Lost Jacobite Gold

Time to hit another Jacobite legend and unravel some of the mysteries of its tales. This time we’re looking at the legend of Prince Charles Edward Stuarts’ Jacobite gold.

The legend tells of up to seven casks of gold coins being landed on the west coast of Scotland by two French frigates, the Bellona and Mars, in late April 1746. The ships had not heard of the recent defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden and were rushing to help the Jacobites. As the French ships landed they were spotted by Government warships and they hastily unloaded their cargo so they could head out to meet the incoming warships. After some tense fighting the French apparently damaged one of the British warships and were able to make their escape back to France leaving their precious cargo behind.

It is said the money was unloaded at Loch nan Uamh in Arisaig and the caskets then brought up to Loch Arkaig, near Fort William, and hidden. Many believe the locations secret was entrusted to Murray of Broughton, one of the Jacobite fugitives. Murray began the distribution to clan chiefs, but when he was arrested by the government, and turned King’s evidence against the Jacobites, the treasure was entrusted first to Donald Cameron of Lochiel, and then to Ewen Macpherson of Cluny, Chief of Clan Macpherson, who was hiding in a cave at Ben Alder. Over the months that followed it is believed the god was reburied multiple times to prevent the Government from finding it and making it tricky to follow its path.

Loch Arkaig – suspected hiding spot of the Jacobite gold


Cluny is believed to have held onto the gold’s location for many years and supposedly used it to help fugitive Jacobite men where he could. Some of the money seems to have got back to Charles in the 1750’s, but the total amount of gold was never recovered. Cluny was never able to account for all of the money and years later Prince Charles is said to have accused Cluny of embezzling it.

The whereabouts of the missing gold caused quite a stir amongst the surviving Jacobites and in 1753, Dr Archibald Cameron, the brother of Cameron of Lochiel was sent to locate the missing money. While in Scotland he was unfortunately captured after his location was betrayed and was charged for his part in the ’45 Rising. He was sentenced to death and was executed in London on 7th June 1753.

Dr Archibald Cameron who was sent to search for the missing gold


After Cameron was killed the trail then goes cold. Many still believed the gold was hidden, most likely buried, somewhere near Loch Arkaig but none could ever find the stash. In the 1850’s there were apparently some French and Spanish gold coins found in the right area but nothing substantial that could be claimed as the missing Jacobite gold.

Today it is still a mystery as to where the treasure may be hidden. Some believe it must be hidden near Cluny’s Cage where Cluny lived in hiding for years after the defeat at Culloden. Small hints have been found over the years with references to the gold appearing in the Clan Cameron archives which suggest before Dr Cameron was arrested he hid the gold at Callich burn and there was also a letter found in 2003 in a second hand shop which recorded the deathbed confession of Neill Iain Ruairi.

Ruairi claimed to have passed Loch Arkaig as the treasure was being buried. The letter claims he was hiding when clansmen buried the gold and when they left he helped himself to a bag of coins. Upon hearing voices he snatched the bag and headed to Arisaig burying the bag on his way. Unfortunately as he made his escape he fell from his horse and was badly injured. On his death bed he gave directions to his buried gold stating it was buried near Arisaig under a black stone with a tree root springing from it. The letter surfaced in 1911 when a doctor in the Arisaig area, Alexander Campbell, was presented with it by a grateful elderly patient. He apparently searched for the gold but found nothing and letter went missing until it was found in 2003.

The treasure has been searched for many times but no one has ever found the missing Jacobite gold so, if any is hidden, then the Jacobites certainly did a good job and who knows how long it will be before it is found.

Who knows where the missing gold is now?


We hope you enjoyed this tale of the Jacobite gold. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and perhaps try your own luck at finding the elusive treasure.

All the best, K & D

A Few Facts about Scotland

Here at Culloden we like to think we are a fairly well known piece of Scottish history and love to share the history of Culloden, and indeed Scotland, with our visitors but we’re sure there’s a few things about Scotland that you might not know.

For example, did you know that the Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695 and is the oldest surviving bank in Scotland and post-dates the Bank of England by just one year. In 1696, it became the first commercial bank in Europe to successfully issue paper currency, a function it still performs today. During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the Bank of Scotland was forced to close its doors when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army occupied the City of Edinburgh. All the Bank’s papers and valuables were transferred to Edinburgh Castle for safe-keeping. There they remained for two months, until the rebel army finally departed.

