A Little Note to Say ‘Thank You’

It’s coming to the end of the year and we wanted to take this opportunity to say a little ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has helped support our blog.

Working at Culloden we are lucky enough to meet people from across the world who come to discover more about Scottish history, their ancestors and their heritage. However, we are aware that there are many people who can’t make the journey to Culloden and even those who do might only a have a brief time here to try and take in everything the site has to offer. So, with that in mind we decided to start this blog as a way of sharing the stories of Culloden and the NTS to people across the world and we can’t believe how well it has been received!


Neither of us are writers so we were weren’t sure how well the blog would go down. Nor are we historians or experts of any kind, the closest we can offer is a degree in Geology? and the experience of working with the NTS for quite a few years between us. (We won’t tell you how long because we want to believe we are still young) But, working at Culloden we are fortunate to have the chance to discover and learn all about the Jacobite history and since we enjoy it we thought other people might to.

Luckily you were quick to respond and overall it has been very positive. So, thank you for all your comments, your corrections and your enthusiasm which has kept us motivated to write these posts even when we’re running out of time and trying to do our ‘normal’ jobs at the same time.

National Trust for Scotland

We both love working at Culloden and are passionate about the work that the National Trust for Scotland does in helping to conserve and protect amazing sites across Scotland. Things can sometimes get pretty busy here and occasionally a little stressful but we wouldn’t change it. We are lucky to get something different every day of the year, meeting new people and hearing new stories.

We hope we have brought a little bit of Culloden into the homes of those who cannot visit us themselves and shared a few extra secrets for those who come and see us year after year. We will endeavour to keep writing and hope you will all keep reading and inspiring us to find new stories and fun facts to share with you.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


So, thank you for supporting us and we hope you all have a great time over the holidays and will join us again next year to continue our crazy adventure!

We hope you all have a fantastic time over the holidays and a wonderful New Year!

K & D


George I – The First Hanoverian King

George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1st August 1714 until his death on 11th June 1727 and was the first monarch from the House of Hanover. Before we look at George himself we need to first understand how exactly he came to become king.

When Queen Anne died in 1714 without heirs the throne of Great Britain would surely have gone to here nearest relative, James VIII & III. However, following the removal of his father James VII & II there were a number of acts passed that prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne.

Queen Anne

Firstly in 1701 was the Act of Settlement. This prevented Catholics from the line of succession. The Act was put into place after William and Mary, as well as Anne herself, failed to produce any heirs and all the other members of the Stuart line were Roman Catholics. In 1700 Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, the only son of Anne to survive infancy, died aged only 11. His death destabilised the succession and ultimately led to the English parliament passing the Act of Settlement in 1701. Under the Act anyone who became a Roman Catholic or married a Roman Catholic was unable to inherit the throne. The Act was also used to reinforce the Bill of Rights (1689) and strengthen the principle that government was undertaken by constitutional advisers and not personal advisers chosen by the King or Queen.

Reproduktion des "Act of Settlement", der im Leineschloss in Hannover an Kurfürstenwitwe Sophie übergeben wurde. Mit dem "Act of Settlement" (dt. Grundordnung) schuf das englische Parlament 1701 eine neue Grundlage für die Thronfolge im Königreich England, die eine 123-jährige Personalunion (1714 - 1837) zwischen Hannover und Großbritannien begründete.
Act of Settlement 1701

This alone prevented James VIII & III from taking the throne but it did not guarantee the Hanoverian line would rule throughout Britain. In 1703 in response to the Act of Settlement, the Act of Security was approved by the Scottish parliament and was later ratified in 1704. This Act placed the power of appointing a successor to the Scottish throne in the hands of the Scottish parliament. The successor should be of the Royal line of Scotland, Protestant and not the same as the English successor unless various economic, political and religious conditions were met. The Scottish parliament were not happy that the English parliament had chosen Electress Sophia of Hanover as a successor without consulting them.

