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Historic Sites in Scotland: Culloden Battlefield

Updated on May 3, 2012
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The Battle of Culloden

The Battle of Culloden which was fought on 16th April 1746 was the last battle to take place on British soil. It ended the Jacobite Rebellion which had begun in 1745, as supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie attempted to reinstate the Stewart dynasty to the British monarchy. There is a misconception that the battle was between the Scots and the English. In fact, the battle was between supporters of the Stewart Dynasty and the British Government. There were Scots fighting for both sides and many English supporters of the Stewarts fought with the Jacobite forces. In some cases, afraid of losing their lands if they supported the wrong side, Scottish nobles sent one son to fight for the government and another son to fight for the rebels.

The battle was brief but the romanticised images of the campaign to claim the throne for Bonnie Price Charlie, along with the brutal suppression of the Jacobites in the aftermath of the uprising, have ensured a continuing interest in Culloden.

The Well of the Dead
The Well of the Dead

The Battlefield Today

The battlefield is located about five miles outside of Inverness and is now overseen by the National Trust for Scotland. There is a visitor centre where you can view a film depicting the battle, enjoy various interactive exhibits or look out over the battlefield from the rooftop. Naturally, there's a gift shop for souvenirs and interesting books about Scottish history and there's also a family-friendly restaurant.

It is also possible to walk around the battlefield, where the positions of key members of the opposing forces are marked out. There are also stone markers for mass graves of the clansmen who died and a memorial cairn which stands over 20 feet high. The Well of the Dead marks the spot where Alexander MacGillivray, who led the forces of Clan Chattan died.

The National Trust has invested a lot of money in improving accessibility and the pathways around the battlefield will be suitable for most people to follow. The battlefield has long been a site of pilgrimage for visitors from around the world, hoping to get a sense of what their Scottish ancestors had experienced.

Old Leanach Cottage

There is an old cottage on the site which survived the battle and has been restored to give visitors an insight into the way that people lived. It has a traditional thatched roof which has been replaced several times over the years. It was occupied up until 1912. In recent years, the windows have been enlarged and the chimney altered but it still retains much of its original structure.

Why Visit Culloden Battlefield?

There are several reasons why you might want to visit Culloden Battlefield:

  • To find out more about the last battle ever fought on British soil
  • To discover the history of events leading up to the battle.
  • To learn more about your Scottish heritage.

If you do ever have the chance to visit Culloden, try not to make the mistake that one group of tourists did when they asked the staff where the Jacobites had parked their cars for the battle.

Books about Culloden and the Jacobite Rebellion

Comments

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  • profile image

    Peter 

    6 years ago

    Yes I am all in favour of education and that is great, but my point is they could have put it further away. I much prefer visiting the small scale sites in any case having just been to the rough bothy in Glen Duror where James of the Glen was born and the Cameron Clan museum both with connections to the 45 and Culloden. James Stewart who fought at Culloden and was hung in 1752 for the supposed killing of Colin Cambell.

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR

    alliemacb 

    6 years ago from Scotland

    Hi Peter

    I agree that what was there before was better in a lot of ways but the new visitor centre does have some nice educational features. My favourite part is the actual battlefield anyway. I've been going for walks there since I was very small and loved hearing tales of my ancestors. Thanks for stopping by.

  • profile image

    Peter 

    6 years ago

    I hate the visitor centre compared to what was there before. It looks like a glorified supermarket car park and a vast money making machine for the National Trust for Scotland. If they had to have it, it should have been a couple of miles away with a bus service. Instead of some glorified theme park.

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR

    alliemacb 

    6 years ago from Scotland

    Thanks, Habee. Glad you liked it.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 

    6 years ago from Georgia

    Awesome! The Stewarts are among my ancestors, and I'm fascinating with Scotland and its history. I wanna go! Voted up.

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR

    alliemacb 

    6 years ago from Scotland

    Hi Gordon

    Thanks for your comment. It is amazing that so few people realise how complicated the situation around Culloden was and that it wasn't just Scotland v England. Hope you get the chance to visit the battlefield some time. It can be remarkably peaceful

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR

    alliemacb 

    6 years ago from Scotland

    Thanks for the comments. I love to write about Scotland and I'm glad you enjoyed reading this

  • joanveronica profile image

    Joan Veronica Robertson 

    6 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

    Hi again, my mother's maiden name was Stewart, so I think that is enough to explain my continued interest in Culloden Fight over the years. I have read about it, thought about it and tried to make it alive in my mind. I have never visited this place, and I don't think I ever will, but it is very important for understanding what later happened to the clans and how many of their members went into exile, thus providing many other places with the genetic characteristics of the Scots.

    Please continue to write about important Scottish issues, I for one will read them avidly! Nice Hub!. Voted up.

  • Gordon Hamilton profile image

    Gordon Hamilton 

    6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

    Interesting Hub. I enjoyed reading it. I'm glad you were sure to point out that the whole Culloden/Charles thing was not a Scotland v England event - it is amazing how many people make the mistake of thinking along those lines, don't you think? I was in Inverness for a few days a few years back but never got the chance to visit Culloden. I hope to do so the next time I'm up there.

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