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

It’s Just a Field, isn’t it?

Here at Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre we get visitors from around the world; some will know the history inside out whilst others will be taking their first steps into Scottish history. It’s safe to say that we also get people who are more keen to explore the site than others and this was certainly pointed out when we had one gentleman ask the question ‘It’s just a field, isn’t it?’

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Culloden Moor

Now technically I suppose you could answer yes, it is called a battlefield. And if you don’t know the history that may be all you first see but we’d like to think Culloden Battlefield is much more than ‘just a field’.

First and foremost Culloden Battlefield is a war grave. It is important to remember that in 1746 some 1,500 Jacobites and 50 Government soldiers not only died here at Culloden but were also buried here. Today the site cares for the mass graves that can be found on the moor and the memorial cairn and clan graves that have been in place since the 1880’s. Having the graves on the site of battle is rare and in the past we have been asked why we have not done excavations and archaeology work on the battlefield. The simple answer is we do not want to do invasive work on the graves and as war graves we believe they should be left untouched for people to pay their respects.

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The Memorial Cairn at Culloden Battlefield

 

Secondly, we have to consider the history of the site which surely marks the place as more important than ‘just a field’. This was the site of the last battle in the last of the Jacobite Uprisings. It was at this site that Prince Charles Edward Stuart and William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, faced off for the last time and Prince Charles was finally defeated in his attempt to reclaim the throne. The battle of Culloden ended some 60 years of fighting over the Scottish, English and British thrones and is an iconic moment in British history. By conserving and protecting the land we can do our bit to help keep this important place in history alive.

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Culloden Battlefield

 

Culloden is also closely connected with the Highland Clan system. Whilst Culloden was not the cause for its demise it certainly can be said to have accelerated the process. Following Culloden came the pacification of the Highlands and eventually the Highland Clearances. Whilst this was a terrible time for the Highlands and its culture it did mean that we had mass emigration leading to Scottish ancestry being spread throughout the world. Now we receive visitors from all corners of the globe who come to try and trace their roots and discover more about their Scottish heritage. Culloden is a place where they can come and learn more about their clan and even their relatives who may have been transported following the battle. Culloden opens up the door to world history in a very special way.

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Clan Graves at Sunset

So, is Culloden ‘just a field’, our answer is no. The site is an emotional place that captures a moment in history and brings together people from around the world as they learn more about their past, pay their respects to those who fell and discover the stories that brought us to where we are today. It is not just a field; it is a place of remembrance, education, connection, discovery, passion, history, rest, conservation and a place of a myriad of emotions.

We hope you enjoyed this post and as always please like, tweet, comment and share your experiences of Culloden Battlefield. If you would like to help support the work we do here at Culloden you can make a donation to the site here.

All the best, K & D

 

Leanach Cottage

Situated on the grounds of Culloden Battlefield lies Leanach cottage. This beautiful thatched cottage attracts many visitors throughout the year and is a lovely memory of the history of the battlefield. Today, we thought we’d share a little more about the cottage and why it is so special to all of us here at Culloden.

Leanach is one of the last survivors of a once common local structure type of a single storey thatched building. Today the building stands as an isolated structure but in the past this area was well populated and the land divided into smallholdings.  Historical maps show a number of farmsteads in the close vicinity with small pockets of individually cultivated land, however, Leanach is now one of the only surviving examples of this landscape.

The cottage itself was likely constructed in the early 18th century, probably as part of wider improvements on Culloden estate and originally would have been a T-shaped structure. In the 17th and 18th century estate owners provided their tenants with the wood for their roof crucks whilst the tenant was responsible for the construction of the walls of their houses.The walls were often made from local stone and/or turf at the gable ends.

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Leanach Cottage in the 1940’s

During the Battle of Culloden Leanach Cottage was situated in between the Government lines and it is likely the building would have been used as a field hospital for the government men.

Following Culloden there were several periods of occupation, sometimes intermittent and the shape of the building appears to have been altered by the demolition of the western end of the structure in the mid-late 1860s, leaving an L-plan structure which can still be seen today. The building then appears to have been abandoned again shortly after this and fell into a ruinous state (late 1860s-1880s). The cottage was then rebuilt and reoccupied in the early 1880s, possibly as part of Duncan Forbes’ work to memorialise the Battle of Culloden during which time he also built the memorial cairn and erected grave stones on the clan graves.

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Belle MacDonald outside Leanach Cottage

The last occupant of Leanach Cottage was Belle MacDonald who lived here until she died in 1912. Her family apparently gave tours of the battlefield to interested visitors as the Victorian railway brought tourists into the highlands. In 1924 the Gaelic Society of Inverness and Thomas Munro Architects set out to repair and conserve the building and the original steeply pitched roof was replaced with a shallower one.

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Leanach Cottage

The National Trust for Scotland was gifted Leanach Cottage in 1944 by Hector Forbes, the local land owner, and it became the original visitor centre in 1961. Quite different from the centre we have today it had a few simple panels to allow people to experience the story of the battle. Minor alterations continued until 1978 when the NTS removed the old 1920’s roof and replaced it back to a steeply pitched roof more in line with the original crucks which were still visible in the western wall.

With the opening of the new visitor centres Leanach has been able to retain its charm and beauty and we hope to be able to open the cottage once again next year so visitors can see inside this lovely piece of history.

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Leanach Cottage in the snow

In terms of conservation of the thatch and the turf wall, it is easy to see why the Trust needs the support of its Members to keep such buildings from falling into disrepair. Now, we don’t usually play the charity card but this time we are so please forgive us. If you would like to help protect Leanach Cottage you can go to https://www.nts.org.uk/Donation/Appeal/Once/Give-to-your-favourite-National-Trust-for-Scotland-place/ or you can text ROOF75£5 to 70070 to donate £5. Thank you.

Hope you enjoyed the post. As always please like, follow, share, tweet, comment and keep coming back for more!

All the best, K & D