Finally in 1707 came the inauguration of the Treaty of Union which created the United Kingdom of Scotland, England and Wales. The Union mean the dissolution of the Scottish parliament and thus Act of Security was made invalid and there would be only one successor to the thrones of Scotland, England and Wales. This was decided to be Electress Sophia of Hanover who was the nearest relative to Queen Anne who was a protestant. By all rights it was her who should have followed Anne onto the throne but she unfortunately died a couple of months before Anne so her son George became King following Anne’s death.

Treaty of Union 1707

George I finally arrived in Britain in September 1714 after being forced to wait at the Hague while bad winds prevented passage. He arrived speaking only a few words of English with, it is said, 18 cooks and two mistresses, one very fat and the other tall and thin who became nicknamed ‘Elephant and Castle’ after an area in London. His coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 20th October and was accompanied by rioting in over 20 towns in the South West of England disrupting and, in some cases, assaulting those celebrating and ransacking their properties.

With some Tories sympathetic to the Jacobites, George turned to the Whigs to form a government, and they were to dominate politics for the next generation. This led to many turning against George and fighting to get James VIII & III onto the throne in the early Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1719.

george i
King George I

In 1720 the South Sea Company, with heavy government, royal and aristocratic investment, collapsed. The resulting economic crisis made the king and his ministers extremely unpopular. Robert Walpole was left as the most important figure in the administration and in April 1721 was appointed first lord of the Treasury and in effect, ‘prime minister’. His ascendancy coincided with the decline of the political power of the monarchy and George became less and less involved in government.

George remained unpopular in England throughout his life, partly because of his inability to speak English but also because of the perceived greed of his mistresses and rumours concerning his treatment of his wife. He finally died on 11 June 1727 during a visit to Hanover and was succeeded by his son, George II.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the first Hanoverian King of Britain. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, K & D.



Anyone for a Jacobite Christmas?

In 1644, Christmas was banned by Oliver Cromwell. Carols were forbidden and all festive get-togethers were deemed against the law. With the restoration of Charles II, Christmas was re-instated, albeit in a more subdued manner and by the Georgian period it was once again a very popular celebration.


So, how to make your Christmas an 18th Century wonder?

Firstly, traditional decorations included holly and evergreens. The decoration of homes was not just for the gentry: poor families also brought greenery indoors to decorate their homes, but not until Christmas Eve. It was considered unlucky to bring greenery into the house before then. By the late 18th century, kissing boughs and balls were also popular, usually made from holly, ivy, mistletoe and rosemary. These were often also decorated with spices, apples, oranges, candles or ribbons.

Example of a traditional Kissing Bough

The tradition of a Christmas tree in the house was a German custom and apparently brought to Court in 1800 by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. However it was not until the Victorian era that the British people adopted the tradition, after the Illustrated London News printed an engraving of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family around their Christmas tree in 1848. So, if you’re going for an authentic 18th Century look then I’m afraid the Christmas tree will have to be put away.

As for food why not serve a roasted bubbly-jock? (Love the name, it can’t help but make you give a childish smile) A bubbly-jock is a turkey or to be precise, a turkey-cock, and it has been found on Scottish tables since the 17th century, and probably before. So food shouldn’t be a problem with winter vegetables to accompany your bubbly-jock you can’t go wrong. And to close the evening off you can even serve plum pudding.

Lovely Christmas Dinner

In 1714, King George I was apparently served plum pudding as part of his first Christmas dinner as a newly crowned monarch, thus re-introducing it as a traditional part of Christmas dinner. Unfortunately there are no contemporary sources to confirm this, but it is a good story and led to his being nicknamed ‘the pudding king’.

Or if you prefer you can always serve Twelfth Cake, a version of present day Christmas cake, which was sliced and given to all members of the household and guests. It contained a dried bean and a dried pea. The person whose slice contained the bean was King for the night; a slice with a pea indicated the Queen. Even servants played along and if they won, they were recognized by everyone, including their masters as the evening’s King and Queen.

