The Battle of Prestonpans

On 21st September 1745 the Battle of Prestonpans took place between the Jacobite and Government armies. This battle is one of the most well know of the battles of the ’45 Uprising and yet it is estimated to have lasted less than ten minutes. So, how did this battle come to be and why was all the action over in ten minutes?

We begin on 17th September 1745 when the Jacobite army captured Edinburgh. The city gate at Netherbow Port was opened to let a coach through and seizing the opportunity Jacobites rushed the sentries and gained control of the city. The next day Prince Charles’ father was proclaimed King James VIII at the Mercat Cross and Charles entered the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Whilst at Edinburgh Prince Charles encouraged the city’s churches to remain open on Sundays and for normal Presbyterian services to continue as a show of the religious tolerance he had promised. His pleas however fell on deaf ears and all but a handful of churches remained closed throughout the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh.

With the Jacobites in the city the Government army began its advance determined to take back Edinburgh. The long column with its train of artillery and baggage wagons extended for several miles and attracted many country people to the unusual spectacle. On the 19th September they camped at Haddington where they went in search of a meal, but, before they sat down the drums beat to arms and the men hurried back to their regiments ready to face the enemy. However, this was soon discovered to be a false alarm which, it was alleged, had followed the coach of Hon. Francis Charteris and his newly-wedded wife to their home. This rumour may have been true as the bride was a daughter of the Duchess of Gordon who had Jacobite sympathies; the husbands elder brother, Lord Elcho, was with the Prince and indeed the husband himself had subscribed to the cause.

The nexy day the Government army were surprised to learn the Jacobite army were heading out of the city to meet them. General Sir John Cope commander of the Government forces decided to wait for them at Preston where the flat unobstructed ground would hopefully suit his troops, in particular the dragoons and the Forth estuary at their back prevented any flanking manoevers by the Jacobites. That night the Jacobites moved forward under the cover of the dark and mist.

Finally on the 21st September 1745 the two armies met.  Lord George Murray commanded the left wing of the Jacobites making a significant contribution to the victory by suggesting the army make use of a little known path through the marshland to surprise the Government army by coming up on their left flank. The men set out at about 4am and silently moved through the marshlands to the east of the Government men.  As dawn broke the Jacobites 2,000 men charged. The Government army wheeled around to face them but the men only manage to fire one shot before the Jacobties were upon them. As the Jacobties charged the Government fled overwhelmed by the attack.

General Cope tried to rally his men but they turned and fled without ever putting up a strong resistance. Cope then fled to Berwick leaving 500 men dead and over 1,000 men as prisoners. Meanwhile the Jacobites had less than a hundred men dead or wounded. When Cope reached Berwick he was supposedly ridiculed for being the only General who had ever brought first news of his own defeat.

After the battle Prince Charles would not allow any bonfires to be lit or church bells to be rung to mark the victory. Nobody was to be seen exalting in the suffering of those who had died or been wounded at the battle. Indeed Prince Charles delayed his leave of the battlefield to visit the injured and instructed that the dead received a proper burial. On the Government side, Lt General Henry Hawley replaced Cope as Commander in Chief of Scotland and it is said that Cope made a large amount of money by betting £10,000 Hawley would be defeated by the clans just as he had been.

The Battle of Prestonpans was the first major conflict of the 1745 Uprising and was an important victory for the Jacobties, giving them a boost in morale as they turned their thoughts to the South.

We hope you enjoyed this little foray into the Battle of PRestonpans. As always please like, share, follow, comment and tell all your friends about us.

All the best, K & D

An 18th Century Meal

It’s been a while since we shared some of our 18th Century recipes so today we chose a classic meal for you to enjoy.

For main course we have selected ‘A Forc’d Turkey’ which could quite possibly become the new Thanksgiving or Christmas staple if you’re feeling brave.

A Forc’d Turkey

Take a large turkey. After a day kild, slit it down ye back, & bone it & then wash it. Clean stuf it as much in ye shape it was as you can with forc’d meat made of 2 pullits yt has been skin’d, 2 handfulls of crumbs of bread, 3 handfulls of sheeps sewit, some thyme, & parsley, 3 anchoves, some pepper & allspice, a whole lemon sliced thin, ye seeds pick’d out & minced small, a raw egg. Mix all well together stuf yr turkey & sow it up nicely at ye back so as not to be seen. Then spit it & rost it with paper on the breast to preserve ye coler of it nicely. Then have a sauce made of strong greavy, white wine, anchoves, oysters, mushrooms slic’d, salary first boyl’d a littile, some harticholk bottoms, some blades of mace, a lump of butter roll’d in flower. Toss up all together & put ym in yr dish. Don’t pour any over ye turkey least you spoyl ye coler. Put ye gisard & liver in ye wings. Put sliced lemon & forc’d balls for garnish.

A pretty straight forward recipe but if anyone is wondering a pullit, or pullet, is a young hen typically less than a year old. Overall, we think we could handle this recipe, apart from the boning as we’d probably take our fingers off if we tried, we are rather clumsy. However, this one certainly makes our mouths water far more than other 18th Century recipes.


To follow this extravagant main we have a homely dessert of bread pudding.

To Make a Bread Pudding

Take a  meonshit [manchet]. Cut of the crust, slice it in thin slices the pour a quart of boyling milk on it. Then take 12 eggs, half the whites. Beat them very well with a little nutmeg, a qr of a pd of sugar, 2 or 3 spoonfulls of rose water, a glass of sack. Mix all the ingredients well together. Butter yr pan. 3 qrs of an hour bakes it. The same way for boyling, only put in a small spoonfull of flower. An hour for boyling. You may put in sewit if you please. Sack, butter & sugar for sauce. When boyled, don’t mix the pudding till the milk is cold.

