A Jacobite Tale

The Outlander Series of books is not the only time Jacobite history has appeared in works of fiction. In fact, the Jacobites and their complex history have intrigued writers for centuries.

Firstly, we step back to 1814 and Sir Walter Scott with this historical novel ‘Waverley’. This was Scott’s first venture into prose fiction and was originally published anonymously, although it is said almost every reviewer guessed it was his work and many readers recognised his hand. The novel is set during the ’45 rising and follows the story of one Edward Waverley, a young English soldier, as he is sent to Scotland and into the heart of the rebellion. When it was first published it was an astonishing success with the first edition of 1,000 copies selling out within two days. Critics widely praised Scott’s work and it became so popular that his later novels were advertised as being by the author of ‘Waverley’.

From Scott to Stevenson. Written as a ‘boys novel’ Robert Louis Stevensons story ‘Kidnapped’ was first published in the magazine ‘Young Folks’ in 1886 before becoming a novel. The story follows the adventures of David Balfour following the ’45 Rising and includes the ‘Appin Murder’ of 1752 in Ballachulish. Though many of the characters were real people the novel is not historically accurate. The book sold well whilst Stevenson was alive and he followed it up with a sequel ‘Catriona’ but the themes were more romantic than adventurous and it did not reach the same level of fame as ‘Kidnapped’.

Also on the list of Jacobite fiction authors is John Buchan, perhaps best known for the book ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’. In 1923 he published ‘Midwinter’ which is set during the ’45 and tells the tale of Alastair Maclean, confidant of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who embarks on a secret mission to raise support for the Jacobite cause in the West of England.

Historical fiction was not just tackled by men. In 1925 the first book of ‘The Jacobite Trilogy ‘ was produced by Dorothy Kathleen Broster, better known as D.K. Broster. Featuring the dashing hero Ewen Cameron the trilogy consists of ‘The Flight of the Heron’, ‘The Gleam in the North’ and ‘The Dark Mile’.  The books follow Ewen a small landowner and close relative of the chief of the Clan Cameron across the ’45 Rising and the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has been the latest big success showing the interest in historical fiction remains and the Jacobite period has plenty to offer in the way of adventure and, in Outlander’s case, romance. Following the main characters of Jamie and Claire through Jacobite history and beyond, the books have now been made into a TV series filmed in Scotland showcasing the dramatic scenery of the country and encouraging many people to see Scotland for themselves.

Recently we have also seen ‘Gathering Storm’ by Maggie Craig published in 2013. The book is set in Edinburgh in 1743 where Jacobite support is growing, causing new tensions in the city. The story could be classed as an historical romance but is full of plenty of crime, politics and intrigue to keep everyone happy. Craig is probably best known for her books ‘Bare Arsed Bandetti’ and ‘Damn Rebel Bitches’ which look at the stories of the men and women of the ’45 Rising and should definitely be checked out.

We hope you enjoyed this dabble into Jacobite fiction and, of course, all these books are on sale in our shop at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Also, this month we have a series of talks looking into the world of the Jacobites in fiction including talks from Maggie Craig and Diana Gabaldon. For details on these check out our Events page. http://www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Visit/Events/

As always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know your favourite historical fiction books.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

Two Little Gems of History

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.

An exterior view of Hugh Miller's Cottage, Cromarty.
Hugh Miller’s Cottage

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.’

Hugh Miller

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.

Leanach Mission Church

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

Medicine in the 18th Century

There is so much more to Culloden Battlefield than just the history of the Jacobites and we love the fact that we get to also look at conservation, archaeology, geology and the ecology of the land. One topic which has seen a growing interest lately at the centre is that of the plants and flowers which are found on the battlefield (possibly due to their prominence in the Outlander series) and their uses in the 17th Century.

Hence we thought we’d take this opportunity to talk a little bit about some of the plants found on the battlefield and their important uses in terms of both medicine and everday use.

Firstly, the plant Comfrey. The roots of this plant are not too dissimilar to a parsnip and would be available all year round. The roots were beaten to a pulp and mixed with presumably wool and used to knit bones in a similar way to a plaster cast. They were also boiled in wine to help bruises or ulcers.

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Comfrey Root

Borage was used to expel pensiveness and melancholy. It would have been used only in fresh form and the juice, which apparently smells like cucumber, was made into a syrup in order to open and cleanse wounds. The roots and leaves were also used for fever and it is said they were good at defending the heart from poisons.

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Borage

Yarrow leaves were packed into the wound to help stop the bleeding and indeed its Gaelic names include ‘Lus chasgadh ne fada’ or ‘the plant which staunches bleeding. A poultice made from Yarrow and Toadflax could also be used to help induce sleep and ease pain.