For presents you’re going have to steer away from technology and go down the more intimate hand crafted route but importantly don’t forget to make you Christmas box. The custom of giving a ‘Christmas box’ – a sum of money – to tradesmen and servants became commonplace, as did paying small amounts to the needy. The day after Christmas, St Stephen’s Day, was the day when people gave to charity and the gentry presented their servants and staff with their ‘Christmas Boxes’. This is why today St Stephen’s Day is called ‘Boxing Day’.

‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’

Finally for entertainment you can’t go wrong with some classic Christmas carols. No ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ I’m afraid but you can get by with carols written in the 18th Century including; ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Joy to the World’, and of course ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’.

Hopefully you’ll all be busy planning your Jacobite Christmas but if you can please as always like, share, comment, tweet, re-blog and belt the carols out loud and clear.

All the best, K & D.



Dilemmas at Derby

This week sees the 270th anniversary of ‘Black Friday’, the day the Jacobites turned at Derby and began their long retreat back up to Culloden. So, in honour of this we thought we’d look a little closer at the events that occurred in Derby.

On 3rd December 1745 word reached Derby that a nine or ten thousand strong Jacobite army was about to arrive. The newly formed Derbyshire Blues, under the command of the Duke of Devonshire, decided to retreat fifty miles to Retford and left Derby to its fate.

True enough the following day the Jacobite army entered Derby,  having marched south from Carlisle on 18th November. The entry of the army into the town was carefully planned to give the impression that Charles did indeed have 9,000 men, though the true number was a lot less. At eleven o’clock in the morning the vanguard, consisting of some thirty horse entered the town and ordered quarters for nine thousand men. In the afternoon the life-guards and some of the principal officers on horseback arrived and this was followed by the main body through the course of the evening; entering in detached parties to make the army appear as numerous as possible.  The capital was said to be in panic and the Bank of England in chaos as neither Cumberlands or Wades armies were well placed to tackle the Jacobite army.

The next day, 5th December, the Jacobites called a council meeting in Exeter House to decide the best way to proceed. They were now only 125 miles from London, just six days march and while Charles wanted to continue south and take on London many were against this decision. With the two government armies behind them and a third army defending London some Jacobites were worried they didn’t have enough support. They had not gathered many men on their route south and the long-promised French help had failed to materialise. Lord George Murray argued that during their march south they had seen more enemies for their cause than friends and he feared being penned in on three sides. He argued that even if the Jacobite army defeated on of the Government armies they would undoubtedly lose men and be unfit to face a second battle. If they were defeated so far from home then the reality was they would be captured and likely sentenced to death. The Prince was forced to admit he had no promise of support from English Jacobites and no idea when or if the French would invade.

Exeter House in Derby

As the Jacobites began their deliberations Dudley Bradstreet, a government spy, met the Duke of Cumberland at Lichfield before travelling on to Derby to join the Prince as a ‘Jacobite’. Bradstreet was brought before the council at their second meeting and told them of a supposed fourth force of 9,000 men at Northampton. Apparently this extra army was enough to settle the argument and convince the Jacobites to retreat. However, there is no clear evidence this story is true and even if it is the decision to retreat had already been made at the first meeting with the second simply to try and talk the Prince around which was unlikely to ever happen.

On 6th December 1745, known to the Jacobites as Black Friday, the Jacobites began the march north from Derby  led by Lord George Murray. It is said that only those present at the council of war knew of the retreat and the regular officers and men were given powder and ball making them believe they were heading into battle. When it became clear they were actually in retreat the army was angry and despondent. The Duke of Cumberland did not hear of the retreat until late in the day but was determined to make chase. The Jacobites had a head start so he left most of his infantry behind and hurried on with just cavalry and 1,000 volunteers who claimed to know how to ride. Though not capable of taking on the Jacobites by themselves Cumberland hoped Wade’s army would be able to throw itself in the Jacobites path.

Ironically, unbeknown to Charles the French were preparing to invade England. Charles’s gamble that his military success would prompt the French king to act was paying off, the problem was timing. Charles’s success had been rapid and he had gone into England before the French were ready. When the French learned of the Jacobites retreat though the invasion was cancelled leaving many what ifs to ruminate on over time.

