Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden

Today we’re taking a look at the life of Duncan Forbes.

Born in 1685 near Inverness his early life does not hold much tales. When he was old enough he began his university education in Edinburgh studying law before moving across to the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He returned to Scotland in 1707 and not long after his return married the daughter of Hugh Rose, the 12th Baron of Kilravock.

Forbes’ work in law eventually became quite well known and after the Act of Union in 1707 he is credited with working hard to stabilise the Scottish legal system. Though Forbes was born near Culloden it would be wrong to assume he was a Jacobite. In fact, during the 1715 Rising, he was loyal to the Government and he and his brother, John raised forces for the government side.

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Portrait of Duncan Forbes

Together Forbes and his brother joined with Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat and were part of the Government men who forced the Jacobites to surrender Inverness back into Government hands on 12th November 1715. Following this, and his work in supporting the Government, Forbes was offered the position of depute-advocate. However, he was not keen to take this office as he was not happy with the methods that were being used to prosecute the Jacobite ‘rebels’ from the 1715 Rising.

The Government suspended the law that stated trials should take place in the countries in which the treasonable actions had taken place. This meant that many Jacobites were facing trial in Carlisle rather than in Scotland and Duncan saw this as unfair. Apparently, he was so shocked by this treatment that he wrote to Sir Robert Walpole, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to protest the actions and even collected money to help support the Jacobite prisoners at Carlisle.

Between 1715 and the next major Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, Forbes became Lord Advocate and was appointed to the post of President of the Court of Session in 1737, the most senior judge in Scotland. Unfortunately, his family life was not as successful as his career. His wife died early in life, the exact date is not known but it is believed to have been before 1717. Then, in 1735 his older brother John died and Forbes became heir to the family estates at Culloden, including Culloden House.

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Engraving of Duncan Forbes

When 1745 arrived and another Jacobite Rising was beginning to form Forbes sent out letters to many of the highland leaders. In particular he wrote to Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat who he had joined forces with in 1715, to try and convince him to stay away from Prince Charles and his Jacobite cause. By August Forbes had based himself at Culloden House where he spent six months in a crucial role organising Government support in the North East and setting up independent companies and disrupting Jacobite recruitment.

Forbes’ actions helped warn Sir John Cope, the Commander-in-Chief in Scotland of an ambush awaiting him and his men at Fort Augustus. This helped Cope reach Inverness safely but also allowed the Jacobites to move south without encountering the Government men. Duncan Forbes became such an apparent threat to the Jacobites that it is said Prince Charles himself issued a warrant for his arrest.

In October 1745 Forbes managed to hold off an attempted raid on Culloden House. Around 150-200 rebels surrounded the property and crept towards the building walls. As they approached though they were spotted by an alert sentry and greeted with a rally of gunfire. A small paterero, or swivel gun, was also fired from a balcony and at that point the rebels fled leaving behind a dead man but consoling themselves by running off all the sheep and cattle they could find. The next morning a search of the nearby woodland turned up another casualty who confessed the men had been commanded by James Fraser of Foyers and they had been sent by the supposedly neutral Lord Lovat.

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Gravestone of Duncan Forbes at Greyfriars Kirkyard

Forbes later joined forces with nearby Lord Loudon and managed to raise a force of some two thousand men. When the Jacobites retreated north in 1746 Forbes and Loudon ultimately ended up retreating and heading out towards Skye which is where they most likely heard news of the Battle of Culloden.

Culloden House was used by Prince Charles to house the most senior officers during Culloden but following his defeat he fled and his Jacobite supporters were then rounded up. Despite his support to the Government and the actions against him by some Jacobites Forbes still spoke out against the brutal methods of the Duke of Cumberland. Many believed he had gone soft and his rebuke of the Govenrment actions apparently lost him a certain amount of influence.

Eighteen months after Culloden Forbes died. Some said he fell ill from a broken heart, with the suffering that he saw across Scotland causing him great distress. He died on 10th December 1747 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. His grave is marked by a stone slab added in the 1930s by the Saltire Society.

We hope you enjoyed the insight into Duncan Forbes. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and you can still see Culloden House and even stay in it as it is now a lovely hotel.

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

 

Culloden – a global war

The Battle of Culloden is largely seen as a British, and Scottish affair, with the fall of the Jacobites accelerating the demise of the Highlands, but Culloden can be viewed on a much larger scale and it is fascinating to see how the ’45 Rising and the Battle of Culloden affected events across the world.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

In the build up to the ’45, the Battle of Fontenoy can be considered a part of its history. Here an army of British, Dutch, Hanoverian and Austrian regiments were defeated by the French. The commander of the allied army was none other than the Duke of Cumberland and his failure at Fontenoy could well have contributed to Prince Charles’ timing with his decision to sail to Scotland in 1745. Not only that, but with an embarrassing defeat behind him, it has to be questioned whether this spurred the Duke of Cumberland on to defeat the Jacobites so he could then return to the Continent and stop the French after Fontenoy denied this.

