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

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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