Thursday, August 20, 2015

Culloden Battlefield

Welcome to Culloden Battlefield.
The battle at Culloden, April 16, 1746,  was the end of the Scottish attempt to bring Charles Edward Stuart to the throne of England and Scotland.  It lasted just over an hour, with 1500 - 2000 Scots killed in just a few minutes, while the English casualties were only 50, with some 250 wounded.  While they both had cannons, the English were better trained in their use.  The English Army could also load and fire their rifles at twice the speed of the Scots; again better training.  The Jacobite Rebellion completely collapsed.

After the Scots retreated, Charles went into hiding, finally escaping to France.  The Scots were systematically slaughtered by the English as traitors who deserved no quarter.  For many years the wearing of tartan was banned, clans were banned and being Catholic was banned.  It was not a good time to be Scottish, unless you had sided with the Crown.

Stones mark where different groups were buried; this is for the English.

A small hamlet was on the sight of the battle, this house is all that remains.
After the battle, the dead were stripped of all clothing and belongings and buried in mass graves.  For many years, items that were purported to be from Culloden were sold in the markets around Scotland. In 1884, Duncan Forbes erected a 20 ft tall memorial cairn and several headstone to mark the mass graves of the clans.  Recent archaeological excavations, topographic, geophysical, and metal detection surveys have revealed more information of the fierceness of the battle.  Shattered pistol and muskets, bits of sword and knives all point to close quarter, hand to hand combat, with mortar shells firing grapeshot; a deadly combination.

The hilt of a sword found on the battlefield.

A knife with sheath known as the "white knife of Dal Mhoraisd"  The Stewarts of Dal Mhoraisd in Glen Tilt followed Lord George Murray in 1745.  This knife was reputedly taken by one of these Stewarts from the breast  of a horse on the field at Culloden.

There is a newer visitors center with wonderful displays and graphics, looking at the build up to the battle and the aftermath from the perspective of the Scots and the English.  There are also many oral readings taken from the writing of the survivors.  A short movie, in surround screens, gives a feeling of the overwhelming odds against the Scots. All of this before you go out onto the battlefield, so it makes more sense when you are walking the field.   We really enjoyed our visit, and learned a bit more about the history of Scotland.

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