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.

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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.

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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

 

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Preview of the new learning resources!

For the past 10 months our learning team has been working on a new resource for school teachers.

In this blog post we thought we would share some of the resource with you and show you what our learning team get up to!

It all started when our Head Education Guide, Catriona, was tasked with a re-vamp of our teacher resource pack, what started out as a refresh ended up as a brand new Gaelic/English resource.

One of the bits some pupils, and sometimes the teachers, find the toughest is getting to grips with the family tree!  For Catriona it was one of the most important parts of the resource. The family tree can look off-putting and confusing so we have made a simple, not too fussy version of it. It goes from Mary, Queen of Scots all the way through to George III; Catriona would have loved to go all the way through to Queen Victoria or even the current monarchy, sadly it wouldn’t all fit on an A4 double page spread!

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This is a section of the family tree taken from the new teacher resource

One of the other aspects of the resource is biographies of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. There is a lot of information out there on the two Princes and the learning team wanting to bring the key information into one place which was accessible for teachers.

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The final section of the resource should be one of the most useful – over time the words we use to talk about the conflict have changed.

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A wee explanation covers what the Act of Settlement(1701) actually is, what does Divine Right of Kings mean and other key phrases.

One of the most interesting things that the team discovered while writing this related to the word Red Coat. The term redcoat came widely into use after Culloden and starts to be used during the American Revolution/Wars of Independence (depends on which side you fall) in the 1760s. Dearganach is a Gaelic word and it describes men in red coats; some believe it was used during the Jacobite era to describe government soldiers.

Hopefully it will help teachers who maybe don’t know too much about the ’45 to feel inspired and encourage them to teach it in their classes!

With much valued input and advice from 18th century historians and Jacobite specialists:  Prof. Murray Pittock, Prof. Christopher Duffy, Prof. Allan MacInnes and Dr Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart this resource will be available from later October 2017.

All the best, K&D (and our lovely learning team!)

 

Stranger than fiction : ‘The Adventures of William Home’

If you have recently visited Culloden Battlefield, you might have gone on one of our museum highlight tours run by the volunteers in the learning team.

We all have our favourite objects and stories that we can talk about for hours, and for this blog John, one of our volunteers, is sharing one of his favourite stories:

Ensign William Home .

During war exceptional people can emerge from the carnage of battle as representing the true character of a hero and they are worth taking notice off. One of these individuals is William Home. At just 14 years old he carried the standard at the Battle of Falkirk and here at Culloden.

William was born at Duns in Berwickshire around 1731, the only son of Patrick Home of Langrig, who was a maltster by trade. He signed up to the Jacobite army in the role of a Cornet (Ensign) in Lord Balmerino’s Life Guards and fought at Prestonpans, Falkirk, and Culloden. On occasion he acted as aide-de-camp to Prince Charles Edward Stuart ,who presented him with a miniature of himself , a medal and Quaich . These items, along with Williams carbine, are on display in the first corridor at the Culloden Visitor Centre .

We know about William Homes activities at Culloden and the immediate aftermath, through a letter he wrote to a John Home.

The first troop of Lifeguards , commanded by Lord Echo and posted on the right of the front line were the first that gave way and in a very short time the infantry of this line broke their ranks and left their ground , no efforts were made by the second line , at best none of any consequence .As for the French auxiliaries, they did not fire a shot and indeed through the whole of the uprising from their landing in Scotland I never thought them of much use .

From the line giving way and the second line not being very forward , the rout became general and the confusion inexpressible in that situation of affairs the Prince quitted the field and not before as has been alleged by some ,and even then he went off with the utmost reluctance , the bridle of his horse having been seized and forcibly turned about after crossing the river , he dismissed the horsemen that were with him, they were ordered to proceed to Ruthven Barracks in Badenoch and there to wait the arrival of Lord George Murray , he accordingly came on the Saturday immediately following the day of the battle /( Wednesday ), he drew us all out and made a short speech, which he concluded by telling us to shift for ourselves as there were no more occasion for our services .”

