Historic Sites in Scotland: Culloden Battlefield
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 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.