A Little Bit of Swordplay

Since Easter is fast approaching, some places may suggest some beautiful, topical crafts for the family to enjoy. Maybe painting eggs or making cupcakes, but here at Culloden we tend to do things a little differently!

So if you’re bored of making the same old things for Easter why not mix it up and make the kids their very own basket-hilted broadsword and targe!

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We have devised a brilliant way to occupy the childrens time, keep them playing for hours and all without making too much mess.

So, just how do you make a sword?

First, equipment, you will need:

Milk bottle, cardboard, scissors,masking tape, duct tape, glue (optional) and colouring pens/pencils.

1. Cut the handle off a milk bottle. We recommend at least a four pint bottle so there’s enough room for the blade but it can be done with two pints and a bit of strength.

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2. Cut out a sword shape from the cardboard with a narrow strip at the bottom to fit into the hole of the milk bottle handle. Also cut out two smaller strips of cardboard for support.

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3. Attach the two strips of cardboard along the thin strip as support using masking or duct tape. They should extend into the main sword piece to give stability and add some character to the sword.

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4. Not bad, but still looks like cardboard. So, cover the sword with duct tape to give it a beautiful shiny silver finish. Or you can use different coloured tape to create your own unique interpretation of a sword.

5. Insert the sword into the handle ensuring a tight fit. Muscles may be required. (Glue can be used to secure more fully into position)

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6. Last but not least, brandish your sword with pride! (We gave our to Bonnie Prince Charlie, not sure how happy he looks about it!)

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You can also make an accompanying targe (shield) with cardboard and colouring pens/pencils, finished off with a handle on the back made from either cardboard or rope.

Alternatively, if you fancy letting other people do all the work join us at Culloden for crafts on Sunday 5th April!

Enjoy your Easter and please share your homemade sword and targe pictures with us on Twitter (@CullodenNTS) or FaceBook (Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre) we’d love to see them. Have fun! K & D

Our Neighbour – Brodie

Before I (Debbie) came to work in the wonder that is Culloden Battlefield I actually worked at another NTS site, Brodie Castle which just so happens to be our neighbour but I thought it only fair to give you the highlights of the place.

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Brodie Castle

As a 16th century tower house with additions pretty much every century since, Brodie Castle may not be your typical ‘princess-towering-turrets-moat and a drawbridge’ castle but its unusual style and charm is what makes it somewhere truly special. I couldn’t take you through the whole place as it would take forever, but here’s what not to miss.

Brodie Castle, Moray.
Stained glass window at Brodie Castle

Firstly, George. In the entrance hall is a lovely bronze statue of an orang-utan sat just by the window and he is called George. First reason to like him is he’s cute; second he’s probably not what you expect to see in a 16th century home but the best reason is his story. The last laird who lived at Brodie, Ninian, was an actor and thus prone to superstitious tendencies. Whenever he had a group dining with him he refused to have thirteen at the table. So, if this ever happened George would be carried upstairs and become the fourteenth guest. So next time you’re passing be sure to spot George on your way in.

If you go on a tour of the castle, and without being biased you should it’s really good, then there is plenty to see whether you like paintings, furniture or porcelain. For me though I love the family stories that make the place come alive. For instance, Ninian and his brothers used to play a delightful game where they would lean over the banister at the top of the stairs and try to spit into the bowl at the front entrance. Always a good story for kids though you do have to watch they don’t try it themselves, the Trust definitely frowns upon that.

Brodie Castle.
One of the turrets at Brodie Castle

My favourite room though is probably the dining room because of its gorgeous ceiling. It’s made of plaster but actually looks like wood and it’s a bit of a mystery as the paperwork on its history was lost in a fire. It depicts the four basic elements of earth, air, wind and fire and is believed to have been made by Italian craftsmen. To add to the fun there’s also a great trick in the room to let you see the ceiling without craning your neck too much. At the end of the table is a huge mirror and if you look closely it’s actually positioned on a slight tilt so that when guests are sat around the table they can simply look over at the mirror and see the ceiling reflected back at them. A great way for the lairds to show off their extravagant ceiling.

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Daffodils covering the ground at Brodie

If however, you choose not to go on tour then do not fear for there is still plenty to do. The gardens at Brodie are world famous for their daffodils, of which they hold the National Collection. Once over 400 varieties of daffodil grew on the estate and the Trust is slowing building the collection back up. When you come to work along a glowing driveway filled with daffodil blooms you can’t help but smile. And not everything is old at Brodie, oh no. Behind the castle if a great play area for the little ones, and the not so little ones. Everything is fun, trust me I speak from experience (someone had to test everything) and I definitely recommend the zip line! Oh, and be sure to check out the tearoom after the exertion because the cakes are lovely, millionaires shortbread was my nemesis and licking out the bowls was heaven!

Hopefully you’ll be inspired to walk the grounds or take a look inside and be sure to say hi to everyone from me. As always share, like, tweet, discuss, criticise and applaud. D

P.S. Brodie is hosting just one of this year Cadbury Easter Egg hunts. Be sure to check them out, with over 50 properties participating hopefully there will be one near you!

Short Bread – 18th Century Style

Hi folks,

We recently found some great 18th Century recipes and thought we should share some with you.

To start off we chose the old Scottish classic – Shortbread! Feel free to give it a shot and let us know how you get on!

To make Short Bread.

