The Secret Symbols of the Jacobites

In the years before the ’45, any signs of Jacobite allegiance were suppressed. Jacobites had to meet and plot in secret. Because of this, a number of secret Jacobite symbols emerged, which revealed to those ‘in the know’ who was on their side.

These symbols included:

  • The White Rose – Used on its own it symbolized the exiled King James but it could be present with one bud symbolizing Prince Charles or two symbolizing Prince Charles and his brother Henry.
  • Oak leaf and acorns – The oak was an ancient Stuart badge and an emblem of the Stuart Restoration. Charles II hid in an oak in the grounds of Boscobel House during the English Civil War, and in 1660 he wore oak leaves as he returned from exile in France to assume the throne. In a withered or ‘stricken’ form frequently with the motto ‘revirescit’ (it revives, it grows green again, it shoots again) the oak is a symbol of restoration and regeneration. Medals struck in 1689 to celebrate the coronation of William and Mary they show a dead oak or a stump together with a flourishing orange tree an obvious reference to the ancestral title of the new ruler
  • Sunflower – a symbol of loyalty as the head of a sunflower constantly follows the sun
  • Butterfly – known for its spectacular hatching from a chrysalis may symbolise hope for the Stuarts’ grand return from exile.
  • Bundles of sticks – representing strength in numbers.
  • Medusa head – the name Medusa in Greek translates as ‘protector’ or ‘guardian’
  • Thistle – representing the Stuarts’ claim to the Scottish throne. The thistle surmounted by a crown was an ancient badge of Scotland.
The White Jacobite Rose

As well as symbols certain phrases were also often used on Jacobite items. “Fiat”, meaning “let it be” or “let it come to pass” and Redeat, Redi, or Revirescit, suggesting hope that the prince will return.

Due to the treasonous nature of Jacobite affiliation symbols were an important way of conveying Jacobite loyalties in a covert way. Jacobites would often drink a toast to the king ‘over the water’ in glasses encoded with these secret symbols. Often a glass of wine would be held above a bowl or glass of water as a toast to the health of the king was offered; thus literally toasting the king over the water.

Some of the earliest Jacobite glasses are the so-called ‘Amen glasses’. These are engraved with a crown, representing the Stuart kingship, and one or more verses of the Jacobite Royal Anthem – sung to the tune of ‘God Save the Queen’ – all of which conclude with the word Amen (Let it be thus). The anthem probably dates back to the time of James II, its reference to the ‘true-born Prince of Wales’ being a refutation of the rumours surrounding the legitimacy of James III’s birth.


A Jacobite Amen Glass

Less than 40 Amen glasses are known to have survived. The majority of Amen glasses are engraved with the first two verses of the Jacobite anthem, and a smaller number with the first three or four verses. Analysis of the handwriting on genuine Amen glasses suggests that they are all the work of a single hand, and were all executed between 1743 and 1749. The artist concerned has been suggested as Scottish line-engraver Sir Robert Strange. Strange trained as an engraver in Edinburgh, joined the Jacobite army in 1745, married ardent Jacobite Isabella Lumisden in 1747 and moved to France in 1748. He returned to England in 1750 and pursued a highly successful career as an artist.

One final hidden Jacobite message which is just a little bit different. Some believe that the popular Christmas carol ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ is actually a Jacobite call to arms. The Latin version of the carol, Adeste Fideles, celebrated not the birth of Jesus but the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. It was written by John Francis Wade an English Jacobite who fled the country after the failed 1745 Rebellion. Fideles is Faithful Catholic Jacobites. Bethlehem is a common Jacobite cipher for England, and Regem Angelorum is a well-known pun on Angelorum (angels) and Anglorum (English). So ‘Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels’ really means, ‘Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English’ – Bonnie Prince Charlie. The English translation was not made until 1841 by which time the Jacobite connotations had been lost.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post and as always please like, share, tweet, comment, follow, reblog and raise a glass of your own to whomever your ‘king over the water’ may be.

All the best, K & D

The Prince Comes to Scotland

270 years ago on the 23rd July 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart set foot on Scottish soil for the first time.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart

From his birth in Rome, Italy on 31st December 1720 Charles had the potential to be a threat to the Hanoverian throne. Indeed, on the night of his birth it is said Hanover was hit by a fierce storm and Gaelic poets proclaimed his birth as the saviour of his people. The early part of Charles’ life was spent with his brother Henry and during his youth he learnt to read fluently, could speak English, French and Italian, was a capable rider and could fire a gun with a good aim.

