The Might and Majesty of Glencoe

Glencoe is a beautiful part of Scotland that is rich, not just in landscape, but also history so today we thought we share a little bit about why we love the spot so much.

Firstly, the landscape. You cant help but love the drama and scale of Glencoe, even if you’ve lived in Scotland your whole life it is still a fantastic place to visit and drive through. A drive through the valley is always enjoyable not matter what the weather is. In the sunshine the hills look stunning and if you’re really lucky you can sometimes catch a glimpse of a golden eagle. Summer is also the perfect time to try some of its many walking routes as the site houses eight Munros. Don’t worry if it’s been raining though. When you get the clouds and the rain Glencoe transforms into an area of classic Scottish atmosphere and the waterfalls through the glens descend from the clouds in a fury.

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Glencoe on a beautiful day

 

The site is very popular with walkers as there are a number of routes and ascents to explore. One of the most popular routes is up the ridge of Aonach Eagach but it is not for the faint hearted. The route travels along a narrowing ridge so anyone with vertigo should certainly avoid it. You can also explore the peaks of the Three Sisters which encompasses the ridges of Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh and makes a lovely day of hilltop walking.

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Glencoe looking very atmospheric

 

For anyone who knows their Jacobite history, as we are sure many of you do, Glencoe is also the site for the infamous Glencoe Massacre. It was here in 1692 that members of the MacDonald clan were killed by soldiers of the Campbell clan for not pledging allegiance to William III. The attack was launched at dawn and at least 37 men were murdered in their homes with as many as 40 women and children dying from exposure after they were forced out of their homes. No one was ever brought to trial for the massacre and the site is remembered to this day as a brutal part of Scottish history.

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Memorial for the Glencoe massacre

 

Associated with the massacre is the point of Signal Rock. This spot is, according to legend, said to be the point at which a fire was started to signal the start of the massacre in 1692, however there is no proof of this being the case. The site is also said to have been an emergency meeting point for the MacDonald clan where they would gather in times of danger. Whether either of these are true is unsure but the rock is a beautiful spot to walk out to and would have been a good beacon point for the glen due to its visibility.

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Signal Rock at Glencoe

 

We hope you get the chance to visit Glencoe, if you haven’t already. It is such an amazing place and pictures just do not do it justice. As always we hope you enjoyed reading our post and please like, tweet, share, comment and tell us your favourite parts of Glencoe.

All the best, K & D

National Volunteers Week

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This year marks the 80th anniversary of the National Trust for Scotland conserving for the battlefield and this December the 10th anniversary of the current visitor centre opening its doors.

For many of the people who visit the site one of the resounding memories of visiting the exhibition is being able to handle the contents of a 18th century soldiers kit bag, explore the equipment of a doctors field surgery or have the opportunity to feel what it is like to hold a basket hilted broad sword.

The person running the handling box or speaking to the visitor is most likely a member of our volunteering team.

Between the 1- 7 June we are celebrating the National Volunteers’ Week and in this blog post we wanted to say thank you to the team and showcase some of the great work they do here. Our volunteers speak to thousands of people a week – Culloden visitor experience would not be the same without them!

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Volunteer John with our history workshops

 

Myths and Mysteries – how much do you really know about the 1745 Rising?

Did the bounty, placed on Prince Charles Edward Stuart after the battle of Culloden ever claimed after the battle of Culloden?

Were Jacobite broadswords guaranteed to loose against Government muskets? Did all the Highland clans side with the Jacobites?

During our shut down period over Christmas, a couple of our volunteers created the Myths and Mysteries quiz. Our volunteers ask the visitors 10 true or false questions about the Jacobite Rising, it is a great way for the visitors to interact with the history and test their knowledge!

This quiz was used to great success for when the Outlandish Gathering 2017 visited us at the end of May – on that occasion our volunteers researched a couple of additional questions specially for them.

  

Jacobite Pamphlet Project with Highlife Highland

A group of Culloden’s volunteers have recently been working on a joint project to catalogue the vast collection of Jacobite pamphlets at the Archive centre. The volunteers have begun cataloguing the collection – discovering a play about the battle, an alternative name for the battlefield and finding out more about the Earl of Kilmarnock.