The events of Derby have been questioned by many people and the alternate paths the Jacobites could have taken have been argued over many times. However, the fact remains that Derby was as far south as Prince Charles managed to get in his campaign and his retreat north would eventually lead him to the fields on Drumossie Muir in his final battle.

Statue of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in Derby

We hoped you enjoyed this insight into Derby and the Jacobite ‘Black Friday’, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and if you get the chance visit Derby and see the statue of Prince Charles on Cathedral Green.

All the best, K & D

An Island Getaway

Some properties of the NTS are well known from the gorgeous Culzean Castle and the eloquent Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, to the majestic Mar Lodge and of course the amazing Culloden Battlefield. However, there are some places that are a little more off the beaten track, especially the islands, but with the cold weather drawing in we thought this might be a good time to plan next years adventures.

Here in the Highlands of Scotland we are blessed to be surrounded by the Hebrides to the west and the Orkney and Shetland Islands to the north. And though we may not be the first thought when you think of a beach or coastal holiday hopefully this will make you reconsider as we take you on a journey around the NTS islands of Scotland.

Firstly, north to Fair Isle. Located halfway between Orkney and Shetland, Fair Isle is one of Britain’s most remote inhabited islands. Not only that but it’s adorably small – only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Don’t let its size deceive you though there’s plenty to see. Fair Isle is well known for its colonies of seabirds but for us here we love the unique crofting community that fills the island with spirit and can’t help but make you smile. Crafts are bountiful on Fair Isle with the world famous Fair Isle knitting the obvious example but the island also showcases boat building, spinning and crofting so there a little bit for everyone. For those less crafty there are  archaeological remains, an abandoned RAF radar station and the wreck of a Luftwaffe Heinkel bomber that crashed here in World War II. Oh, and not only all of that to see but you can even stay at South Lighthouse!

fair isle
Sunset at Fair Isle

From the north to the west, and here we look at the three spectacular island of Mingulay, Berneray and Pabbay. Located at the southern tip of the western isle these islands have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. For these islands the adventure starts before you even arrive. Accessible only by boat and with spectacular high sea cliffs the journey over is exciting to say the least and the landing something unique. For those brave enough to make it though the islands will open their hearts and show you some fantastic scenery. From the sea stacks, caves and promontories along the west coast to the white sandy bays and turquoise seas to the east the islands are a wonder of contrasts. Wildlife loves the islands as well with basking sharks and dolphins visiting in the summer and even golden eagles soaring above.

Seals on the beach at Mingulay

Now we couldn’t do a post about islands without mentioning the jewel in the crown, St Kilda. This World Heritage Site formed from the rim of an ancient volcano is the remotest part of the British Isles. Now uninhabited the island is home to the most important seabird breeding station in northwest Europe. This place is an ornithologists dream. In summer a million bird make St Kilda their home and these include the largest colony of northern gannets in the world and the largest colony of northern fulmars in the British Isles, as well as thousands of puffins and guillemots.

st kilda
St Kilda

Finally for something a little more accessible we take a trip to Iona and Staffa. Iona is known internationally as the cradle of Scottish Christianity, thanks to the arrival in AD563 of St Columba and his followers; whilst Staffa is best known for its magnificent basalt columns and spectacular sea caves, including the famous Fingal’s Cave. Iona maintains its special spiritual atmosphere and even has a restored medieval abbey which still holds daily services. Also worth visiting are the nearby St Oran’s Chapel and Reilig Odhrain, reputed to be the burial place of 48 kings of Scotland, including Macbeth.

Iona Abbey on Iona

Once you’ve checked out the wonders of Iona you then have to make your way to Staffa. This uninhabited and unspoilt island is the stuff of legend. Fingal’s Cave, also known as An Uamh Binn (Cave of Melody) is the highlight and is best seen by boat. It has a unique, cathedral-like structure and its hexagonal columns are similar to those of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. There are more caves along Staffas south coast and if you have time it’s also worth checking out Gunna Mor, here a bore-hole creates dramatic thunderous noises as waves strike the cliff below.