In 1737 Charles, under the title of Count Albany made a tour of the Italian cities with great reception and the attention this drew was not welcomed by the Hanoverian government. However, it was not until the following year, 1738, that the earliest notion of Charles trying his fortunes in Scotland appeared but he was refused permission and the next seven years were spent waiting and brooding on the subject.

On 9th January 1744 Prince Charles left Rome to make his way to Paris where he had been invited by Louis XV as they prepared to invade England. Charles, just 24 years old, rode in disguise first as a Neopolitan courtier and then as an officer in the Spanish army to reach Genoa. From here he sailed to Antibes and reached Paris on 8th February 1744 where he spent the next couple of months with the French invasion force preparing for the invasion of England. Unfortunately, on 24th February one of the worst storms in a century damaged the French transports, sinking twelve ships and putting five out of action. The French invasion was cancelled.

Disappointed Charles returned to Paris. Finally, in May of 1745 the French defeated the British at Fontenoy and Prince Charles, apparently fed up of talk and speculation, decided to act. In June he wrote to his father in Rome telling him he had been invited over to Scotland with arms and money to restore the crown to the Stuart line.

Charles borrowed money in Paris and bought a store of arms and ammunition and managed to secure passage on board the Du Teillay captained by a wealthy Irish merchant, Anthony Walsh. He also managed to enlist the aid of a French frigate, the Elizabeth to carry his military stores and convoy the Du Teillay across to Scotland.

At last on 22nd June 1745 the Du Teillay set off from the French coast and set off to Belle Isle to meet up with the Elizabeth. On 5th July both ships set forth for Scotland, but it was not to be an easy crossing. Just four days into the voyage an English frigate, the Lion, met them and engaged the Elizabeth. Unable to outrun the English ship the Elizabeth was forced to fight. On board the Du Teillay the Prince was apparently keen to join the action and help but Walsh ordered that the two frigates must fight it out alone. Over five hours later both the Elizabeth and the Lion were so badly damaged they were forced to retreat and return to their respective ports. Prince Charles had lost his convoy and the vast majority of his supplies and he was urged to go with the Elizabeth back to France. But, Charles refused and the Du Teillay sailed on towards Scotland.

Finally, on the 23rd July 1745 the Prince landed on the small island of Eriskay which lies between Barra and South Uist. Here he disembarked and laid his first foot on Scottish soil. One of the first men he met Alexander Macleod of Boisdale tried to encourage the Prince to return home. Prince Charles reply has gone down in history; ‘I am come home.’

We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the background of Prince Charles and as always please like, share, tweet, follow and discover more about the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

All the best. K & D

Time for a Scottish Escape….

With Summer upon us the talk has inevitably veered towards everyone’s holiday plans. We’ve all got our fingers crossed for some nice weather to enjoy our days off and maybe even catch a tan (or in my case just burn!) So, with that said we thought we’d highlight some of the unusual, gorgeous and fun places the National Trust for Scotland has available for holiday accommodation. We’ve picked our favourites and tried to cover all the bases but if in doubt check out for even more great stays.

1. Lairds Wings at Brodie Castle


We thought we’d kick things off with a bit of opulence. Home to the last Laird, Ninian Brodie this spacious apartment can sleep up to 14 people and it gorgeous. I say this from experience as I use to help clean the place when I worked there and was always jealous of anyone who got to stay the night. It’s a great place for wedding parties, birthdays and family gatherings and the dining table is big enough for everyone. There is also a great aga in the main kitchen but if it’s just a snack you need there’s even a cocktail kitchen upstairs, something I’d never even heard of before Brodie.

2. Keepers Cottages at North Ronaldsay Lighthouse


From opulence to something a bit more unusual. What better way to spend your holiday than in the romantic setting of North Ranaldsay lighthouse. The lighthouse is the situated on the most northerly of the Orkney Islands and is the tallest land-based lighthouse in the British Isles. The remoteness of the cottages is definitely part of the appeal with the traditional ways of life still surviving today. And you don’t need to worry too much about the wild seas and blowing wind when you can go home and be greeted by a warm open fire.

