Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan Monument marks the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising and makes a beautiful partner to the battlefield of Culloden, where the Rising met its end. Today we look into the history of the monument and the site where it stands.

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Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel

 

In 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland and made his way up Loch Shiel to Glenfinnan where he hoped the clans would join with him to support the Jacobite cause. He arrived at Glenfinnan with roughly 50 men but within a couple of days his numbers reached 1,500 with support from Cameron of Lochiel, MacDonald of Keppoch to name just two. Satisfied he could make a Rising work the Jacobite standard was raised for the first time and the ’45 Rising began.

Sat at the head of Loch Shiel the monument we see today was put up in 1815, for the local laird Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale, to commemorate the Jacobites who fought and fell during the 1745 uprising. Sadly the monument also became a memorial to Alexander, who died on 4th January 1815, aged just 28 and thus he did not live to see the monument completed. By all accounts Alexander was a flamboyant man who lived in excess. He seemed to have a liking for nice clothes and was not afraid to spend money and this is confirmed by his debts of some £32,000 when he died.

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Glenfinnan Monument

 

The monument was designed by James Gillespie Graham, a Dunblane-born architect famed for designing part of Edinburgh’s New Town and considered on of Scotland’s foremost architects of the beginning of the nineteenth century. There has been much debate as to whether the monument marks the exact spot where Prince Charles first raised the standard, but it is safe to say that the site is certainly dramatic and fitting for a commemoration. The tower itself is relative simple, standing 18.3m high and encloses a spiral stair lit by narrow slit windows which leads to a crenulated parapet.

Initial impressions of the tower were not always great with one review calling it ‘a cake house, without even the merit of containing cakes’. Originally there was a small bothy at the base of the tower but this was removed in the 1830’s and the now famous highlander was added to the top of the monument. The statue was made by sculptor John Greenshields and many believe it to be of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. However, there is a story that tells of Greenshield travelling to Lee Castle where there was a portrait of Prince Charles that he aimed to copy for the statue. When he arrived there were two portraits side-by-side; one of Prince Charles and one of George Lockhart, whose family owned the castle. Only one was dressed in Highland clothes so Greenshields copied this portrait, but, he got the wrong man,  and supposedly the statue is actually modelled off Lockhart instead of Prince Charles.

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Statue at the top of the monument

 

Today, the National Trust for Scotland looks after the monument and houses a small visitor centre, complete with an exhibition about the monument and the ’45. This year the monument is 201 years old and has undergone conservation work to ensure it remains part of the Glenfinnan landscape and also to renovate some of the gorgeous plaques that surround the monument.

If you get the chance definitely stop by Glenfinnan to see the monument in all its glory. As always please like, share, tweet, comment and keep following the history of the Jacobites from Glenfinnan to Culloden.

All the best, K & D

 

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A Jacobite Journey through Scotland

In the National Trust for Scotland we are lucky enough to have several sites which are connected to the Jacobite story so we thought we’d look at a few of these special places and share their unique stories.

Firstly, to the majesty of Killiecrankie. This steep sided gorge was home to the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 in which the Government army was sent north to deal with Viscount Dundees newly formed Jacobite army. The Jacobites were able to rout the Government army, but it came at a cost. Roughly one third of the Highland force was killed and Viscount Dundee was mortally wounded. He died on the battlefield and was carried the few miles to the nearby parish church of St Bride, above Blair Castle where he was buried.

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Killiecrankie in the Autumn

The death of Dundee, in the midst of the confusion of a cavalry charge, became the subject of numerous legends, the best known of which was the tale that he was invulnerable to lead (due to having made a pact with the Devil) and was killed not by the government shot but by a silver button from his own coat being pushed into the wound.

Another legend of Killiecrankie is the Soldiers Leap. Along the gorge is a narrow section where it is said Donald MacBean, a government soldier, avoided capture by jumping 5.5m (18.5 feet) across the river. Despite losing his shoe on the way across, he survived and escaped, later becoming a prize fighter. You can walk out to the point at which MacBean made his famous leap but i wouldn’t fancy giving it a go myself.

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Soldiers Leap at Killiecrankie

Today the gorge is famous for its autumn colours. Its Gaelic name ‘Coille Chneagaidh’ or ‘Wood of Shimmering Aspen’ sums it up perfectly. There is a beautiful walk along the gorge or for the more adventurous there is a bungee jump off the Garry Bridge.

From gorgeous Killiecrankie to the equally stunning Glencoe. This beautiful site is considered one of the most picturesque spots in Scotland but its history is a little more on the ugly side. In 1692 the Massacre of Glencoe took place in the early morning of the 13th February. Members of the MacDonald clan were murdered by soldiers of the neighbouring Campbell clan for not pledging allegiance to William III.

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Glencoe

The Highland clan chiefs had been set a deadline of the 1st January 1692 to swear an oath of loyalty to William III to be granted an indemnity. MacDonald was late in declaring his oath and an order, signed by the King himself, was raised to enact the massacre.

