Scotland Day 5 part 2: Culloden
That afternoon the rain had stopped by the time we reached Culloden Battlefield. First we went to the visitor center where a man dressed as a 18th century French soldier demonstrated how the Jacobite Highlanders had fought using basket-hilted broad swords, targe and dagger. This was very interesting and informative because I have written battle scenes involving Highlanders. I have new info and insights to add next time.
Culloden was the last battle fought (basically) between Scots and English, the last on British soil, and the most historically significant for Scots. (I say basically because some Scots fought on the side of the English.) Scotland would never be the same again afterward. The Highland Clearances followed, the clan system was destroyed and the clans disbursed. The English Hanoverians tried to stamp out and destroy Scottish Highland culture so there would be no more rebellions. During this time, in the late 18th century and 19th century, thousands and thousands of Scots immigrated to America, Canada, Australia, etc.
I won't go into detail about the battle. Entire books have been written on the subject. In a nutshell, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the descendent of the Stewart (Stuart) kings (originally Scottish), like King James VI & I. Their line had been dethroned years earlier but Charlie wanted the British throne. He had been raised in Europe, but he came back to the Highlands to find his Jacobite (relates to the Latin for James) supporters and to raise an army. He did and they stormed south, taking a few English cities but they stopped before reaching London. They headed back north, into Scotland before the final battle. The English or Hanoverian army had far better and more advanced weapons like musket rifles and canons. The Highlander Jacobites fought mostly with swords and daggers as they had for centuries. Thousands of Scots were killed. The wounded were murdered. The English suffered fewer casualties. Those who died were buried here in mass graves. Some in clan graves, some in mixed clan graves. These are marked with stones. A monument stands nearby.
A red flag marks the Jacobite line and a yellow flag marks the English line where the soldiers stood before charging. Culloden battlefield, also known as Drummossie Moor, is a wide flat bog land. It's wet and squishy with peat and water stands in places. Mountains lie in the blue, misty distance. Heather, thistles and other short scrubby plants grow here. Many of them were in bloom. I tried to imagine how difficult hand to hand combat would be in such a place if it was the same in the mid 1700s. Tripping over the foot tall scrubby bushes and plants would have been easy. The wind seemed to be blowing constantly while we were here and it seems a sad lonely place. But very beautiful.
A one room crofter cottage sits nearby and apparently this was the field hospital. I don't see how it could've been much use considering the number of injured after the battle. But the restored cottage was fantastic, the most beautiful and original looking I saw during the whole trip. Again, since I write about croft huts sometimes, I was interested in looking at the structure in detail.


My friend and I wanted to walk to the Jacobite line but unfortunately we noticed the time. Needless to say I was late to the bus again. I was not very popular with the driver at this point. Eeek.


As a side note, something interesting happened earlier, when I first walked onto the battlefield. Close in front of me, two birds crossed in flight, one black and one white. The symbolism gave me a chill.



9 Responses
  1. Nita Wick Says:

    I'm really enjoying your posts and all the pictures. Thanks so much for sharing your travel experience with us. I look forward to more!


  2. Vanessa Says:

    Thanks for posting the events and pics of your trip. It's the next best thing to being there.


  3. I'm so glad you are all enjoying it. I am too. :-) Many fond memories. Thanks for visiting!


  4. stephen Says:

    Did all this with my wife in 2006 and more loved Scotland. My mother was Scottish. you wrote a good blog


  5. Thanks Stephen! It is a truly enjoyable and amazing trip.


  6. Anonymous Says:

    um, dunno how i stumbled onto this site but you're kinda getting it wrong with culloden being between the english and the scots. it was more of a fight between clans, not countries. scotland and england became the uk bout 40 years before, so the "english side" was just the army supported by some clans and the "scots" side was clans who wanted the stewart line back on the throne


  7. Thanks for your input! Yes, I'm sure your wording is more politically correct. I didn't create the English vs. Scottish wording. It has been presented to me that way many times. Even Culloden Battlefield itself had at the time I visited an "English line" and a "Field of the English" a stone marking where the "English" were buried. Of course the more proper wording is Hanoverians or government troops vs. Jacobites.


  8. Carly Carson Says:

    The Duke of Cumberland (Butcher of Cumberland) was a son of George II, the English king. He led the government forces at Culloden. According to Wikipedia: The Government force was mostly English, but also included both Highland and Lowland Scots. Charles Stuart's army (the "Scottish" side) consisted largely of Scottish Highlanders, as well as a number of Lowland Scots and a small detachment of Englishmen from Manchester.


  9. Jeff Says:

    The post from Anonymous on October 22, 2010 could not have been more wrong. It was indeed a war between the English and the Scottish Highlanders who wanted to see the Catholic Bonnie Prince Charles put back on the English thrown and send the Protestant king packing. While it is true there were loyalist clans who fought with the English or "government" against the highlanders, it was not a "war between the clans". Sounds like somebody needs to do a little reading and brush up on his history.


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