Stirling and the Jacobites

A short while ago we wrote a blog post detailing some notable Jacobite events that took place in the city of Edinburgh; today we thought we would continue in the same vein with a post about Stirling (and some surrounding areas) and its Jacobite history.

The deposed James VII of Scotland and II of England and Ireland died in 1701. Since his deposition in 1688, which had been made official in 1689, the Jacobites had been attempting without success to get him restored to the throne. His son James Francis Edward Stuart succeeded him to the Jacobite claim.

In 1707 the Acts of Union merged the Scottish and English Parliaments, and Stirling Castle became one of the four Scottish fortresses to be permanently garrisoned by troops of the new British army. During the Jacobite Rising of 1715, an attempt was made by the Jacobites to take control of Stirling Castle.

The Jacobite Rising of 1715 is commonly referred to as The Fifteen, but also sometimes as Lord Mar’s Revolt. John Erskine, Earl of Mar, had been involved in the developments that led to the Acts of Union. By 1714 his opinion on the matter had changed; this, combined with a public snub from the new King, Hanoverian George I, led him to raise the Stuart standard and declare for James Francis Edward Stuart at Braemar in September 1715.

Mar managed to gather more than 10,000 men to the cause, and he and the army travelled around Scotland in a bid to gain control. An attempt to occupy Edinburgh Castle was unsuccessful, but he managed to gain control of most of northern Scotland by November. Stirling Castle remained the most northerly garrisoned castle, and so the Earl of Mar and the (around 8000) troops marched towards Stirling with the intention of taking it.

A small Government army (around 3000), headed by the Duke of Argyll, was waiting and intercepted them at Sherrifmuir, near Dunblane (around five miles from Stirling), and the two armies fought. The result of the Battle of Sherrifmuir was considered inconclusive; the Government army did lose more men, but the Jacobite army needed an outright victory to go on and take Stirling Castle. Around the same time, Inverness was captured by Government soldiers, and Jacobites surrendered at the Battle of Preston.

This combination of events so close to one another pretty much ended the Jacobite Rising of 1715. It carried on for a few months longer, but by the time James Francis Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland, the momentum had been lost, and he soon returned to France.

As time passed, James Francis Edward Stuart became known to some as The Old Pretender, and in 1745 his son Charles Edward Stuart travelled to Scotland to rally support and fight on behalf of his father. After spending time in Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Jacobites had marched to England expecting new recruits. The trip was disappointing, and Charles and his army returned to Scotland.

At the beginning of 1746, having failed to occupy Edinburgh Castle a few months earlier, the Jacobites decided to besiege Stirling Castle, which was under the control of Major General Blakeney. To assist Blakeney, Lieutenant General Henry Hawley brought 7000 men to fight the Jacobites. The two armies fought at Falkirk Muir, and the Jacobites were victorious.

As the Government army had suffered a loss at Prestonpans under Sir John Cope, an immediate result of the attempt to besiege Stirling Castle and the Battle it resulted in was the arrival of the Duke of Cumberland to take charge of the Government troops.

The Jacobites ultimately abandoned their siege of Stirling Castle. They instead decided to go north to their Highland lodgings and renew the campaign in the spring.

We hope you enjoyed this post, as always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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Exploring Culloden : The Weapons

As you walk through the exhibition at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre it is perhaps unsurprising that there are number of weapons on display. It may be easy to pass some of them by but each piece holds its own unique story and so we’ve pulled some of the best together to whet your appetite.

One of the first weapons you come across is the Brodie Sword, a magnificent 18th Century broadsword with intricate hilt and gleaming steel blade. First impressions may lead to you think that it would have been part of the battle but this sword was far too nice for anything as messy as battle. The sword is in fact one of a pair that were made for Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his brother, Henry. The exquisite nature of the sword is such that it would have been used as an ornament rather than a weapon, perhaps part of the reason why it still looks so good today.

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Hilt of the Brodie Sword

 

Rounding the corner and you quickly see the difference between an ornament and a real weapon as you experience those weapons used in combat. Standing proud is a large targe which would have been used by the Jacobite army as a shield. The dark leather outer layer hides within it the marks of musket balls that penetrated the outer skin piercing through to the wooden centre of the targe. These small details make the artefact come alive with history and stories of the past as you try to imagine the terror of being in the midst of battle with guns firing down upon you.

