Nairn and the Night Attack

On the 16th of April 1746, the Government army and the Jacobite army fought at Culloden Moor (then known as Drumossie Moor) for their final battle. The day before, the Duke of Cumberland, leader of the Government side, turned twenty-five. He and his troops stopped in Nairn, a seaside town about twelve miles east of Culloden, and celebrated with some brandy. The Jacobites planned to take advantage of this, and in an aim to replicate their success at Prestonpans, they employed one of the same tactics they had used for that battle: a night attack.

The Duke of Cumberland was a son of the Hanovarian King George II. After the Jacobite victories at Prestonpans and Falkirk Muir, the Duke arrived in Edinburgh to take over the command of the Government army. He planned to go to the Highlands, where Charles Edward Stuart was, but deciding to wait until spring for another battle, he first went to Aberdeen. There he had the troops trained in a tactic that rendered the Highland Charge less effective; this was deemed very important as the Highland Charge had been instrumental in the Jacobites’ victories in the previous two battles. From Aberdeen, the Government army marched towards Inverness, and just outside of the town of Nairn, it was decided that they should rest and drink in celebration of the Duke’s birthday.

Charles Edward Stuart, Lord George Murray and the Jacobites were in Culloden. Rather than wait there, it was decided that they should all march to Nairn and attack the Government army during the night. There were immediate obstacles, however; provisions had dwindled, and that day many of the Jacobite troops had only had some hard bread to eat. Some had been wandering around in search of food, and when called back, had responded that they would rather be shot than starve any longer.

The plan was to set out at dusk, with George Murray leading the first column, mostly made up of the clans, and Charles and the Duke of Perth leading the second column, which mainly consisted of the Lowland regiments. The projected arrival time in Nairn was around two in the morning.

The Jacobites set off. Houses were avoided on their journey, as well as anything else that could have alerted the Government army to their whereabouts. From the beginning it was difficult; an aide-de-camp of George Murray and Charles’s later wrote,

“This march across the country, in a dark night, which did not allow us to follow any track, had the inevitable fate of all night-marches. It was extremely fatiguing, and accompanied with confusion and disorder.”

The second column found it difficult to keep up with the first, but even the clansmen, more used to the terrain, struggled due to hunger and exhaustion. George Murray, having been informed that the second column had fallen behind, slowed his pace considerably. They all struggled on until two in the morning, when it was judged that they were still three or four miles away from Nairn. The leaders deliberated, before reaching the conclusion that they should turn back; they reasoned that even if their troops were able to quicken their pace, which seemed unlikely, there was still little chance that they would all get to Nairn before daylight broke.

There was confusion, with not all of the troops being made aware of the changed plan. Charles, not realising that the first column had turned back, carried on to Nairn. When it got to him that the first column had gone back to Culloden, he turned back too. Others had almost reached Nairn before they realised that they were alone, and that many members of the Government army were awake, celebrating the Duke of Cumberland’s birthday. The Government army found out about the planned attack and set off for Culloden between four and five in the morning, eager to fight with the knowledge that the Jacobites would be weaker after walking all night.

We hope enjoyed this short post on the infamous failed night attack. As always please like, share, tweet and comment.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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Exploring Culloden : The Weapons

As you walk through the exhibition at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre it is perhaps unsurprising that there are number of weapons on display. It may be easy to pass some of them by but each piece holds its own unique story and so we’ve pulled some of the best together to whet your appetite.

One of the first weapons you come across is the Brodie Sword, a magnificent 18th Century broadsword with intricate hilt and gleaming steel blade. First impressions may lead to you think that it would have been part of the battle but this sword was far too nice for anything as messy as battle. The sword is in fact one of a pair that were made for Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his brother, Henry. The exquisite nature of the sword is such that it would have been used as an ornament rather than a weapon, perhaps part of the reason why it still looks so good today.

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Hilt of the Brodie Sword

 

Rounding the corner and you quickly see the difference between an ornament and a real weapon as you experience those weapons used in combat. Standing proud is a large targe which would have been used by the Jacobite army as a shield. The dark leather outer layer hides within it the marks of musket balls that penetrated the outer skin piercing through to the wooden centre of the targe. These small details make the artefact come alive with history and stories of the past as you try to imagine the terror of being in the midst of battle with guns firing down upon you.

In the battle exploration zone large glass cabinets display the power of the two armies as weapons face each other across the display space. Alongside the muskets and swords sits a rather unique weapon, the blunderbuss. Rather than the sleek long muskets this gun is short and stocky and is probably best described as an 18th Century shotgun. The wide barrel allowed multiple projectiles to be fired towards the enemy. Upon the barrel is an inscription ‘Taken at the Battle of Culloden 16th April 1746 by Capt John Goodenough with 18 balls in it ‘ which adds yet more intrigue to this special piece.

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Typical Highland Targe

 

Every piece in our exhibition is special and has its own story. Just stopping for that moment to get up close and study the objects allows such a rich history to come forward and brings the story of Culloden alive for everyone who visits the site.

We hope you enjoyed this blog about Culloden. As always please comment, tweet, like, share and hopefully you will be able to come and see these weapons for yourself one day.

All the best, The Culloden Team

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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