A Year in Pictures

With 2016 drawing to a close we thought we’d take a look back at all the fun we’ve had this year, with a year in the life of Culloden.

Things started off pretty crazy at Culloden with a total shop refit in January. In the space of three weeks we had the entire space gutted and rebuilt. The best parts for us was firstly getting to help tear the old shop apart. We certainly impressed some of the guys with our ability to rip up floor tiles! And obviously the finished result which looked amazing.

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From an empty shell to a stylish shop

 

To get the year started with a smile we had great fun running kelpies and selkies workshops. Here we got to share some of the great folk tales that Scotland has, as well as getting to have a bit of a play with some arts and crafts.

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Some happy Kelpies at Culloden

 

We also had some snow in February which made the battlefield look gorgeous. No snow yet this winter but we’ll have to wait and see what the new year brings.

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Our gorgeous snow covered battlefield

 

Big excitement in March when we welcomed two new members to the Culloden team, our new ponies, Rosie and Glen. These two fitted in straight away and have busy working hard all year helping our facilities team to maintain the battlefield and prevent the spread of invasive plant species.

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Glen (all white) and Rosie (black with white stripe) our stunning ponies

 

By April we hit the Anniversary and this year it was big one as it marked 270 years since the battle. We hosted the annual commemoration service and had lots of guest lecturers delivering a whole programme of talks about the Jacobites, the battlefield and its archaeology.

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Marking 270 years since the Battle of Culloden

 

In summer things were non-stop. With coaches, cruise ships, visitors from all across the world it was certainly a busy season. We hosted our annual walk in the gloaming which saw its best attendance yet and is fast become a favourite annual event.

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Atmospheric Walk Through the Gloaming

 

And of course, we managed to keep the visitors happy with our volunteers working hard to deliver insightful presentations and run our living history workshops.

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An example of one of our workshops

 

We also managed to take time out to head down to Glenfinnan which reopened the doors to the famous monument after some wonderful restoration work on the tower itself and the beautiful plaques that surround it.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

By October we were pleased to welcome Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland back for the annual Culloden Run which saw almost 500 runners taking part and raising money for this fantastic cause.

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Annual Culloden Run

 

Things didn’t slow down with our Community Thank You Day in November offering tours, presentations, dancing and singing for everyone to enjoy. And so that brings us to December where we’ve all been getting into the Christmas spirit and enjoying the last few weeks before we start the whole cycle again!

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Discovering the Doctor’s Surgery

 

We’d love to see you come along and join the excitement and history at Culloden next year. As always please like, comment, tweet and keep your eye on the Culloden website to keep up to date with all the events coming up next year.

All the best, K & D

 

 

A Jacobite Tale

The Outlander Series of books is not the only time Jacobite history has appeared in works of fiction. In fact, the Jacobites and their complex history have intrigued writers for centuries.

Firstly, we step back to 1814 and Sir Walter Scott with this historical novel ‘Waverley’. This was Scott’s first venture into prose fiction and was originally published anonymously, although it is said almost every reviewer guessed it was his work and many readers recognised his hand. The novel is set during the ’45 rising and follows the story of one Edward Waverley, a young English soldier, as he is sent to Scotland and into the heart of the rebellion. When it was first published it was an astonishing success with the first edition of 1,000 copies selling out within two days. Critics widely praised Scott’s work and it became so popular that his later novels were advertised as being by the author of ‘Waverley’.

From Scott to Stevenson. Written as a ‘boys novel’ Robert Louis Stevensons story ‘Kidnapped’ was first published in the magazine ‘Young Folks’ in 1886 before becoming a novel. The story follows the adventures of David Balfour following the ’45 Rising and includes the ‘Appin Murder’ of 1752 in Ballachulish. Though many of the characters were real people the novel is not historically accurate. The book sold well whilst Stevenson was alive and he followed it up with a sequel ‘Catriona’ but the themes were more romantic than adventurous and it did not reach the same level of fame as ‘Kidnapped’.

Also on the list of Jacobite fiction authors is John Buchan, perhaps best known for the book ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’. In 1923 he published ‘Midwinter’ which is set during the ’45 and tells the tale of Alastair Maclean, confidant of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who embarks on a secret mission to raise support for the Jacobite cause in the West of England.