In the battle exploration zone large glass cabinets display the power of the two armies as weapons face each other across the display space. Alongside the muskets and swords sits a rather unique weapon, the blunderbuss. Rather than the sleek long muskets this gun is short and stocky and is probably best described as an 18th Century shotgun. The wide barrel allowed multiple projectiles to be fired towards the enemy. Upon the barrel is an inscription ‘Taken at the Battle of Culloden 16th April 1746 by Capt John Goodenough with 18 balls in it ‘ which adds yet more intrigue to this special piece.

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Typical Highland Targe

 

Every piece in our exhibition is special and has its own story. Just stopping for that moment to get up close and study the objects allows such a rich history to come forward and brings the story of Culloden alive for everyone who visits the site.

We hope you enjoyed this blog about Culloden. As always please comment, tweet, like, share and hopefully you will be able to come and see these weapons for yourself one day.

All the best, The Culloden Team

A Little Bit More Gaelic

In 2015, we wrote a blog post offering some facts about the Gaelic language. As it was such a big part of the Jacobite culture, there has been a lot of effort made to include it at the visitor centre, which encourages many questions about the language, including its history, prevalence at the time of the Battle of Culloden and vocabulary. Below is some more information about Scottish-Gaelic:

In the mid-18th century, Gaelic was by no means spoken by the majority of the Scottish population. Its decline is believed to have begun during the reign of Malcolm III of Scotland (1058-1093), who broke with tradition by giving his sons Anglo-Saxon names. Norman French became favoured by the royals and aristocrats, whereas speaking Ingles, later known as Scots, became increasingly common among those outside of the court. By the 1300s, Scots was the dominant language in both written law and literature.

The Bruce, a patriotic poem written in around 1375, was notably written in Scots, not Gaelic, which reflects the shift that had occurred. By 1755, approximately 23% of the Scottish population spoke Gaelic. Of the 23%, many of them lived in the Highlands and Islands; it had always held great importance to the clans, but repeated blows, such as the loss at Culloden, and the subsequent Highland Clearances, diminished its use more and more as the years passed.

Last autumn, Catriona, Culloden’s Head Education Guide, designed a resource pack for the schools that visit throughout the year. In it she included biographies, family trees, timelines and explanations of commonly used terms. She decided to write it as a dual-language booklet, so that the person can read it in English or turn to the back for the Gaelic. This has proved popular with those who have seen it, as there is the opportunity to attempt to read it in Gaelic, whilst knowing the meaning in English.

To end today’s post, here are some common Scottish surnames and their Gaelic meanings:

The prefix Mac- means son in Gaelic, so Macdonald means son of Donald and so on.

Duff is derived from the Gaelic dubh, which means dark.

Buchanan comes from a Scottish place name that means house of the canon.

Cameron means crooked nose (Gaelic: cam – crooked / sròn – nose).

Murray is derived from the Scottish region Moray and means seaboard settlement in Gaelic.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight into Scottish Gaelic. As always please share, tweet, like and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

Grave markers at Culloden

When people visit Culloden Battlefield most will inevitably head out across the moor and stand in front of the large memorial cairn in the centre of the field. Surrounding the cairn are most, but not all, of the grave markers on the field so it seems fitting to turn our attention to the history of these markers.

Old photo of the Clan Mackintosh marker

 

The markers on the battlefield were put in place in 1881, some 130 years after the battle. One of the main question we are asked regards the names on the stones, as many carry the names of one or more clans who fought at Culloden. We have had geophysical tests of the area completed and they show that the area around the cairn does indeed hold many mass graves but how the names on the gravestones were chosen is something of a mystery.

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Selection of gravestones at Culloden

 

Clansmen would not have been easy to distinguish from one another. There was no clan tartan back in 1746 so identifying a persons clan relied on smaller things that their cap badge or clan plant that men may have worn. After the battle it would have been incredibly difficult to accurately determine who was from which clan so it is believed that the markers on the field are symbolic of the major clans who fought at Culloden and who suffered significant losses.

As well as the marker by the cairn, there are a few others across the field. Further north are three stones that commemorate the MacDonald’s who fought on the far left of the Jacobite front line. Whilst they did not take part in the hand-to-hand combat that occurred further south they were instrumental in aiding the retreat of the Jacobite army. Each year at the anniversary of the battle the local MacDonald clan and supporters will march down to the stones after the main ceremony to lay a wreath for the men.

