The great thing about working at Culloden Battlefield is discovering all the different connections people and places have to the site as it’s influence and story reaches across many different and unexpected places.
Today we’ve picked two little gems from a couple of properties nearby that show different aspects of the Culloden story. Firstly to Hugh Millers Birthplace just across the water on the Black Isle.
Hugh Miller was a well known geologist in the 19th Century but it is his grandfather who provides the connection to Culloden having witnessed the Battle of Culloden from the Hill of Cromarty when he was a boy of fourteen. His grandfather told of the day being drizzly and thick and when he climbed the hill he found many townsfolk already assembled. A little after noon a round white cloud rose from Culloden Moor and then a second beside it. He talks of hearing the rattle of smaller fire-arms mingled with the roar of artillery. Then, after what felt like an exceedingly short space of time, the clouds dissipated and the rattle and roar was replaced with the sharp patter of musketry.
Miller also talks of another story told to him by a woman who on the day of the battle was tending sheep. She sat listening to the boom of the cannon in terror but talks of being still more scared by the howling of her dog who sat upright on his haunches the whole time the firing continued reportedly ‘looking as if he saw a spirit.’
During his life Miller also spoke with at least two soldiers who fought at Culloden, one on the government side, the other the Jacobite. The first, a forester, accompanied the government army to Fort Augustus and spoke of the atrocities he saw; some of which still made his blood boil seventy years later. He talked of scores of cottages in flames and droves of cattle brought in from Highlanders lands. At one point he mentions there must have been about twenty thousand cattle and groups of drovers from Yorkshire and the south of Scotland would come in every day to share in the spoil and buy the cattle at greatly reduced prices.
These accounts of the battle are incredibly special and show the impact the event had on the Highland that they were shared down the generations for years to come. Storied like these help give a personal insight to the battle and the events that took place here almost 270 years ago.
From accounts of the battle we now move to something more modern and to the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore.
Recently most people will probably have heard of this place in terms of Outlander as it featured in the TV series where they filmed the ladies ‘waulking the wool’. However, also on its grounds stands a Tin Tabernacle – ‘a temporary church’, in this case made from corrugated iron – that was previously situated on land that once formed part of Culloden Battlefield.
The building in question is Leanach Mission Church which was erected in 1907 to serve both the Church of Scotland and Free Church congregations. The church original sat in the crossroads beside the battlefield and was used by the local community. Originally supplied in kit form by Spiers of Glasgow, the church is listed as having cost £260 when it was first built. In the 1950s the services at Leanach Church were attended by 20 to 30 people, however, by the 1980s the church had become redundant and so was acquired by the Highland Folk Museum as the first of many ‘historical rural buildings’ to be re-erected on the museum’s site. The pulpit, organ and communion table have all been retained as original features in the wooden-clad interior of the church and it is great to have the original church kept safe as another point of history in the Culloden story.
These are just two short examples of the story and importance of Culloden being shared and preserved but there are countless more throughout the world. Hopefully we will share some more stories but for now we hope you enjoyed this little insight and as always please like, follow, comment, tweet and share your own Culloden stories.
All the best K & D