Hugh Miller and Culloden

Culloden is such a key part of Scottish, British and indeed world history that you find reference to it cropping up in lots of places. For example, the laird of Brodie Castle had government troops camps on his land before the battle and Fort George at Ardersier was built after the battle to house all the government troops stationed in the Highlands to police the Jacobites.

For this post though we are looking at the story of Hugh Miller’s grandfather that can be found at Hugh Millers Birthplace Museum in Cromarty.

Hugh Miller's Cottage, Cromarty, Ross-shire.
Hugh Miller’s Cottage in Cromarty

Hugh Miller’s grandfather witnessed the Battle of Culloden from the Hill of Cromarty when he was a boy of fourteen. His grandfather told of the day being drizzly and thick, and when he climbed the hill he found many townsfolk already assembled. A little after midday a round white cloud rose from Culloden Moor, and then a second beside it. He recalled hearing the rattle of smaller fire-arms mingled with the roar of artillery. Then after what felt like an exceedingly short space of time the clouds dissipated, and the rattle and roar was replaced with the sharp patter of musketry.

In his recount of these events Miller also talks of another story told to him by a woman who on the day of the battle was tending sheep. She sat listening to the boom of the cannon in terror but was still more scared by the howling of her dog, who sat upright on his haunches the whole time the firing continued, reportedly “looking as if he saw a spirit”.

During his life Miller also spoke with at least two soldiers who fought at Culloden, one on the government side, the other the Jacobite. The first, a forester, accompanied the Government Army to Fort Augustus and spoke of the atrocities he saw, some of which still made his blood boil seventy years later. He talked of scores of cottages in flames, and droves of cattle brought in from Highlanders’ lands. At one point he mentions there must have been about twenty thousand cattle, and groups of drovers from Yorkshire and the south of Scotland used to come in every day to share in the spoil and buy the cattle at greatly reduced prices.

This unique personal account is an amazing recollection that helps bring the story of Culloden to life and we love to hear these special insights that help connect us to the feelings of the people at the time of the battle and share so much more of the story than just facts and figures.

We hope you enjoyed hearing this story and do be sure to check out the excellent Hugh Millers Birthplace in Cromarty if you would like to learn more about this remarkable man. (And yes it is National Trust for Scotland, you can’t blame us for being biased!)

As always like, tweet, follow, share and tell stories of your own because one day they may become fascinating glimpses into history for later generations to enjoy. All the best K & D.


5 thoughts on “Hugh Miller and Culloden

    • Hi, Cromarty is on the Black Isle just to the north of Inverness and it would have been from here looking over across the Moray Firth the Millers grandfather would have seen and heard the battle taking place


      • Hi Thank you for getting back to me I am unable to find the Hill of Cromarty on my Ordnance survey map can you give me the grid ref numbers please as this would help me find it on the map thank you for your help


      • Hi,
        You’re right, there is no Hill of Cromarty listed on an OS map today! Place names can change over time, particularly if they are only locally-given place names. We believe that Miller’s grandfather would have been standing on the Sutors of Cromarty to the east of the village of Cromarty, the grid reference is NH 808669.
        The Sutors are 2 headlands that mark the entrance to the Cromarty Firth. The word sutor is the Scots word for shoemaker, one story tells of 2 giant sutors who used the 2 headlands as their workbenches throwing tools across the Firth to each other!


  1. British commanders who ordered the battle of culloden have never been publiclly berated or even
    named. and the battle after culloden (for it was a maurading battle)…with British forces being given
    orders open to intrepretion and hence caused a great many deaths and family coffers raided.
    i have often wondered, why the scottish left standing after the british degragation (a genocide action)
    of scottish landowners& church that the british government was never sued for the damages and
    the cost repatriated to the scottish clans?? today we see the jews being quite successful in getting
    back artwork , monies, family artifacts from Hitlers (germany) actions. i ask why the british did not
    have to pay back the monies & goods looted from their clan castles etc.????
    after all the jacobite sentiments were in the background of the american revolution.


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