 

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Musicians from NTS Folk

 

NTS Folk

 At Culloden, we have a group of volunteer musicians who rehearse here every month and play at events such as our annual community thank you day in November – you might even here them gig at other properties! Look out for them at Brodie Castle in August.

A massive thank you to all our volunteers and we hope you enjoyed reading about just some of the work and support they do for Culloden. As always please, share, comment, like, tweet and stop by to see our amazing team in action.

All the best, K & D

80 Years of Care

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the National Trust for Scotland caring for and conserving Culloden Battlefield.

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Culloden Battlefield

 

In 1937 Alexander Munro of Leanach Farm presented the first two small pieces of the battlefield to the reasonably new charity, the National Trust for Scotland. This small start was soon expanded and over the years we have acquired more of this historic site and worked hard to preserve the land and share its story with millions of visitors.

We are incredibly proud to be the custodians to such an important site in Scottish and world history. Today 80 years own, we care for the memorial cairn and clan graves on the battlefield; as well as the Cumberland stone, the ‘Field of the English’ and Kings Stables Cottage. We help protect a large portion of the southern part of the battlefield that encompasses the main area of hand-to-hand fighting, as well as the mass graves of the men who fought and died here in 1746.

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Clan Grave at Culloden

 

The task of caring and preserving such a special site is not an easy one and new challenges are constantly presenting themselves but they are challenges that everyone is determined to meet. We have a dedicated facilities team on site who monitor the land and work to try and restore the landscape to how it would have appeared at the time of the battle.

On site we also have our learning team who produce top class school programmes to deliver to children throughout Scotland and indeed the rest of the world. They share the stories of the battle and the significance of the events that took place here in ways that captivate the younger audience and spark interest in new generations every year.

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Culloden Moor

 

As the last battle fought on British soil and the battle that effectively ended the Jacobite campaigns in Scotland, Culloden is a part of our history and our culture and we hope to be here in another 80 years still sharing the stories of Culloden with people from around the world and caring for this incredibly important site.

We hope you get the chance to visit Culloden if you haven’t already. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and if you would like to join us in helping conserve this special place head to https://www.nts.org.uk/Donate/ to donate.

All the best, K & D

271 Years

Today, marks the 271st anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16th April 1746.

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Wreaths laid at the Memorial Cairn

 

This weekend we have been thrilled to see so many people coming to the battlefield to join us in our commemorations of this event and remember the events of 1746.

The Battle of Culloden is an important part of Scottish, British and indeed world history. In the space of less than an hour the final battle of the Jacobite Rising of ’45 was concluded with 1,500 Jacobite men and 50 Government men killed. Soon after the battle the Rising was over and Prince Charles Edward Stuart had fled, never to return to Scotland again. The impact of the day has had far reaching and long lasting effects that are still recognised to this day.

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The Procession out to the Memorial Cairn

 

The story of the Battle of Culloden resonates with so many different people from across the world and it is wonderful to see all these people coming together at this time of year to remember the past and the history that shaped so many lives. We are grateful that visitors from all corners of the world come to Culloden to trace their ancestry and visit Culloden to try and help gain a sense of life in Scotland in the 18th Century.

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Flags Flying for the Procession

 

This site is so special for all of us who work here and despite the weather being less than ideal this year (we like to say atmospheric) it was lovely to see so many coming along to attend the annual Commemoration Service with the Gaelic Society of Inverness. The sight of so many people forming a procession out to the memorial cairn is one of the highlights of the year, with flags waving, colourful tartan displayed and pipes playing, it is a wonderful way to remember the battle.

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Wreaths Laid to Remember the Battle

 

We wanted to thank everyone who attended, and also those who held their own ceremonies across the world, for being part of Culloden’s journey and helping us keep this incredible story alive.

The 16th April 1746 is a date that hopefully will not ever be forgotten and it is our privilege to share its story with visitors from around the globe. We hope you enjoy listening to the story and take this time to remember Culloden in your own special way.

All the best, K & D

Archaeology at Culloden

With 2017 being the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology we had to take a look into the archaeology here at Culloden. Something that many people may not know about Culloden is that it was one of the first battlefields in Scotland to be subject to archaeological investigation making it an intriguing subject.