This recipe uses a manchet or a small loaf, sack which is sherry and the addition of rose water which sounds lovely and once again is definitely among our favourite 18th Century recipes.

Let us know if you make either of these delights and as always please share, tweet, like, follow and comment.

All the best K & D

A little bit of Gaelic

Today we thought we’d explore a little bit about the history of Scottish Gaelic. Here at Culloden, or Cùil Lodair, we get quite a few questions about the language as we are lucky enough to have dual language elements in our centre. So, we thought we’d use this opportunity to give a bit more information about the language.


Gaelic is a Celtic language thought to originate from the north east corner of Ireland, which slowly spread its way across to the western areas of Scotland. Scottish Gaelic is a close relative of Welsh, Cornish and Breton, but shares a more intimate relationship with Irish and Manx Gaelic. These three Gaelic or Goidelic languages descend from a common ancestor, spoken in Ireland in the late first millennium BC and early first millennium AD.  In Scotland, Gaelic became established as the main language and played a part in distinguishing the different cultures of the Highlands from the Lowlands of Scotland. The language has strong connections to the Highland clans, with laws and customs fully written and spoken in Gaelic.

As the influence of the lowlands grew and swept north into the Highlands, so did the English language that we now speak today. Gaelic declined slowly over the centuries and there were several historical events which had an impact on the language, including the Act of Union with England in 1707 and the Highland Clearances following the Battle of Culloden. Gaelic however left its mark across the whole of Scotland and its influence can be seen in the names of Scottish places, mountains, on official buildings and on bilingual road signs on the west coast and islands.


The Gaelic alphabet only contains 18 letters (the letters j, k, q, v, w, x, y, and z are not used) and looks a little different to the English one, with accented vowels and different letter sounds to get accustomed to. The roots of the language are closely connected to nature and the ancient Scottish landscape. There are more than 100 words for mountain and over 40 for bog. Indeed the letters themselves were named after plants and trees, for example, the letter ‘a’ is ailm, which translates to ‘elm’ in English.

Today the Highlands and Islands of Scotland account for 55 percent of Scotland’s Gaelic speakers. It is most widely spoken in communities in the Outer Hebrides, as well as island communities on the Isle of Skye, and to a lesser extent, Argyll & The Isles. The Highlands is also known as Gáidhealtachd, the ‘land of the Gaels’, and proudly celebrates its Gaelic heritage. Interest in the language continues to grow, with various Gaelic language courses available, dedicated television and radio channels and cultural events taking place to celebrate contemporary Gaelic culture. Thanks to this the language is enjoying an increase in speakers and learners, with many young people choosing to learn the language of their ancestors, Inverness itself now hosts a Gaelic school and many schools offer Gaelic as an option to study.

Due to a high number of Scottish emigrants in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Gaelic communities have also emerged across the world, most notably in Canada, in the Nova Scotia region, but also in New Zealand, Australia and other regions in North America. If you are interested in learning Gaelic be sure to check out for more information and resources.

To leave you we thought we’d give you a quick taster of Gaelic with a few key phrases:

Good Morning – Madainn Mhath  – pronounced ‘Matdeen va’

Good Afternoon – Feasgar Math – pronounced ‘Fessger ma’

Goodbye – Mar sin leibh – pronounced ‘ Mar shin leyv’

Thank you – Tapadh leibh – pronounced ‘Tapa layv’

A hundred thousand welcomes – Céad míle fáilte – pronounced ‘Cade meelah fallcha’

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this post and as always please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and be inspired to learn a little Gaelic.

All the best K & D.




Medicine in the 18th Century

There is so much more to Culloden Battlefield than just the history of the Jacobites and we love the fact that we get to also look at conservation, archaeology, geology and the ecology of the land. One topic which has seen a growing interest lately at the centre is that of the plants and flowers which are found on the battlefield (possibly due to their prominence in the Outlander series) and their uses in the 17th Century.

Hence we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk a little bit about some of the plants found on the battlefield and their important uses in terms of both medicine and everday use.

Firstly, the plant Comfrey. The roots of this plant are not too dissimilar to a parsnip and would be available all year round. The roots were beaten to a pulp and mixed with presumably wool and used to knit bones in a similar way to a plaster cast. They were also boiled in wine to help bruises or ulcers.

Comfrey Root

Borage was used to expel pensiveness and melancholy. It would have been used only in fresh form and the juice, which apparently smells like cucumber, was made into a syrup in order to open and cleanse wounds. The roots and leaves were also used for fever and it is said they were good at defending the heart from poisons.


Yarrow leaves were packed into the wound to help stop the bleeding and indeed its Gaelic names include ‘Lus chasgadh ne fada’ or ‘the plant which staunches bleeding. A poultice made from Yarrow and Toadflax could also be used to help induce sleep and ease pain.

Yarrow Leaves

Creeping Jenny or Moneywort was used to stay any bleeding. The leaves were available most of the year and encouraged the quick healing of wounds.

creeping jenny
Creeping Jenny

Bugle was made into a syrup which was carried year round by many people as a general tonic. During battle it was apparently very effective at treating stab wounds and after battle gangrene could be cured by laying bruised leaves on the wound and the washing the area with the juice of the plant.


These are just a few examples of plants that would have been used during the time of Culloden and focuses mainly on those that would have been helpful in a battle environment. However, many more plants were used for more general ailments such as honeysuckle for sore throats, nettles for easing shortness of breath, dandelion for helping sleep in those with fever and juniper for strengthening the brain.

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always please comment, like, tweet, follow and share any of your medical tips with us here at Culloden.

All the best. K & D