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 Jacobite Jaunt

This week we went on what has become affectionately known by those at Culloden as the ‘Jacobite Jaunt’. Every year as a thank you to our volunteers we try to organise a day out where we can explore new places of Jacobite interest and also have a bit of fun. So this Thursday a bunch of us headed out on the latest jaunt to see what we could find.

Expertly led by our fearless learning officer Jon we started off by heading into town to Inverness Museum. Here we were given a great tour of the site and taken back stage to see some of the artefacts in storage. This included a waistcoat supposedly worn by Prince Charles Edward Stuart which was gorgeous and letters and documents from the 18th Century. We also got the chance to feel the difference between older tartan compared to modern day. Thanks to the setting agents used now current day tartan is soft and pliable but back in the 18th Century it was much stiffer and harder to move. Not something you usually consider and great to be able to get a chance to understand the difference. It’s safe to say we were all rather pleased our costumes are softer than they were back in the day. We also saw a beautiful tartan wedding dress which is on display in the museum. The tartan would have been hidden away after the Battle of Culloden when tartan was banned and then once the Proscription Act was lifted it was remade into a gorgeous dress which is still worn for weddings by the family to this day.

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Fraser Wedding Dress at Inverness Museum

Next it was off to Culloden House Hotel. I have to say we felt very posh sitting enjoying a cup of coffee in the drawing room and we were treated as we were shown the original wall of the building which was hidden behind the ‘door to nowhere’. Refreshed we then went out to the walled garden and we managed to see the bench which the ‘Ladies of Lallybroch’ donated on behalf of Diana Gabaldon. She has stayed at the hotel and her Outlander series of books has certainly brought many visitors to the area.

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Culloden House Hotel

From here it was a bit of a drive through to Elgin. Here we had a look around Elgin Museum which again houses some Jacobite artefacts and took a walk to see Thunderton House which is said to have been used as a hiding place for Prince Charles before Culloden.

Unfortunately, then it was time to make our way back to Culloden but, we made sure to take the scenic route to catch a few more treasures. Driving through Nairn we paused to see the plaque commemorating the spot where the Duke of Cumberland stayed the night before the Battle of Culloden.  We also drove past the battlefields of Auldearn where the Covenanters fought in 1645. Today you can stop at Boath Doocot, once part of a twelfth century castle, which has views across the fields where the fighting took place.

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Plaque in Nairn

Finally as we got nearer to Culloden we turned off and Jon took us on a rather narrow road to show us a ravine. At first it didn’t look that special but he explained that this was one of the spots where the Jacobite army had thought about fighting with the steep grassy slopes at the side ideal for slowly down the Government army. What if questions arose but who knows what would have happened had the Jacobite army fought there or over the River Nairn.

Overall it was a great day with chance for us all to unwind and do a bit of team bonding whilst getting a great opportunity to explore more Jacobite history so that we can pass it along to all of you when you visit.

As always we hope you enjoyed the post. Please like, share, tweet, follow, comment and let us know about your own ‘Jacobite Jaunts.’

All the best. K & D