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Culloden Battlefield

As part of the Culloden Battlefield Memorial Project, work first began at the site in 2000 and has included topographic, geophysical and metal detector surveys.

These surveys have allowed us to discover and learn more about the battle and what exactly happened on that fateful day in April 1746. The fact that objects and details discovered hundreds of year after an event can help inform our knowledge is a fantastic and intriguing subject.

Unsurprisingly, metal detector surveys managed to uncover a lot of items from the field including musket balls, mortar fragments, buckles and buttons many of which we have on display in our exhibition. The interesting aspect of these finds though was their location. When mapped all of these individual finds suggested the battle took place over a larger piece of land than originally anticipated.

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Mortar Fragments and Grape Shot

The intensity of finds also showed the majority of  hand-to-hand fighting took place further south than expected. The presence of broken musket pieces indicated the weapons were damaged by fire at close range or smashed off by a broadsword. The lost buttons and buckles most likely removed in struggles which offers an insight into the extreme battle conditions on the moor. These lost items open up a harrowing picture of Culloden and bring the battle into a harsh reality with objects you can truly connect with.

Close to the area of close quarter fighting were fragments of mortar bombs which would have been fired into the charging Jacobites to stop their dreaded attack. The power of these bombs could take out up to twenty men at a time, making it remarkable the Jacobites made it to the Government front line at all. The position of the mortar fragments, so close to the Government front line, also opens up the possibility that Government men could have been killed as the shells were rather unpredictable and broke apart as the powder inside ignited.

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Pewter Cross

As well as gathering information on the fighting and tactics of the armies surveys also helped uncover a couple of more personal items. A silver coin was found dating from 1752, after the battle. The coin is a silver thaler from the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin which was one of the German Baltic states. The presence of the coin suggests the possibility that it was dropped by a soldier who had served time in the continent. They could even have been based at Fort George and travelled to the battlefield to visit the graves of some of their fallen comrades. Also found was a small pewter cross. This discovery near Leanach Cottage is a beautiful pendant and you cant help but wonder who it belonged to and the story behind it. Was it given to a soldier by a loved one? Was it kept close for luck? The stories that could lie behind the objects make them all the more special and important to preserve.

We are lucky to have found so many items that have opened up new theories of the battle of Culloden and raised new questions and thoughts about the men on the field. If you want to find out more be sure to come along to our exhibition to see the finds for yourself. As always we hope you enjoyed this brief insight into the archaeology of the site and please comment, like, share and tweet.

All the best, K & D

 

 

The MacGillivrays at Culloden

As you walk the battlefield here at Culloden you pass the memorial cairn and many clan graves, but you  also pass the ‘Well of the Dead’. This small spot on the battlefield stands at the point where the Chief of the MacGillivray clan supposedly fell during the battle and, as we are often asked about this spot, we thought we’d take this chance to look a little at the MacGillivray’s during the time of Culloden.

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Stone at the Well of the Dead

 

The MacGillivray’s were strong followers of the Jacobites and came out to support the cause in both the 1715 and the 1745 Risings. They are a part of Clan Chattan, which was essential an alliance between several clans including MacGillivray, Mackintosh and Macpherson. In 1745 Clan Chattan the majority of Clan Chattan followed Prince Charles Edward Stuart in his cause.

However, an interesting exception to this was the chief of Clan Mackintosh who was serving with the Black Watch in 1745 and thus was unable to raise his men for the Jacobites. Thus it was left to his wife, Lady Anne Mackintosh to raise Mackintosh’s for Prince Charles. She herself could not lead the men in battle and so she appointed Alexander MacGillivray of Dunmaglass, the chief of Clan MacGillivray to help lead the men of Clan Chattan at Culloden. MacGillivray was a strong choice as he was a respected leader and fearsome warrior, standing some 6ft 5in tall.

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Clach an Airm

 

Before the battle the stories say that Clan Chattan gathered to sharpen their swords at the Clach an Airm, an ancient stone which rested near the battlefield. Here the men queued in line to sharpen their blades on the four foot high stone, ensuring that their weapons were sharp and ready for the battle to come.