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Clan Donald Stone

 

Perhaps one of the most annoying and intriguing stones on the battlefield is that of the ‘Field of the English’. This stone lies behind the front line of the Government troops and supposedly marks the site of a grave of the Government men who died during the battle. However, there are two issues we have with the stone. Firstly, research has shown that there is no sign of a mass grave by the stone. The nearest lies some fifty yard to the West of the stone. Secondly, its inscription, ‘Field of the English’. As we know this is not accurate. The Government army was not an English Army, it was made of men from Scotland, Wales and England making it a British Army.

 

Despite some questions on the accuracy of the markers though there is no doubt to how special they are to the site. Many who visit take a moment as they walk past the stones to take in the incredible atmosphere of the battle and remember the history of the site.

We hope you enjoyed this short piece about the marker as always please like, share, comment and tweet.

All the best, The Culloden Team

Highland Women’s Clothing in the Mid-18th Century

Unlike that of their male contemporaries, in the mid-1700s women’s clothing in the Highlands did not differ much from what was being worn in the Lowlands, England or the rest of western Europe.

The distinctive arasaid (Gaelic: earrasaid or earasaid), a large piece of plain, striped or tartan fabric that covered the head and wrapped around the body, had been worn often at the beginning of the century; as the years passed, it gradually became less and less popular, until eventually it was mainly worn just by women of the Western Isles. The Royal Dress Act of 1746, which restricted the use of tartan, did not apply to women, and so tartan was sometimes included in a woman’s outfit, often as the print for a modesty cloth or scarf. The general items worn at the time are detailed below, but as is the case today, factors such as the woman’s wealth, age and occupation, as well as personal preference, varied things significantly.

Depiction of an arasaid

 

The first thing put on would have been a shift. A shift was a long white garment, which often doubled as a nightgown, and it was worn to separate the body from the clothes that were to be put on top; in an age when daily bathing was not common, this was considered necessary in order to preserve the other items of clothing. Next, the woman would have put on stays, a tight linen garment heavily reinforced with whalebone on the top, and structured with whalebone or cane at the bottom. Stays were worn to help obtain the fashionable hourglass shape, to provide a rigid structure over which the outer clothes could be arranged, and prevent curvature of the spine in cases of rickets and similar conditions.

Following this base, she would have worn a dress, which could be plain, striped or printed, or a petticoat, skirt and some sort of fitted sleeved garment on top, such as a day jacket, casaquin, bed gown or short gown (which reached mid-thigh). Rich women would also have had ball gowns and riding habits, and would have chosen costly imported fabrics and dyes for their clothes; those with more limited means used local plants for homemade dyes. Some examples are brambles, which were used for a burnt orange colour, braken for yellow, elderberries for blue and sundew for purple.

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Example of 18th Century pockets

 

Finally she might have worn an apron, depending on her rank and occupation, and pockets (cloth bags) which were connected with a string, tied around the waist under the petticoat or apron, and accessed through slits. Bits and pieces, such as money, thimbles and keys, would be kept in these pockets, hidden from view. A modesty cloth would have been tied about the neck, and, unless young and unmarried, a woman covered her head with a scarf or a cotton cap.

Shoes varied a lot from class to class. Women who did not need to work would have softer, flimsier shoes, purchased for how fashionable they were rather than their sturdiness; a working woman would have had plainer shoes, made of leather or wood, sometimes with a buckle of ties. Many woman had only one pair of shoes, and so apart from in winter, they were worn only at church in an effort to maintain them.

We hope you enjoyed this little insight in women’s fashion. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and if you visit Culloden you may see one of our volunteers dressed in outfits like those described.

All the best, The Culloden Team

War Atrocities and other Bedtime Stories: learning programmes at Culloden

Over the past few years our learning team have spoken at conferences about the realities of teaching at Culloden. Our talks are normally titled War Atrocities and other Bedtime Stories: Learning at Culloden.

Our learning team has seen over 80 000 people through their programming and events so far: 4,500 of those individuals were here on school trips.