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Yarrow Leaves

Creeping Jenny or Moneywort was used to stay any bleeding. The leaves were available most of the year and encouraged the quick healing of wounds.

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Creeping Jenny

Bugle was made into a syrup which was carried year round by many people as a general tonic. During battle it was apparently very effective at treating stab wounds and after battle gangrene could be cured by laying bruised leaves on the wound and the washing the area with the juice of the plant.

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Bugle

These are just a few examples of plants that would have been used during the time of Culloden and focuses mainly on those that would have been helpful in a battle environment. However, many more plants were used for more general ailments such as honeysuckle for sore throats, nettles for easing shortness of breath, dandelion for helping sleep in those with fever and juniper for strengthening the brain.

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always please comment, like, tweet, follow and share any of your medical tips with us here at Culloden.

All the best. K & D

A Little Bit About Outlander

This year we have been amazed by the amount of people coming to Scotland after reading or watching ‘Outlander’ the fictional series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. We usually get a few people who’ve read the series and what to know more but this year with the launch of the TV show things have grown so much it’s sometimes tricky to keep up.

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For those who aren’t in the know the series follows Claire Beauchamp as she falls back through time through a set of standing stones from the 1940’s ending up in 1743. Here she meets Jamie Fraser and has to find her way in 18th Century Scotland. The stories cover the history leading up to and beyond Culloden and have been read by millions worldwide.

So, with that in mind we thought we’d share a bit of our Outlander story. When we found out that Outlander was being made into a TV series we were a bit dubious about how well Scotland and the 18th Century would be portrayed. Luckily we were soon reassured as people came to Culloden to scout the location and make sure everything was accurate. Filming took place at a number of National Trust for Scotland properties so there was lots of excitement on how the final product would appear.

In January we managed to get hold of the first half of series one and in preparation for the new year ahead a few of us sat down to watch. Unfortunately, the some of us included two male learning officers who were, shall we say, reluctant to participate. Watching the shows with two men pointing out every historical inaccuracy made the experience unique to say the least but we all had to admit by the end that they’d done a pretty good job in bringing the stories to life.

Since then we’ve tried to become Outlander experts and guide people to interesting spots on their journey around Scotland. Obviously lots of people come to us her at Culloden. As such a big part of the second book and series people are drawn to our bleak field and many cant help but stop at the Fraser stone on the field which these days usually has a flower or two at its side. However, it’s also nice to know a few other places where visitors can go and explore more about the series.

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The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

The mystical stones of Craigh na Dun in the books, where Claire falls back through time, are just five minutes from the battlefield. Gabaldon based the stone on the site of Clava Cairns an ancient burial ground with chambered cairns surrounded by standing stones. There is even one that has a cleft running down the centre and is supposedly the stone through which Claire falls through time. Granted they may not look the same as the TV series but when you visit the site there is a calm atmosphere that lends itself to the imagination.

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Cleft stone at Clava Cairns

Inverness plays a part in the series as well. But the 1940’s Inverness of the books doesn’t look quite the same as the modern day city. For the backdrop to those scenes you’ll need to head to Falkland in Fife where you can see the Bruce Fountain in the town square as well as the guesthouse and shops from the very first Outlander episode.

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Falkland Square aka 1940’s Inverness

For a feel of the 18th Century though we recommend heading to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore where they have 18th Century crafting houses that formed the Mackenzie village the highlanders travel to whilst collecting rent. As you walk around you will able to spot plenty of sites where filming took place.

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The Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore

For more filming locations check out Culross in Fife which doubled as the home town for Geillis Duncan, Preston Mill whose backdrop viewers will certainly recognise from scenes in the 1940’s and if you want to be taken back to the woods of old head to Tulloch Ghru in the Cairngorms.

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Preston Mill

Of course there is also Doune Castle which stand in for Castle Leoch in the TV series. However, the true seat of Clan Mackenzie is Castle Leod which is found in the Highlands near Strathpeffer. It was here that Diana Gabaldon, who became a guardian of the castle, planted a rowan tree and is now backing a campaign to help save the castle.

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Castle Leod near Strathpeffer

If you’re a fan of Outlander there’s plenty to see and do but the best thing for us is meeting everyone who has read the books or seen the show and been inspired to come and learn the true history and investigate their own Scottish ancestry. So, if you do come to Scotland be sure to come and say hello to us and we’ll help you find your clan, tell you about some real Jacobites and hopefully inspire you even more.

Oh, and just before I forget, we’ve also got some Outlander inspired merchandise in the shop, including the Outlander ring which is based on Jamie and Claires wedding ring and of course all of the books.

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The Outlander Ring

Hope you enjoyed the post please like, share, tweet, comment and if you haven’t yet maybe pick up a copy of Outlander and see what all the fuss is about.

All the best K & D