Historical fiction was not just tackled by men. In 1925 the first book of ‘The Jacobite Trilogy ‘ was produced by Dorothy Kathleen Broster, better known as D.K. Broster. Featuring the dashing hero Ewen Cameron the trilogy consists of ‘The Flight of the Heron’, ‘The Gleam in the North’ and ‘The Dark Mile’.  The books follow Ewen a small landowner and close relative of the chief of the Clan Cameron across the ’45 Rising and the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has been the latest big success showing the interest in historical fiction remains and the Jacobite period has plenty to offer in the way of adventure and, in Outlander’s case, romance. Following the main characters of Jamie and Claire through Jacobite history and beyond, the books have now been made into a TV series filmed in Scotland showcasing the dramatic scenery of the country and encouraging many people to see Scotland for themselves.

Recently we have also seen ‘Gathering Storm’ by Maggie Craig published in 2013. The book is set in Edinburgh in 1743 where Jacobite support is growing, causing new tensions in the city. The story could be classed as an historical romance but is full of plenty of crime, politics and intrigue to keep everyone happy. Craig is probably best known for her books ‘Bare Arsed Bandetti’ and ‘Damn Rebel Bitches’ which look at the stories of the men and women of the ’45 Rising and should definitely be checked out.

We hope you enjoyed this dabble into Jacobite fiction and, of course, all these books are on sale in our shop at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Also, this month we have a series of talks looking into the world of the Jacobites in fiction including talks from Maggie Craig and Diana Gabaldon. For details on these check out our Events page. http://www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Visit/Events/

As always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know your favourite historical fiction books.

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.

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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.

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Borage

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.

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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.

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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.

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Bugle

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

How to wear a plaid

The plaid has to be the characteristic dress of the Highlander in the 18th Century but making it look good requires a bit of skill. Trust me I have tried it and there’s definitely an art to it that I do not have.

Before we begin though it’s important to say what a plaid actually is. The term plaid comes from the Gaelic ‘plaide’ which means blanket (pronounced ‘platchuh’) and in its simplest terms it is a piece of tartan roughly 5 metres (18 feet) long and about 5 foot wide. This was then pleated and styled into the plaid. The cloth was so large that looms of the day were not wide enough to make it in one go so two pieces of material were actually sewn together along the long edge to make the plaid.

To begin the centre of the plaid was pleated. Roughly two thirds of the plaid was folded into pleats reducing the length to about five feet. This was then gathered around the man with the bottom edge falling at the knees. The top half would then be rearranged, typically drawn up to the left shoulder  and fastened with a brooch leaving the right arm free.  Extra material would be tucked in at the waist to create pockets.

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Our volunteer John showing the plaid

The plaid could also be used in poor weather to cover the shoulders and arms from the cold and there are some who believe in cold weather men would actually dip their plaid in water as wetting it would allow the wool to swell offering better protection against the wind and cold. In sub-zero temperatures this could also create a layer of thin ice on the surface of the plaid which would further insulate the owner.

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Wrapped over the shoulders for warmth

In times of battle many men would take off the weighty plaid and charge naked from the waist down towards their enemies. (Thankfully i don’t have a picture of this to terrify you with)

In most places you’ll find it noted that plaids were made up first by lying out and pleating the fabric and then the Highlander would lay down on top of the pleats and wrap the fabric around himself securing at the waist. However, with up to 21 feet of material this was likely to be unmanageable for all but the wealthy as there would be no room inside for such masses of fabric and laying it out in the wind and rain seems rather impractical. Quite possibly many people may have had the plaid already pleated and ready to secure so would simply have to take it off its hook and secure it to them via a belt of rope therby eliminating the need for a large room to prepare.

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A look at the pleats on the back

The traditional plaid was banned in 1747 following the Battle of Culloden when it was ruled that anyone wearing the plaid, trews or tartans should be imprisoned for six months for their first offense and transported for seven years if they were caught again.

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One final shot of John

Hopefully you’ve found this interesting and i hope you are all about to go and grab a blanket and give it a shot.

As always like, follow, reblog, share, tweet, comment and be sure to strut around your house with pride whilst wearing your new plaid. All the best K & D