After the Battle of Culloden William was captured and imprisoned in Stirling Castle before being transferred to Carlisle Castle. He was tried for treason and condemned to death on 19th September 1746. William was to be executed on 17th October at Carlisle. The day was chosen because it was market day for the town and therefore greater numbers than usual would observe the executions.

The Crown Solicitor Mr Philip Webb wrote the following remarks “ William Home who was in the “most guilty class “bore the Pretender’s standard at Falkirk and Culloden , but was at that time 14 years old ..”

Whilst in prison, under sentence of death, considerable efforts were made to secure a reprieve including a petition on behalf of William Home to the King George II .

“When the rebellion broke out and your unhappy petitioner was first seduced to depart from his allegiance he was not yet 14 years of age , one fitter to be employed at school , than in waging rebellion : but the appearance of some with whom your petitioner had been acquainted, and the temptations of a military dress were the only inducements , which first engaged , and since hurries him on to the taking of those steps which must now inevitably bring him to a miserable end , unless it should graciously please your Majesty , out of your Royal mercy otherways to dispense of him and to spare that life which he has forfeited by his crime of rebellion.”

Conditions in the prisons were bad and there was concern for Williams health because of a fever that was raging among the prisoners. Also, there was growing apprehension from Williams family that the petition would not work as news of more and more executions came in.

However, William was eventually offered a pardon upon condition that he enlisted in an independent company in the service of the East India Company. He was sent to Portsmouth  but, along with a number of others, he refused to enlist and was sent back to Carlisle. William never enlisted nor was he transported , instead, due to an error in paperwork, he was exiled and went to live on the continent . He entered service in the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great where he rose to the rank of Colonel .

We hope you enjoyed this post by our lovely volunteer John. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, K & D

 

A day as an intern at Culloden Battlefield…

Hello! My name is Caroline and I am an intern at the battlefield. I’m currently studying Museology and Heritage Sites in France and I was very lucky to get an internship here in Scotland.

Since I know most of you are probably raring to know what an intern does all day in a place such as this, I’m going to tell you how my typical day goes.

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Culloden Battlefield

 

I arrive for 9:00 at the Battlefield. Then, depending on if volunteers are already here or not, I change into costume. You might have seen me with two different costumes on, that’s because each costume is for a different presentation.

A 9:30, if no other volunteer is in, I do a presentation for the visitors at the Battle Zone. It implies me talking about a topic (that can vary from Frenchmen in the Jacobite Army to the Highland Soldiers) in front of an audience, handling weapons and making people participate in military drills. It’s always a nice moment every time because I either get very enthusiastic people volunteering or I have to choose at random. The people who are chosen are also very cooperative once they get into the atmosphere. The goal is not to take yourself seriously.

After this presentation, I start handing out stickers and doing tours. Most of my day is spent at the back desk of the Visitor Centre, answering questions and taking bookings, and then on the Battlefield, doing tours. Even though the tour is only supposed to last 30 minutes, mine always last at least 40 minutes! It seems I just can’t stop talking sometimes… The tours are very enjoyable because they’re always different. In spite of the fact that I say a very similar text every time, the audience reacts in a variety of manners and asks a lot of different questions!

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Guided tours take in all the main parts of the battlefield

 

Sometimes, I can also stay in costume and work at the handling tables, where I present many replicas of objects from the time of the battle to the visitors, allowing them to touch them and interact with them. I’ve had quite a few visitors from France and Germany coming to the tables and since I speak these two languages, I’m able to explain things to them. It makes them happy and it’s always an experience: try to translate “Basket-hilted broadsword” in French (or in German for that matter)!

At the end of the day, I try to work on the project I decided to complete while I’m here. I was able to find a newspaper article telling about the battle from a French newspaper dating from 1746. I’m currently in the process of retranscripting and translating it. I would like to enable British pupils studying French to study it and translate it as part of a school program. It’s an interesting article, as much because of its contents, than because of the evolution of the French language you can witness in the article.

As you can see now, my days are quite busy at the Battlefield and they go by much too fast! I’m really enjoying every day I spend here and I hope I will be lucky enough to always work in such a nice environment.

As always please like, share, tweet and if you ever want to be an intern feel free to contact us.

All the best

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

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