3. Mar Lodge Estate


If you’re looking for something with stunning beauty all around why not try Mar Lodge Estate. It has a range of apartments and is situated in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Recently used as the based for BBC’s Winterwatch, Mar Lodge is a beautifully restored Victorian sporting lodge creating a relaxing Highland retreat. I have been lucky enough to stay here and had a great time out walking before returning to the lodge and playing pool on their full size pool table. It also has its famous stag ballroom and plenty of stag heads throughout the lodge. A little creepy to walk through alone at night but spectacular none the less. Plus, it has its own generator which came in very handy when there was a power cut in the town whilst I was staying there.

4.Brodick Camping Pod at Brodick Castle


For those who are on a budget definitely consider the Camping Pods at Brodick. They are really cute and are very handy as they have a fridge, kettle, heater and you get use of all the extra facilities at Shore Lodge. With each pod sleeping up to four people they are great value and being based on the island of Arran provide a great base for exploring every corner of the island whether you’re aiming to climb Goatfell or check out the geology.

5. The Gladstone Flat at Gladstones Land


Situated on Edinburghs royal mile Gladstones Land is often referred to as a hidden gem and the flat above is no exception. Right in the heart of Edinburghs atmospheric Old Town the flat is on the top floor and offers great views of Edinburgh and out towards Fife. Also, to get to the flat you get to climb up the original winding stone staircase which is great fun. Don’t worry though the flat itself is perfectly modern and is a perfect cosy spot in a great destination.

Hopefully we’ve managed to tempt you with these properties but if not don’t worry because there are plenty more from seaside cottages to town apartments. Now all we need is the sun to shine and we’ll be all set for a great summer!

As always like, share, follow, tweet, comment and let us know your perfect Scottish holiday spot!

All the best K & D

A Jacobite Jaunt

This week we went on what has become affectionately known by those at Culloden as the ‘Jacobite Jaunt’. Every year as a thank you to our volunteers we try to organise a day out where we can explore new places of Jacobite interest and also have a bit of fun. So this Thursday a bunch of us headed out on the latest jaunt to see what we could find.

Expertly led by our fearless learning officer Jon we started off by heading into town to Inverness Museum. Here we were given a great tour of the site and taken back stage to see some of the artefacts in storage. This included a waistcoat supposedly worn by Prince Charles Edward Stuart which was gorgeous and letters and documents from the 18th Century. We also got the chance to feel the difference between older tartan compared to modern day. Thanks to the setting agents used now current day tartan is soft and pliable but back in the 18th Century it was much stiffer and harder to move. Not something you usually consider and great to be able to get a chance to understand the difference. It’s safe to say we were all rather pleased our costumes are softer than they were back in the day. We also saw a beautiful tartan wedding dress which is on display in the museum. The tartan would have been hidden away after the Battle of Culloden when tartan was banned and then once the Proscription Act was lifted it was remade into a gorgeous dress which is still worn for weddings by the family to this day.

Fraser Wedding Dress at Inverness Museum

Next it was off to Culloden House Hotel. I have to say we felt very posh sitting enjoying a cup of coffee in the drawing room and we were treated as we were shown the original wall of the building which was hidden behind the ‘door to nowhere’. Refreshed we then went out to the walled garden and we managed to see the bench which the ‘Ladies of Lallybroch’ donated on behalf of Diana Gabaldon. She has stayed at the hotel and her Outlander series of books has certainly brought many visitors to the area.

Culloden House Hotel

From here it was a bit of a drive through to Elgin. Here we had a look around Elgin Museum which again houses some Jacobite artefacts and took a walk to see Thunderton House which is said to have been used as a hiding place for Prince Charles before Culloden.

Unfortunately, then it was time to make our way back to Culloden but, we made sure to take the scenic route to catch a few more treasures. Driving through Nairn we paused to see the plaque commemorating the spot where the Duke of Cumberland stayed the night before the Battle of Culloden.  We also drove past the battlefields of Auldearn where the Covenanters fought in 1645. Today you can stop at Boath Doocot, once part of a twelfth century castle, which has views across the fields where the fighting took place.

Plaque in Nairn

Finally as we got nearer to Culloden we turned off and Jon took us on a rather narrow road to show us a ravine. At first it didn’t look that special but he explained that this was one of the spots where the Jacobite army had thought about fighting with the steep grassy slopes at the side ideal for slowly down the Government army. What if questions arose but who knows what would have happened had the Jacobite army fought there or over the River Nairn.

