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

 

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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

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 the Government men 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