Dollar Glen

Hopefully you’re inspired to visit one of the many islands which the NTS helps preserve and protect and fingers crossed for glorious sunshine and summer heat for next year. As always please like, share, comment, tweet, re-blog and don’t just dream about Scotland, come and live it for real!

All the best, K & D



It’s not Scotland vs. England.

Perhaps one of the most common misconceptions we have here at Culloden Battlefield is the belief that the battle was fought between England and Scotland. It was not. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this battle is that it was a civil war. Families were split across both sides of the battle and the reasons that brought the men to the field were much more complex than just a matter of which side of the border you lived.

The first Jacobites came into force when the Catholic King James II & VII was deposed and the throne was passed to his Protestant brother-in-law William of Orange. The term Jacobite, which comes from the lain ‘Jacobus’ for James is defined as a supporter of the deposed James II and his descendants in their claim to the British throne. So, at a very basic level those who became Jacobites wanted a Stuart king on the British throne.

But, why a Stuart king over William of Orange, Queen Anne or the Hanoverian Kings George I and George II? Initially it could be said that there was very much a religious divide with Catholics joining the Jacobites. When King James II & VII was in power he believed in the divine right of king and the government saw some of their power removed. Not only that but Roman Catholicism was the religion of England’s historical enemies, France and Spain and when the English parliament invited William of Orange over to contest the throne he accepted and began the change from Catholics Stuarts to Protestant descendants occupying the throne.

The Act of Settlement passed in 1701 in some ways sealed the fate of the Stuarts declaring that anyone who became a Roman Catholic, or who married one, was disqualified to inherit the throne. This Act would eventually be the reason for the move to the house of Hanover and King George I taking the throne.

If everything stayed as simple as this it might be easy to explain who was on the side of the Jacobites. Alas, nothing in history is that simple. After religion came the power of politics. In 1707 the kingdoms of Scotland and England were united and the Kingdom of Great Britain was formed. Many people across Scotland and England were unhappy with the Union and saw it as unfair and saw certain areas of the country profiting more than others. Some felt the Scottish Parliament had been bribed and Scotland was bought out by England with fears Scotland would simply be swallowed up by England as Wales had some 400 years previous. The English felt they would be paying off Scottish debts from the unsuccessful Darien scheme and Scottish merchants would be allowed to trade with the English colonies. And, of course, distrust was felt both ways with neither side confident the other would hold up their ends of the Union. Rioting over the Union occurred both sides of the border.

With the changes in economics and politics that followed the Union the Jacobite cause was able to continue with the riots fuelling the need for change. The Union was seen to aid the cities and lowlands of Scotland and those in the Highlands were more willing to fight the Union leading to many Highland men joining the Jacobite cause. The excitement of joining a new cause and fighting against the people in power was also an important selling technique that encouraged young men across the country to join the Jacobite cause. Finally, with unrest apparent across Britain this was the perfect opportunity for other countries to try and take on the country and the Jacobite rebellions saw support from the French, Irish and Spanish bringing recruits from across the sea to support the Jacobite cause in the hopes of dismantling the power of the British.

Whilst many people joined because they wanted to many men became Jacobites through necessity. The clan system was still in force throughout Scotland and if the clan chief decided to fight for the Jacobties then the rest of the clan would follow or face the consequences. If asked to fight the would agree or they would be dragged out to fight and have their house burnt down if they refused to join the clan chief. Some clans were even more crafty placing men on both sides of the conflict. One son could be fighting with the government army and the other would join the Jacobites. With both sides covered the clan would hopefully remain safe regardless of which side won and the losing side could be struck off as a rebel group of men and not representative of the whole clan keeping them safe from repercussions.

With people in economic crisis the Jacobites were seen as a chance to escape poverty and join a group that would look after its followers. Thus, men across Scotland and England joined in the hope of finding a new more prosperous life. Religion still played its part and by 1745 many Episcopalians, who believed in the divine right of kings, joined the Jacobites to fight for the Stuarts who were seen as the rightful kings and hoped they would end the discriminatory laws against Catholics.

