Who wasn’t at Culloden?

We get many people coming through the exhibition here at Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre asking where their clan was in the battle and sometimes the answer isn’t always what they expect.

Whilst many men from the Jacobite army were indeed at Culloden there were a couple of parties who didn’t make it to the field of battle on 16th April 1746.

Culloden Battlefield


Firstly, the Earl of Cromarties regiment. This regiment originally joined the Jacobite forces in Perth and consisted of men raised by George MacKenzie, 3rd Earl of Cromartie. There were many Mackenzies in the regiment as well as other clan names with MacLeod, Ross, Campbell and MacLean, just to name a few. Around 80 men had been raised from Cromarties own estates and many of the other men were recruited from the northern highland around Dingwall and Tain.

In early 1746 the regiment was ordered north to try and meet with a French ship in the Moray Firth and to try and help contain the Government regiment of Lord Loudon. The regiment was largely successful and took command of Dunrobin Castle as their base. However, the day before Culloden (15th April 1746) the regiment was returning to the castle when they were surprised by a Government force. Many of the men were killed and some 180 men were taken prisoner including the Earl of Cromartie and his son. Thus, the regiment would not be present at Culloden and many of the men would face a spell in prison followed by transportation.

Jacobite marker at Culloden


Another large regiment not present at the battle of Culloden was that of MacPherson of Cluny. This regiment was raised largely in Badenoch by Ewan Macpherson of Cluny and joined the Jacobites in Edinburgh in October 1745. The regiment was the last to leave Derby in the retreat and took a key role in the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746. On the day of Culloden they were said to be just a few miles from the moor when they came across men retreating. The battle had barely lasted an hour and the regiment could not make it to the moor to help their fellow Jacobites in time. They did however, form part of the rear-guard which helped protect the men as they fled to Ruthven Barracks. Following Culloden many of the men later surrendered in Badenoch, however Cluny himself remained a fugitive for 9 years until he finally made his way to France.

As well as these regiments there were many individual men who were absent from the battle. Some were on separate expeditions like these regiments whilst others were simply exhausted from the unsuccessful night march and the lack of provisions. As Culloden was the last of several Jacobite battles there were also many men who were taken prisoner by the Government forces, killed during battles and skirmishes or injured in the Jacobite Rising.

We hope you found this information interesting. As always please like, share, tweet and comment to let us know if there is any topic you’d be interested to know more about.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


A Bit Behind the Scenes

As we turn ten years old here’s a few things you may not know about Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre.

As you go through the centre you walk the same path as the Jacobites. The centre is designed so that the first corridor takes you on a journey down to Derby and then, just as the Jacobites did, you turn and head back on yourself until the timeline reaches the night before Culloden. During the Night March corridor the walls on each side are designed to reflect the two opposing armies. The Government side is regulated and smooth whilst the Jacobite side has protruding panels that create a broken façade. The Jacobites were tired, hungry and lacking supplies and were not working as one cohesive unit, whilst the Government were in control of their men and had strict regiments that would form a solid line at the battle the next day.

night march
The Night March Corridor at Culloden


Artefacts discovered during archaeological work on the battlefield are displayed in the exhibition along with a map showing where all the items were found. This work has helped our understanding of the battle, including areas of dense hand-to-hand fighting, and highlighted areas of interest to explore further. Finds include musket balls, broken buckles and a beautiful pewter cross.

Pewter Cross found at Culloden


The outside of the building is clad with larch which turns a beautiful gray colour as it ages. This was chosen to help the building blend in with the scenery behind it. This means that when you are out on the battlefield itself, the building blocks the view of the car park and creates a more seamless transition with the countryside. Hopefully this allows visitors to get a better sense of the openness and desolate nature of the moor.

Culloden Visitor Centre


To keep the centre running and operational we have some handy bits of machinery in the service yard including a biomass boiler. This uses woodchips from the local forestry school so that the building can be as environmentally friendly as possible. With recycling across the site and new LED lights being put in we have retained our Green Tourism Award with Gold status which, as part of a conservation charity, is really important to us.


We hope you enjoyed these little insights into the visitor centre and some of the stories within it. As always please like, share, comment, tweet and, if you can, come and see the centre for yourself.