In the month before Prince Charles Edward Stuart arrived in Scotland to begin the ’45 Rising, Royal Navy ships were across the Atlantic seizing the French fortress of Louisbourg which protected the Gulf of St Lawrence. This defeat left the French at a crucial decision. Should they send reinforcements to try and retake Louisbourg or should they support the Jacobites in their attempt to take Britain? Initially they supported Charles, but following his apparent failure to secure Scotland and his retreat at Derby, France soon turned their attention back west and by spring 1746 there were 11,000 troops being sent, not to Scotland, but across the Atlantic as they fought to hold the French empire together.

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After Culloden those that were fortunate to survive then faced uncertain prospects and Highland regiments were soon used in the French-Indian Seven Years War, as well as the American Revolution. In 1756 Simon Fraser of Lovat, the son of the executed Lord Lovat, raised a Highland regiment that served with distinction in Canada and slowly the men who had been brought up and fought with the Jacobites found new lives.

During the American Revolution Jacobites, including those raised by Simon Fraser, the Macphersons of Cluny and the Mackenzies of Cromartie fought with Britian in its unsuccessful attempt to keep hold of North America. After the British were defeated many soldiers fled north seeking refuge in Canada. One group of Scots formed the Glengarry settlement, in what is now Ontario, and this attracted immigrants from the Highlands for years. Indeed by 1832 it is said roughly 8,500 people were living in the settlement.

Finally, we cannot forget about the many prisoners who were transported overseas. Between 1718 and 1776 it is estimate that some 50,000 men and women were sent across to Virginia and Maryland in America. With the end of the American War of Independence Britain then turned to Australia and began sending its convicts there. Between 1787 and 1868 some 150,000 convicts were sent to Australia. Some of these prisoners/convicts could well have been Jacobites or at least affected by the events of the Jacobite Risings. These convicts were joined by many people seeking a new life away from the Highland Clearances and turmoil of Scotland. In fact three of the first six governors of New South Wales were Scots, including Lachlan Macquarie, sometimes called the ‘father of Australia’.

The Jacobite history and its aftermath has led to Scottish ancestry being taken across the world. Not all of the stories and events surrounding the Jacobites may be happy or pleasant but, what is wonderful now, is that we get to welcome visitors from across the globe to come to Culloden and discover more about their ancestors from Scotland, of the events that shaped Britain and of the men who took part in history across the world.

This is just a brief look at some of the ways Culloden acted as so much more than just one battle and there are many more stories that begin in Scotland and travel far and wide. We hope you enjoyed these and as always please like, tweet, share, comment and share your own stories with us.

All the best, K & D

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

 

 

FAQ’s

We get many questions asked here at Culloden so to help clear a few things up here are our most common queries.

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Culloden Memorial Cairn

 

 Where does the name Jacobite come from?

We talk about the Jacobites a lot but don’t mention the origin of the name that much. The term actually comes from the Latin for the name James which is Jacobus. James VII & II was deposed as King and it was after this that the first Risings began. So the Jacobites were essentially the followers of King James VII & II and subsequently his son and grandson.

 So, the English won?

No! We get a lot of visitors who believe that the battle of Culloden was Scotland vs. England but this just is not true. There were Scots on both sides and English on both sides. The Jacobites had a whole regiment raised in Manchester and the Government army had Scottish clans fighting with them. And, this doesn’t even consider the number of French, Irish and Dutch fighting. Culloden was a civil war which pitched members of the same family against each other so was not a simple matter. For more check out our other blog ‘It’s not Scotland vs England’

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Jacobite flag on Culloden Battlefield

 

Why did they fight at Culloden? 

This question is for the Jacobites. They were famous for their tactic of the highlands charge and yet at Culloden they were lined up on a boggy field which served to slow them down. The answer is debated to this day. After a long march the night before the Jacobites were scattered as they searched for food or tried to sleep but the Government were soon upon them. Some argued they should position themselves nearer the river Nairn where they could use their charge with more effect. Some felt the boggy moor would hinder the government horse and artillery. Ultimately on the day of the battle no council of war was held to decide the best spot. This may have been because Prince Charles feared his men would argue for a tactical retreat. Thus, on the day of battle it was Prince Charles who ordered his men to form a line across Drummossie Moor to meet the Government men.

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One of the gravestone on the battlefield

 

How many men fought on each side and how many died?

Again a little tricky as there is some debate about the exact numbers in each army. The Jacobites had roughly 5,500 men whilst the Government had around 7,500. As to those who died, the Jacobites lost approximately 1,500 men in the short battle. Official Government records give their losses at just 50 men although the accuracy of this number is questioned. Certainly hundreds would have been injured and many would have later died from their wounds. The figure of 50 may also have been lowered to make their victory seem greater.

These are probably the most popular questions we get here at the battlefield, apart from ‘Where are the toilets?’ and hopefully you enjoyed discovering the answers. As always please like, share, tweet, and let us know if you have any questions you’d like us to try and answer.

All the best, K & D