So, by 1745 and the last Jacobite rebellion there were Jacobites who fought for a Stuart king, for their religion, to improve their economic status, because they were forced into battle or for the excitement of representing a cause. There was no such thing as an average Jacobite and they came from all walks of life and across Great Britain. At the battle of Culloden there were clans on both sides of the conflict and soldiers from Ireland, France, England and Scotland all fighting for their own personal reasons.

The battle was very much a civil war and was far more complex than a simple Scotland vs. England as some believe. Hopefully we’ve given you a little insight into the world of the Jacobites but this by no means covers all the stories that led people to leave their homes and fight for what they believed in.

As always please comment, like, share, tweet, and keep following us down this road of discovery.

All the best, K & D


The Battle of Sheriffmuir

This week saw the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Sheriffmuir which took place on 13th November 1715. As such we decided to look a little more at this key battle of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising.

First, a little bit of background just to set the scene.  In 1714, George I succeeded Queen Anne to the throne as the first ruler of the Hanoverian line. Tensions were already high in some areas following the 1707 Union which was not fully supported across the country. Following his ascension George I, a German from Hanover who could not speak English, managed to alienate more people including a range of former supporters of Anne and now there were more people willing to try to return a Stuart to the throne.

The Earl of Mar had initially been an enthusiastic supporter of George I,  but after being publicly snubbed by the new king, Mar decided to back a different horse, and on 1 September 1715 raised a standard for King James VIII at Braemar. Mar began to raise forces to march south to join with English Jacobites, in an attempt to return a Stuart to the throne. To counter the uprising the government dispatched a combination of Scottish and English regiments under the command of the Duke of Argyll. During October there were various manoeuvres between the two armies. Then on the 10th November the Jacobite army marched south from Perth, reaching Kinbuick, just north east of Dunblane on the 12th November. The Duke of Argyll had marched north and was already at Dunblane, intending to intercept the Jacobite force.

On the 13th November the Jacobites drew up in battle formation on Kinbuick Muir, presumably in order to gain control of the road north to Dunblane, but they had to move more than two kilometers south east from here to Sheriffmuir, to the east of Dunblane, to engage the government force.

Argyll led one squadron of volunteer cavalry, 10 squadrons of dragoons and eight battalions of foot (1,000 cavalrymen and 3,500 infantrymen). The elite of the government army was Portmore’s Dragoons, later to be renowned as the Scots Greys.

Mar led seven squadrons of cavalry (1,000 troopers) and 18 battalions of foot (7,000 infantrymen). Most of Mar’s men were Highlanders fighting with basket-hilted broadswords. Both armies had cannons, but neither side used them although Mar may well have lacked the gunpowder and ammunition to do so. In total there were roughly 6,000 Government forces against 12,000 Jacobite men.

Argyll was seriously outnumbered by the Jacobite army and his left wing, commanded by General Whetham, was far shorter than the Jacobites’ opposing right. However, Mar was inexperienced at commanding such a sizable army (the largest Jacobite army ever raised in Scotland) whilst Argyll was much more proficient in deploying his well trained troops. Argyll’s right wing managed to drive the Jacobites back but then his left wing was overpowered by the overwhelming Jacobite numbers. Over the course of the day the battle see-sawed between the two armies.

By evening, both armies were seriously reduced, and although Mar had a great advantage in numbers, he refused to press home his advantage and risk the entirety of his army and both armies withdrew.The battle was inconclusive with both sides claiming victory although in strategic terms Argyll had halted the Jacobite advance preventing them meeting with the Jacobites in England. The Jacobite army was demoralised by the loss and though the rising continued for another two and a half months it seemed to never truly recover from the loss at Sheriffmuir.

Hopefully you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Sheriffmuir. As always please like, follow, share, tweet, comment and if you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to know more about please let us know.

All the best, K & D