All the best, The Culloden Team


Top 10 FAQs in the last 10 years

The current Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre first opened its doors 10 years ago this month. To mark the 10 years we thought we would share the top 10 most common FAQs.

  1. Who were the Jacobites? The Jacobites are followers of the exiled King James VII & II, and subsequently his son and grandson. They take their name from the Latin for James, Jacobus.
  2. What is the ’45? The conflict has many different names, the ’45 refers to the year 1745 when the rising began. You will see the conflict called a rebellion, uprising or rising. Here at Culloden we tend to call it the ’45.
  3. Was this Scotland v England? No. This was a conflict over the throne of Great Britain. King James VII & II had been exiled from the British throne and that’s what his grandson Charles Edward Stuart was trying to get back. (Scotland and England at the time of James’ exile had their own parliaments but one royal family who ruled over the British Isles. It wasn’t until the Act of Union 1707, which was passed by his daughter Queen Anne, that created the British parliament in London).
  4. Are there people buried here? Yes. It is estimated that between 1200-1600 people are buried in mass graves on the moor. If you take a walk around the moor you will see headstones marking some of the graves, while others are unmarked. These headstones were paid for by Duncan Forbes of Culloden in 1881 and represent some of the clans that fought here. The thing to remember is that these headstones were put in after the battle and do not represent all the individuals who will be buried onsite.25613 Culloden 259
  5. Did my family fight here? This is a question we are asked at least once a day and it’s hard to answer. On our Facebook page we put up information from Families of the ’45 which talks about certain clans and their roles on both sides. This is a really complicated conflict and the thing to remember is some families had split loyalties or were staunchly pro-Government or pro-Jacobite.
  6. Did they film Outlander here? No. The Culloden moor scenes were not filmed on site. But they have filmed at some of our other beautiful National Trust for Scotland sites including Falkland Palace and Culross in Fife,  for a full list of all filming locations across Scotland check out VisitScotland’s  list.callanish
  7. Were the Jacobites always going to lose the battle of Culloden? The Jacobites were undefeated on the field until the battle of Culloden.  There are so many other events and decisions that contributed to the Jacobite loss at Culloden; from the impact of the cold and wet conditions during the infamous Night March on the 15 April to arguments amongst the commanders over where to place men on the day, the loss was no forgone conclusion.
  8. Are the Jacobites all Highlanders?No. Jacobites came from across the British Isles. Men like English Jacobite and Captain of the Manchester Regiment Francis Townley, to Charles Edward Stuart’s secretary, Irishman George Kelly, there were many non Highlanders who supported the Stuarts in exile. Participating in the ’45 there were Highlanders, Lowlanders (like William Home), Englishmen, Irishmen and members of the Royal Ecossaise and Irish Piquets which were Royal French Regiments .
  9. What happened to Prince Charles and the Duke of Cumberland? Prince Charles disbanded the Jacobite forces and attempted to get back to mainland Europe. The aftermath of Culloden saw over 3000 men, women and children arrested for treason and people living in the Highland brought under the Act of Proscription 1746. In September 1746, Prince Charles met up with a French rescue ship and sailed to France. On 5 November 1746 he wrote to his cousin King Louis XV to ask for 12,000 regular soldiers, money and provisions to go back to Britain to try again. This did not happen. William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland wanted to deal with the Jacobite threat quickly and go back to the ‘real war’ in Europe, the Wars of Austrian Succession. His brother and other contemporaries nicknamed him ‘the Butcher’ for his backing of the legal measures and severe treatment of the Highlands post Culloden. He was described by a contemporary as “proud and unforgiving, fond of war for its own sake”. In 1747 he returned to active service, he did not have another military victory after Culloden.  For more information check out other blog posts.
  10. Where is the battlefield? This seems like an odd one but a lot of people who visit the site for the first time aren’t quite sure how to get to the battlefield luckily we are always happy to point the way. Other frequent questions are where are the bathrooms/café/film show.

We have had a brilliant 10 years in the centre and met 100,000s of wonderful people from all over the world. Thank you for coming to visit us and if you haven’t made it yet 2018 is a fantastic year to come to Scotland!