Alastair MacLain, 12th Chief of Glencoe, and the man responsible for the late pledge, was killed as he tried to rise from his bed. 37 other men were murdered in their homes or as they tried to flee with as many as 40 women and children dying from exposure after their homes were burned down. Today there is a monument in Glencoe remembering the fallen MacDonald men.

Finally we couldn’t talk about Jacobites without mentioning Glenfinnan Monument.

An autumn view of the Glenfinnan Monument by Loch Shiel.
Glenfinnan Monument

It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stuart truly began his ’45 campaign on 19th August 1745. On the hills around the monument Charles raised the Jacobite standard for the first time and began his fateful campaign which would end the following year at Culloden. All the mustered clans heard as Charles claimed the Scottish and the English thrones in the name of his father, James, the Old Pretender.

In 1815 a monument was built to commemorate the raising of the standard, the monument stands 18m high and is topped with a statue of an unknown highlander.

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The Unknown Soldier on top of Glenfinnan Monument

Be sure to check out these places and even more to discover the history of the Jacobites and of course make sure you visit Culloden to complete your visit! As always please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and enjoy uncovering the pages of history as you take your own Jacobite adventure.

All the best, K & D

The Raising of the Standard

This week saw the 270th anniversary of the raising of the Jacobite Standard at Glenfinnan on 19th August 1745.

Last time we looked at the Princes journey as he made his way from the continent to arrive in Scotland but now we thought we’d share what happened as he made his way to Glenfinnan.

Here at Culloden Battlefield we find a lot of people believe that all of the clans joined Prince Charles Edward Stuart when he arrived in Scotland and united to form the Jacobite army but this is far from the truth. In actual fact most clans were sceptical of the Prince. Having arrived in Scotland with very few men, thanks in part to the loss of his convoy ship the Elizabeth, Prince Charles was not in a particularly strong position when he first arrived. He did however have a very strong belief in his cause and a persuasive personality.

Thanks to the Prince landing in such a remote part of the Highlands the Government were unaware of his presence for over a week giving the Prince time to unload his supplies and begin to make his way to Kinlochmoidart. The first authentic account of the Princes arrival did not reach Sir John Cope, Commander in Chief of the Scottish forces until 8th August.

Whilst Prince Charles tried to convince men to join his cause Duncan Forbes, the Chief Justice of Scotland, went to Culloden House where he began the crucial role of organising government support in the North East and setting up independent companies, disrupting Jacobite recruitment.

The first major action of the ’45 Rising occured on 16th August 1745.  The Government sent reinforcements to Fort William to prepare for the Jacobite threat but Prince Charles heard of the plan and informed his supporters and 60 men were captured by the MacDonnell’s of Keppoch. Two companies of Royal Scots government soldiers were taken prisoner at High Bridge over the River Spean. Keppoch MacDonald Highlanders later joined by some Cameron’s and MacDonald’s terrified the soldiers, who it is said were mainly raw recruits from Ireland who were not used to the Highland terrain. They fled until they reached Lagganachadrom where 50 Glengarry Highlanders met them with volleys of gunshot. Donald Cameron of Lochiel then arrived and took charge placing the soldiers in Achnacarry Inn. Royal Scots wounded in the skirmish were treated by Jacobite doctor Achibald Cameron, brother of Cameron of Lochiel. The Government prisoners were then taken with the clan to Glenfinnan where they would meet the Prince.

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The ruins of the Highbridge today

On the 19th August Prince Charles landed at Slatach having rowed up Loch Shiel with a guard of fifty men from Clanranald and made his way to Glenfinnan. There was no one waiting for him. He began to despair but then the Highlanders appeared.

Soon there were 1,500 men. Cameron of Lochiel arrived with about 600 clansmen, MacDonald of Keppoch with about 350, and MacDonald of Morar with about 150. Satisfied that he had enough support to mount his rebellion, he climbed the hill behind where the Visitor Centre now stands and raised his father’s standard. James II was proclaimed as King and Prince Charles appointed Prince Regent. The 1745 Rising had truely begun.

An autumn view of the Glenfinnan Monument by Loch Shiel.
An autumn view of the Glenfinnan Monument by Loch Shiel.

Today, the site is marked by the Glenfinnan Monument whichw as erected in 1815 by Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladale to commemorate the Jacobites who fought and fell during the 1745 uprising. Designed by James Gillespie Graham it shows a lone kilted highlander surveying the lands around him. There is also a visitors centre with a new exhibition which opened in 2013 to fully tell the story of the history of Glenfinnan.

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The Highlander at the top of Glenfinnan Monument

Hope you enjoyed a bit more of Prince Charles’ story and as always please like, share, tweet, comment, follow and if you have the chance head to Glenfinnan to see the monument!

All the best. K & D