Schools have visited us from all across the British Isles and even Europe and North America. We have had a great year and thought we would share some of the brilliant programming the learning team develops.

The Big Picture (upper primary)

This is our most popular programme with primary schools! Its a great day where the pupils find out about five people who were alive at the time of the Jacobite Rising.

The kids find out about five people and their experiences in the Jacobite Rising through sessions involving a team quiz and exploring objects. They also have the opportunity to head out on to the battlefield and look at the amazing items in the exhibition.

The feedback we get from pupils is great! Here some feedback we received from some P6 visitors:

It was very funny when I dressed up as Francis Townley an English man… I was in the middle and not poor and I was a Jacobite!”

I liked when we did the quiz. The best bit outside was when we all lined up and shoot BANG! next line BANG! next line BANG!!”

I really enjoyed the battlefield I learnt a lot. It was fun learning about the battle and prince Charlie and the sneck attack at night. unfortunate they lost each because it was dark, thy probably got about 4 or 5 hours sleep before the battle started at Culloden. Some girls watched the battle with a picnic! !

 

Bring on Burns (upper primary)

The kids arrive at 10:00 and spend a full school day exploring the battlefield and playing with Scots words until in the afternoon they create their very own poem.

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Pupils in the workshop bringing their poem to life!

Then the feicht began and the beautiful landscape became a stramash!

The guns were shot and the cannon was fired.

The brithers were lost to the grund.”

“About ta fecht, in a gruesome war,

Yin gaun taw steading for yin time more,

I’m laithe taw fecht but I know I must”

Interpreting Culloden (lower secondary school)

This is a great programme which let students get hands on with objects and start thinking about the bigger questions at the site.

Pupils get hands on with the objects thinking about what they are, why they would be on the battlefield and who might have used/owned them. They then head out onto the battlefield to think why objects are found on specific locations on the battlefield and the considerations of managing a site that is also the location of mass graves.

The idea of speaking to a group of teenagers and young people about mass graves, child soldiering and other consequences of conflict  sounds challenging and slightly scary – however this session is incredibly rewarding and can provoke interesting debate and conversations which continue back in the classroom.

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Some of the objects used in Interpreting Culloden (S1-3 workshop)

 

If you would like more information on our schools programme check out our website or email culloden@nts.org.uk

All the best, The Culloden Team

Memories from the Past Ten Years.

This month we celebrate ten years since the current visitor centre was opened at Culloden Battlefield. A lot has happened over that time and we asked some of our longest serving employees and volunteers to share their highlights.

One of the biggest highlights was getting the chance to meet the Queen. We were honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visit the site in 2009 and many of the staff and volunteers still remember the day she came.

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Plaque marking the visit of Her Majesty The Queen to Culloden

 

The new centre offered a chance to display more artefacts and expand the information we could share. We were able to include items found during archaeological work on the battlefield so that today people can see exactly where items were found and how they have helped us interpret the events of the battle.

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Pewter cross found at Culloden

 

We have seen many changes over the last ten years but our main goal has always been to protect the site and share its history with people from all over the world. It has been lovely to receive various awards over the years recognising the staff and volunteers dedication to the site. Most recently we had Peter, our volunteer, win the Hospitality Hero award at the HITA awards and it creates a real buzz when you come to work to know that what you are doing is appreciated.

 

Most importantly though the one thing that everyone mentioned was the joy at meeting different people. Whether it is the chance to speak Gaelic and share our history, to learn more about visitors connections with Culloden or more simply the teams we work with here on site. The one thing that seems to keep people coming back to work here is the people.

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Visitors exploring the exhibition

 

And finally a great story that shows that people are always the highlight of our days. One Spring day a young lady come up from one of the car dealerships in Inverness (she was new to her job) looking for Charlie Stewart as she was to pick him up. We did an announcement, looked around and could not find him. Then it dawned on the team it wasn’t just any Spring day it was April 1st, or April Fool’s day, and her colleagues were playing a trick on her. There was a postcard from the shop with Charles Edward Stuart on it so we gave it to her and wrote a message giving apologies for not being here to be picked up.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

 

Hopefully we will continue to protect and share Culloden’s incredible past for many years to come with amazing visitors from all over the world.

Hope you enjoyed our highlight as always please like, share, tweet and comment and book your visit to come and see us.

All the best, The Culloden Team