In battle it was MacGillivray who began the Highland Charge with Clan Chattan, making the first moves towards the Government men. The charge, lead by MacGillivray, was a ferocious effort to try and claim a Jacobite victory. MacGillivray led the clan against the Government cannons, grapeshot and musket fire and the Chattan clans were remarkably able to break through the first line of the Government army. They breached Barrells regiment but unfortunately could not make any further progress. The Government ranks from behind moved forward and surrounded the Jacobite soldiers with heavy musket fire and ultimately forced them to withdraw.

MacGillivray himself was gravely hurt in the attack but managed to stumble back a little way before he began to succumb to his wounds. There is a story that tells of MacGillivray as he lay dying. A young drummer boy was moaning for water and MacGillivray, in his last act, was able to lead him to a spring in the moor. The spring is now known as the ‘Well of the Dead’ and is said to mark the point where MacGillivray died.

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Well of the Dead at Culloden

 

After the battle MacGillivray was apparently buried in a mass grave with many other men who had fallen in combat. The graves were supposedly guarded by Government men for six weeks before the MacGillivray’s men were able to go and exhume his body. They then took him to the nearby kirk of Petty where he was given a proper burial.

As a consequence of joining the Jacobite cause the MacGillivray’s forfeited their lands for several years before they were able to regain them. Unfortunately bit by bit the lands had to be sold of to pay various debts. With life in Scotland proving tough many clansmen emigrated overseas to America and Canada. Included in these men was a Lachlan MacGillivray whose son, Alexander, would go on to become High Chief of the Creek Indians in Alabame and William MacGillivray who would become the superintendent of the North West Trading Company of Montreal and after whom Fort William in Ontario is named.

So, there you go, a bit more information about just some of the many men who fought here at Culloden. We hope you enjoyed it, as always please like, share, tweet, comment and next time you walk past the Well of Dead you’ll know the story behind it’s importance.

All the best, K & D

 

Ready for a new adventure?

The National Trust for Scotland is lucky enough to have thousands of people volunteering with us to help conserve properties, artefacts and landscapes in our care and help provide fantastic experiences to all our visitors.

However, you may not be aware just how many ways you can volunteer with the Trust. So, if you’re looking for something new to try this year why not take a look at how you can support the National Trust for Scotland.

Firstly, check out the Thistle Camps. These are essentially working holidays. The National Trust for Scotland recently launched its new list of Thistle Camps for 2017 and they are a great opportunity to volunteer, gain skills and have a bit of a fun whilst discovering somewhere new at the same time. There are lots to choose from and you can help with archaeology projects, discover drystane dyking techniques, spend some time kayaking or help create and maintain footpaths on some of Scotland’s most beautiful mountains. (The evenings off aren’t too bad either!) The camps are fantastic fun and very popular so be sure to get in quick to grab your top choice as they fill up fast. Thistle Camps

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Drystane Dyking in Threave

 

If you love the outdoors then definitely consider becoming a Conservation Volunteer. Here you can help the Trust by joining various projects across the country. This could be helping in the garden of a castle, building footpaths on a gorgeous mountain, or contributing to woodland management. You get to experience the wonderful countryside we help protect across the country, meet new people and fit in some exercise. Not only that but there are also training opportunities and lectures which you can attend to learn more skills and build on your knowledge of our wild and beautiful landscapes. The only thing we can’t guarantee is the weather, it is Scotland after all. Conservation Volunteers

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Footpaths Repaired by Conservation Volunteers

 

Probably our best known volunteers are our property volunteers. If you want to help a property then we are always happy to hear from you. Here at Culloden you can join our learning team sharing the knowledge of the battle to people from across the globe and running object handling sessions. If castles tempt you you can become a room or tour guide at many of our properties and our gardens are always looking for those with green fingers to come along. Many of us starting life as a volunteer, including myself as a tour guide at Brodie Castle. It’s easy to fall in love with a property as you discover all its secrets and it is incredible to be able to then share these stories with visitors and make their visit to Scotland even more special. Volunteering

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Volunteer Demonstrations at Culloden

 

With over 3,000 amazing and supportive volunteers we have a brilliant volunteering community throughout Scotland. If you want to join us and help support the National Trust for Scotland, what are you waiting for? Check out the links above, stop by your nearest property and get started on a new adventure. Volunteer with us

All the best, K & D