Overall it was a great day with chance for us all to unwind and do a bit of team bonding whilst getting a great opportunity to explore more Jacobite history so that we can pass it along to all of you when you visit.

As always we hope you enjoyed the post. Please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and let us know about your own ‘Jacobite Jaunts.’

All the best. K & D

A Little Bit About Outlander

This year we have been amazed by the amount of people coming to Scotland after reading or watching ‘Outlander’ the fictional series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. We usually get a few people who’ve read the series and what to know more but this year with the launch of the TV show things have grown so much it’s sometimes tricky to keep up.


For those who aren’t in the know the series follows Claire Beauchamp as she falls back through time through a set of standing stones from the 1940’s ending up in 1743. Here she meets Jamie Fraser and has to find her way in 18th Century Scotland. The stories cover the history leading up to and beyond Culloden and have been read by millions worldwide.

So, with that in mind we thought we’d share a bit of our Outlander story. When we found out that Outlander was being made into a TV series we were a bit dubious about how well Scotland and the 18th Century would be portrayed. Luckily we were soon reassured as people came to Culloden to scout the location and make sure everything was accurate. Filming took place at a number of National Trust for Scotland properties so there was lots of excitement on how the final product would appear.

In January we managed to get hold of the first half of series one and in preparation for the new year ahead a few of us sat down to watch. Unfortunately, the some of us included two male learning officers who were, shall we say, reluctant to participate. Watching the shows with two men pointing out every historical inaccuracy made the experience unique to say the least but we all had to admit by the end that they’d done a pretty good job in bringing the stories to life.

Since then we’ve tried to become Outlander experts and guide people to interesting spots on their journey around Scotland. Obviously lots of people come to us her at Culloden. As such a big part of the second book and series people are drawn to our bleak field and many cant help but stop at the Fraser stone on the field which these days usually has a flower or two at its side. However, it’s also nice to know a few other places where visitors can go and explore more about the series.

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

The mystical stones of Craigh na Dun in the books, where Claire falls back through time, are just five minutes from the battlefield. Gabaldon based the stone on the site of Clava Cairns an ancient burial ground with chambered cairns surrounded by standing stones. There is even one that has a cleft running down the centre and is supposedly the stone through which Claire falls through time. Granted they may not look the same as the TV series but when you visit the site there is a calm atmosphere that lends itself to the imagination.

Cleft stone at Clava Cairns

Inverness plays a part in the series as well. But the 1940’s Inverness of the books doesn’t look quite the same as the modern day city. For the backdrop to those scenes you’ll need to head to Falkland in Fife where you can see the Bruce Fountain in the town square as well as the guesthouse and shops from the very first Outlander episode.

Falkland Square aka 1940’s Inverness

For a feel of the 18th Century though we recommend heading to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore where they have 18th Century crafting houses that formed the Mackenzie village the highlanders travel to whilst collecting rent. As you walk around you will able to spot plenty of sites where filming took place.

The Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore

For more filming locations check out Culross in Fife which doubled as the home town for Geillis Duncan, Preston Mill whose backdrop viewers will certainly recognise from scenes in the 1940’s and if you want to be taken back to the woods of old head to Tulloch Ghru in the Cairngorms.

Preston Mill

Of course there is also Doune Castle which stand in for Castle Leoch in the TV series. However, the true seat of Clan Mackenzie is Castle Leod which is found in the Highlands near Strathpeffer. It was here that Diana Gabaldon, who became a guardian of the castle, planted a rowan tree and is now backing a campaign to help save the castle.

Castle Leod near Strathpeffer

If you’re a fan of Outlander there’s plenty to see and do but the best thing for us is meeting everyone who has read the books or seen the show and been inspired to come and learn the true history and investigate their own Scottish ancestry. So, if you do come to Scotland be sure to come and say hello to us and we’ll help you find your clan, tell you about some real Jacobites and hopefully inspire you even more.

Oh, and just before I forget, we’ve also got some Outlander inspired merchandise in the shop, including the Outlander ring which is based on Jamie and Claires wedding ring and of course all of the books.

The Outlander Ring

Hope you enjoyed the post please like, share, tweet, comment and if you haven’t yet maybe pick up a copy of Outlander and see what all the fuss is about.

All the best K & D