Take a Peck of flour, and four pounds of butter English, or three pounds Scots weight; put the butter on to come a-boil; make a hole in the flour, and pour the boiling butter in it; work the flour and butter a little while together; pour in a mutchkin of good yeast amongst the paste; work it together, but not too much; divide the paste, and roll it out oval; then cut through the middle, and plait it at the ends; keep out a little of the flour to work out the bread; flour gray paper, and fire the bread on it: if you make it sweet, allow a pound of sugar to the peck of flour at least; if you want it very rich, put in citron, orange-peel, and almonds, strew white carvy on the top; be sure to mix the sugar and the fruit with the flour before you wet it; remember to prick it well on top. Fire it on paper, dusted with flour, in a moderate oven.

Now for some modern day definitions!

A peck of flour is 8 quarts

A mutchkin is a quarter of an old Scottish pint or three quarters of an imperial pint (about 0.43 litres)

And, Scottish measures were often different to English measures until the mid-19th Century.

During the 18th Century these yeast raised breads were common throughout the British Isles. In Scotland they were called ‘Short Bread’ since they were so short due to the large amounts of butter used however, in England very similar enriched breads ware made called ‘Seed Cake.’

Now you may notice 18th Century Short Bread differs from todays shortbread. This is because it was a yeast raised bread enriched with butter but by the mid-19th Century the use of yeast in shortbread recipes was abandoned and the addition of fruits and almonds was reduced resulting in roughly what we see today.

Have fun with your baking and fingers crossed everything tastes good! K&D

As always please share, tweet, like, comment and take photos of your 18th Century Short Bread for the world to see!

What a winter!

This winter has been a bit mad at Culloden for us Cullodenites, (may have just made that word up, but it sounds good!)  with crazy weather and lots of work to get done before we reopened in February. Luckily everything went our way and we are now back up and running ready for another great season.

So, just what do we get up to when we’re closed?

Well, we’ve revamped our restaurant to make it more inviting, with lovely new comfy chairs on which to enjoy a delicious slice of cake with your coffee. It was great fun when they arrived and we all took turns to sit on them, probably looked very daft but we enjoyed it. And we’ve got new cute centrepieces to add a touch of colour.

Plus, and this is very important for anyone looking to change up a restaurant out there… we have squinted the tables! Sounds ridiculous but it is amazing how much difference it makes. Surprising how many people stood looking down the restaurant in wonder at the transformation of twisting some tables.

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We’ve also got new tiles in the toilets and new soap which is very nice. Swear it is nicer than the stuff I have at home and we all now happily do dirty tasks so we can wash our hands in the fancy soap.

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But, the main thing this winter was the storms we faced which caused some unexpected excitement…

The winds were pretty bad and the first thing you noticed the next morning as you drove up the driveway was the lovely Leanach cottage. May not sound exciting but considering there is suppose to be a row of fencing between the car park and battlefield it was a little worrying. However, further investigation showed fences were nothing compared to the roof.

Luckily the structure of the building was fine so nothing was damaged inside but we had an air conditioning unit blown over and sidings strewn across the roof. Thankfully we have an awesome facilities team who cleared the site despite being in a foot of snow and work is underway to fix everything back to its original state. Mother Nature does like to keep us on our toes!

In other news we decorated the staff room. Granted you may not see it but we are very proud considering certain other members of staff were, shall we say, less than convinced that we could do it. Never underestimate three determined women! In one day we got the whole room painted fresh and even added a fun Tetris column. Suffice to say we silenced our critics who begrudgingly admitted they were wrong and we were right. So if you’re ever in need of some painting give us a call!

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So that was the winter and now we are back open for business and welcoming more people to Culloden every day. It’s great to have the doors open again and for the new season to kick off so why not come along and see us.

As usual tweet, like, post, share and sing about us at the top of your lungs. K & D

Who are we?

Hello! 🙂 And welcome to our new blog!

Culloden, Inverness.
Culloden Moor

Since we are brand new we thought we’d best write a little intro so you know who on earth we are. So, we are Karen and Debbie, two slightly crazy people who love working for the National Trust for Scotland and decided it would be a good idea to share some of our shenanigans with you guys, the wonderful, clever and hopefully equally as daft public. (Fingers crossed it turns out to be a good idea.)

Inverewe Garden, NTS, Highlands
Inverewe Gardens

We are both lucky enough to work at Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre based in the bonnie highlands of Scotland and are both Visitor Experience Champions for the site. (We like the title because we get to call ourselves champions, pretty awesome.) Basically this means we look for new ways to make your visit more enjoyable, interesting, rewarding and of course fun. Thus, we came up with this blog to try and get you all excited about the National Trust for Scotland and all the amazing things it has to offer. Doubt us? Well when you’ve got castles, gardens, mountains, battlefields, cottages, islands, estates, houses, coasts and so on there is something for everyone!

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Brodie Castle

Now since we are based in the north we don’t deny that we might be a bit biased and its a given that we will be keeping you up to date on all the Culloden news since we are here quite a bit but fortunately there is a whole army of visitor experience champions across the country making sure we include every area and showcase all the best properties and sites across the Trust and hopefully found out bit to inspire you to visit!

Enjoy! K&D

 

As always please like, share, tweet and whatever else you feel the urge to do and if you want to contact us you can email culloden@nts.org.uk