Or if you want a bit of architecture, why not try Marischal College? At 400ft long and 80ft high Marischal College in Aberdeen is the second largest granite building in the world after the royal residence and monastery of El Escorial near Madrid. Construction of the current Marischal College building began in the 1830s and a second phase was completed in 1906 which made it the second largest granite building in the world.

Marischal College in Aberdeen


We also have a few inventors in our history. In 1823 the Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh (1766- 1843) patented the waterproof cloth he used to make raincoats, after experimenting with waste rubber products from Glasgow’s new gas works. He was anxious to protect the secret of his new waterproof cloth so he chose Highland workers to work in his Glasgow factory as they only spoke Gaelic. His novel Mackintoshes immediately proved to be a hit, though at first the rubbery substance became brittle and stiff in extremely cold weather, luckily this problem was resolved.

The Macintosh Coat


Not only that but Scotland is home to quite a few ‘firsts’!

  • In 1772 Scotland became the first country to make lefthand travel a national law, applying to all city traffic. Offenders were fined 20 shillings.
  • In 1794 Scottish engineer William Murdoch built the first-ever house to be lit by gas.
  • In 1862 St Andrews welcomed Britains first female student.

And we also have quite a few claims to fame when it comes to sport:

  • The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in Muirfield is the oldest organised golf club in the world. The club’s records date continuously back to 1744. Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio, was founded by golf champion Jack Nicklaus, and named after Muirfield, East Lothian.
  • The world’s first international rugby match was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh on 27 March 1871, with Scotland playing England and the world’s first international football match, again Scotland v England, took place on 30 November 1872 at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow.
  • The town of Sanquhar has the world’s oldest curling society, formed in 1774 with sixty members. And as an added bonus the post office at Sanquhar, established in 1712, claims to be the oldest working post office in the world.

We hope you enjoyed these fun facts about Scotland. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and we’ll keep hunting for more interesting facts to tempt you with.

All the best, K & D







Intercepted Post – we need your help!

Culloden Battlefield is a special place to many people.

It has been an inspiration for writers of fact and fiction for 270 years.
Inspiration can come from the individual stories of people who fought at the Battle of Culloden; those who were affected by the Uprising and the aftermath; to the stories of the visitors who come to the moor...

 As part of an upcoming event “An Epic Tale: The facts and fiction of life during the Rising” we would like you to send why Culloden is special, inspirational or thought provoking place to you.

Whether you have visited or would like to visit we would like to hear your story of why Culloden and the stories of the ’45 Uprising are important to you.

To be part of this event please send your stories on the back of a postcard to:

Learning Team @ Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre
Culloden Moor
Scotland, U.K

All the postcards sent in will be on display at the visitor centre from 1 July to the 31 July.

Thank you for your help and we look forward to reading your stories.

Scurvy, Vaccination and Hospitals

As this week saw the celebration of International Nurses day, on 12th May, this weeks blog takes a look at some medical history. During the 18th Century there were many innovations in medicine and many hospitals were founded. To start off with today we look at scurvy.

In 1747 a Scottish surgeon, James Lind, conducted one of the first controlled clinical trials in medical history on board the HMS Salisbury. Here he concluded that citrus juice was a more effective treatment for scurvy than five other standard treatments, from seawater to laxatives. While there was nothing new about Linds discovery – the benefits of lime juice had been known for centuries – Lind managed to establish the superiority of citrus fruits above all other remedies. Lind published his finding in 1753 in ‘A Treatise on the Scurvy’ but his evidence was largely ignored during his lifetime; indeed it was not until more than 40 years later that an official Admiralty order was issued on the supply of lemon juice to ships. With this, scurvy disappeared almost completely from the Royal Navy.

Citrus fruits perfect for treating Scurvy


Meanwhile in 1796 a man named Edward Jenner realised that milkmaids who caught cowpox were immune to smallpox and invented the modern form of vaccination, though no one really knew then exactly how the process worked. Patients were cut and then matter from a cowpox pustule was introduced and this allowed the patient to gain immunity to smallpox. Up until the introduction of vaccination the main way of combatting smallpox was inoculation. This involved provoking a mild form of the disease which would then provide lifelong immunity for the person.  Inoculation was likely practiced in Africa, India, and China long before the 18th century, when it was introduced to Europe. Jenner’s vaccination system however, was safer and more effective than inoculation and was made compulsory in 1893. This early form of vaccination eventually led to smallpox’s eradication in 1979 and thus smallpox is no longer part of the standard vaccinations we receive today.