All the best, The Culloden Team




‘Gentle Lochiel’ – Chief of Clan Cameron

One of the more well known characters of the ’45 Rising was Donald Cameron of Lochiel who was the 19th clan chief of Clan Cameron.

Donald Cameron of Lochiel


The Cameron clan were traditionally loyal to the Stuarts and fought in both the 1715 and 1719 Risings so, when Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in 1745, he quickly sent word to Lochiel in order to gain his support and his influence.

However, Lochiel, like many men at the time, had misgivings and initially sent his brother Archibald Cameron to meet with the Prince. On 19th August though Prince Charles was waiting at Glenfinnan when he saw Lochiel approaching with some 800 Cameron men forming the largest support of the Jacobite army.

Lochiel was considered a loyal and fair man and became known as ‘Gentle Lochiel’. After the Battle of Prestonpans he ordered that all the Government men should be taken care of and receive adequate medical attention. Similarly, when the Jacobite army marched through Glasgow, he ensured there were no reprisals for not supporting Prince Charles. Indeed to this day city bells are rung when the present Cameron of Lochiel enters the city.

Lochiel took part in all the major battles of the ’45 Rising. The Camerons were instrumentally in the seizing of Edinburgh and fought in the successful attack at the Battle of Prestonpans. Late in 1745 Lochiel was even made Governor of Edinburgh. It is reported that having secured Edinburgh Lochiel counselled Prince Charles to stop and strengthen his hold on Scotland. However, Prince Charles was determined to continue and Lochiel continued on the campaign down to Derby and back.

At Culloden the Camerons were positioned on the front line and struck the front line of the Government men. After the battle the Lochiel home of Achnacarry was burned to the ground and Lochiel was forced to go on the run. He eventually met up with Prince Charles in the hiding place of Clunys cave before both men managed to flee to France.

We hope you enjoyed this short insight into Lochiel. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and definitely read more about the Camerons of Lochiel who are a fascinating family.

All the best, D



The Ferocious Highland Charge

During the Jacobite Risings in the 17th and 18th Century the Jacobites became known for their fearsome battle tactics and the most formidable of these was the Highland Charge. A fast paced and deadly move the action combined all their power into one attack that took down many men who stood to face them.

The Highland Charge may seem like an impulsive rush towards the enemy but in reality there was an orchestrated set of steps that were deployed to ensure the optimum levels of destruction. Firstly before even starting battle the Jacobites looked at the terrain around them to try and find the best spot for their charge. They wanted firm ground that would be quick underfoot and a slope to carry them to their enemy. Speed was essential for the charge to work.

The Highland Charge


The Jacobite army would stand facing the enemy and begin banging their targes, yelling their clan mottos or cries of battle. Before they even moved they tried to instil some fear in the men opposite. At the time the Highlands were seen as a wild place and those that lived there must be wild also. For the British army, many of whom could be new recruits the site of these ‘savages’ in front of them may have seemed quite imposing.

Eventually the Jacobites would begin to move forward. Slow at first they conserved their energy. As they got closer the British army would begin to fire their grapeshot and their muskets. The charge was not for the faint hearted. The Jacobite soldiers would be running though fire and would undoubtedly suffer losses. When they reached striking distance the Jacobites would fire their muskets. Rather than reload like the British across from them they would throw the muskets down and begin their sprint. The smoke from the musket fire acted as a brief screen to shadow them as they charged.

Images from our Battle Immersion Theatre


The Jacobites would race into the front line of the British army with their broadswords, targes and dirks. The men were skilled in close combat and would use the targe to deflect the enemies bayonets or blades with the dirk hidden behind to slice across a mans neck. As they took out one man the broadsword would already be swinging to take out the next. Such an impenetrable mass would quickly break through the ranks and typically after only a short burst of hand to hand fighting the enemy would begin to withdraw.

The Highland Charge was a daring but highly effective tactic that saw the Jacobites win almost every battle in the ’45 Rising right up until the Battle of Culloden. Here the boggy ground, poor communication and the tactics of the British army saw the Highland Charge, along with the Jacobite rising defeated.

We hope you enjoyed this post on the Highland Charge. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and if you are here be sure to talk to our volunteers who are excellent at demonstrating the charge.

All the best, K & D