociology Adam Ferguson
inventor William Ged (metal casting process)
philosopher David Hume (recognized leader of the "Scottish
pioneer obstetrician William Hunter
father of modern geology James Hutton
hero of American independence John Paul Jones
physician James Lind (cured scurvy)
road builder John McAdam (the concrete alternative)
inventor Charles Mackintosh (waterproof raincoats)
inventor Andrew Meikle (threshing machine)
anatomist/educator Alexander Monro
inventor William Murdock (coal gas lighting)
artist Alexander Nasmyth
merchant/banker/unionist William Patterson (Bank of England)
artist Allan Ramsay
engineer John Rennie (London Bridge & many others)
writer/poet Sir Walter Scott
inventor James Small (iron plow)
landmark printer William Smellie ("Encyclopedia
capitalist philosopher Adam Smith ("Wealth of Nations")
philosopher Dugald Stewart (common sense philosophy)
engineer Thomas Telford (St. Katharines
Docks, London, among many)
inventor James Watt (steam engine)
signer of the Declaration of Independence John Witherspoon
is incongruous that the tribal Highlands clan system still survived while the Scottish
Enlightenment flowered. About the only things the two movements had in common were
affiliations with France and a penchant for rugged, moral individualism. (Both of these
elements were shared with many intellectuals in the American Colonies.)
Scotland had already been
THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN MOOR
Painting by Mark Churms ©
officially merged into the
Kingdom with England and Wales in 1707. The Industrial
Painting by George W. Joy.
Revolution was underway in England, Wales and Lowland
Scotland. The Enlightenment was already stirring in France, with its
dual themes of nation and society soon to rock traditional systems
throughout Western Europe and North America. But in 1746 the traditional
Highland clans still lived and died by the sword. Therefore, Culloden
was inevitable. And, when it did happen, the end was swift, bloody, and
The Battle of Culloden was a disaster for the 5,000 or so Highland clansmen, Irish
volunteers, and the few French troops who were quickly overwhelmed by King Georges
army of 9,000 redcoats made up of English, Irish, Lowland Scots, and Argyll Campbells.
Likely 1,500 or more of Bonnie Prince Charlies forces died that day, many of them
slaughtered while laying wounded on the battlefield well after the hour-long
battle was over. (Perhaps 50 redcoats died.)
Charles Edward Stuart, the Young
Bonnie Prince Charlie, evidently pretended to be field
commander on April 16,
1746, taking direct field command of
his army for the only time. After Culloden he
was whisked away to safe houses throughout the Highlands, ultimately
placed in the safekeeping of Flora Macdonald on the Isle of Skye. It was
from Skye that the Young Pretender was rescued by a French warship and
taken to exile on the Continent. He died an unhappy alcoholics death in
Rome. Flora Macdonald was briefly jailed by the English, then relocated
to the American Colonies where she helped recruit Scots for the British
army in North Carolina during the American Revolution.
Following Culloden, King Georges men ransacked the Highlands, carrying out the order
to put an end to whatever vestiges of the clan system remained. For some time afterwards
the playing of bagpipes, wearing of tartan, and carrying of weapons were viewed as serious
crimes against the state.
The Battle of Culloden changed
Highlands Scotland the way the Battle of Gettysburg changed the American
MEMORIAL CAIRN AT
The changes to the
as a result of the disaster at
Culloden were monumental.
Southland. In each case, a venerable,
thoroughly outdated way of life met a
of a Highlands thatched cottage
on Culloden Moor.
disastrous end at the hands of the overwhelming might of a more modern,
technological society. In each case the defeat was so total, and the
accompanying cultural change so monumental that not long afterwards
societies formed to commemorate and even perpetuate the old ways.
Culloden Battlefield site of the last military battle on British soil
barren today, hosting solemn, curious visitors from all over the world, plus one flock of
sheep to help keep the land virtually as it was in 1746. The site is owned and maintained
by The National Trust for Scotland, who
acquired the battlefield in various
parcels over time.
|Although it is the heathland (also called
that most inspires the imagination and, perhaps, saddens the
heart, the battlefield offers the restored, thatched Leanach Cottage, which survived the
battle, and the marked Graves of the Clans, the Well of the Dead, the Memorial Cairn, the Cumberland
Stone, and the Field of the English to provide a sense of the
historic event. There is a modern Visitor Centre with Jacobite
(Highlanders) exhibition, numerous artifacts, a restaurant, a shop, and Living History
presentations during summer months.
TO CULLODEN BATTLEFIELD
Culloden Battlefield is easily reached from
HOME AT FIRSTs lodgings
INVERNESS & THE
NORTHERN SCOTLAND HIGHLANDS.
By Car from
Northern Highlands Cottages: drive
the A9 across
the Kessock Bridge to Inverness and slightly
At Westhill turn
left (east) onto the B9006 (Culloden
Road) for Culloden Moor. Drive about 4mi to reach the entrance.
Public parking at the Visitor Centre. Drive time, approx. 35 min.
By Car from Inverness
Apartments: take the A9 a short
distance southeast of Inverness.
At Westhill turn left (east)
onto the B9006 (Culloden Road) for Culloden Moor. Drive about
4mi to reach the entrance. Public parking at the Visitor Centre.
Drive time 15 min.
Opening Times & Admission:
BATTLEFIELD: Open every day mid-morning until evening.
Open Jan. 24 through March
Open AprSept. daily
Open October daily 9AM-5PM.
Open Nov. 1 through Dec. 23 daily 10AM-4PM.
Closed Dec. 24 through Jan. 23.
Admission: £10/adult, £7.50/senior/child,
You can visit all
kinds of historic destinations as easy
day trips from
HOME AT FIRST lodgings
Our exclusive "Scotland Activities Guide" has over
120 pages of suggestions for things to see and
do when you travel with
HOME AT FIRST