Modern day Smallpox vaccine


As we said earlier there were also many hospitals founded during the 18th Century, included Guy’s hospital in 1724.Guy’s hospital was founded with a bequest from a merchant named Thomas Guy who had been successful on the Stock Market during the `South Sea Bubble’ Crash of 1720. Guy invested much of his new wealth into the hospital, which he began building in 1721. Unfortunately, three years later (at the age of 80), Thomas Guy died before the first patients were admitted. Guy’s Hospital eventually opened in 1726 with 100 beds and a staff of 51.

M0003348 Guy's Hospital, Southwark: an aerial view, with smaller scen
Guy’s Hospital

Also founded in the 18th Century was Middlesex hospital in 1745. Founded by twenty benefactors, it consisted of 15 beds in two houses, Nos. 8-10 Windmill Street. In 1747, it was the first hospital in England to provide ‘lying-in’ beds for pregnant women and a sign was placed at the end of the street stating ‘The Middlesex Hospital for Sick and Lame and Lying-In Married Women’. There were also hospitals founded in Bristol in 1733, York in 1740, Exeter in 1741 and Liverpool in 1745 making the 18th Century a very popular time for hospitals and medicine.

We hope you enjoyed this look into 18th Century medicine and as always please like, share, comment, tweet and we’ll keep hunting down more interesting stories to share with you.

All the best, K & D








The Mystery of Cluny’s Cage

There is a well known Jacobite legend of Cluny’s Cage where Ewen MacPherson of Cluny, Chief of Clan MacPherson, hid from the Government army for nine years after Culloden. But, how true is this marvellous story?

Ewen MacPherson of Cluny, Chief of Clan MacPherson, joined the Stewart army with about six hundred men but missed the fateful battle at Culloden as he had been sent to guard the passes in the Badenoch. After the defeat at Culloden Government men searched the highland for members of the Jacobite army and, as a high ranking man, Cluny was well known. Cluny’s house was burnt to the ground and all his possessions looted forcing him to scatter his men and seek shelter somewhere safe.

This much is fairly well known but from this point on it becomes trickier to separate fact from fiction. It is said that Cluny led a small party of men toward Loch Ericht in the Highlands and here he found refuge on the slopes of Ben Alder. Many believe this refuge was a small cave on Creag Dhubh, Ben Alder. Since this is such a widely held belief it seems fair to say that Cluny spent some time here, but is it Cluny’s Cage? Most, think not.

Loch Ericht


The Cage itself is more widely though to have been an artificial structure that Cluny built on the face of a rocky hill near Loch Ericht and was hidden by thickets of holly and moss to blend with the mountain. The structure was supposedly two stories high positioned far above the paths around the loch to watch for sentries below and, it is said, there was space to hide seven men if needed. It is also said Cluny was able to light a fire as the mountain above was the colour of smoke so any evidence dissipated over the hilltop and ensured his location remained a secret.

Prince Charles apparently stayed at the Cage for several nights whilst he was running from the Government before he made his escape over to the continent and this has led some to suggest that Cluny’s Cage is on the eastern side of Loch Ericht. Here there are huge slabs of rock, perfect for disguising the signs of smoke, and in a 1783 map by James Stobie there is a notation ”Place where C. S. hid himself 1746”, on the eastern side of Loch Ericht, near a spot called Creag na h-Iolaire, which is believed to refer to Cluny’s Cage.

Nowadays it is difficult to say precisely where the Cage was. Over the years any structure would surely have been lost to the elements so the exact position around Loch Ericht can still be argued over by some.

To remain hidden for so long Cluny was certainly both smart and lucky. One story tells of him hiding for a time at Dalchully House in a bolt hole in the East wing. Stepping outside one day he was caught by Colonel Munro, the very man charged with searching for him. However, since the two men had never met, Cluny calmly held the Colonel’s horse whilst the soldier went inside the house to search. It is claimed that he was given a penny for his trouble.

Eventually, after nine years in hiding, Cluny finally made his way over to France, apparently invited by Prince Charles himself. Here he managed to reunite with his wife and daughter before he died in Dunkirk in 1764.

We hope you enjoyed this foray into the history of Cluny and his mysterious Cage. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know if you have any different theories as to the legend of Cluny’s Cage.

All the best, K & D