Memories from the Past Ten Years.

This month we celebrate ten years since the current visitor centre was opened at Culloden Battlefield. A lot has happened over that time and we asked some of our longest serving employees and volunteers to share their highlights.

One of the biggest highlights was getting the chance to meet the Queen. We were honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visit the site in 2009 and many of the staff and volunteers still remember the day she came.

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Plaque marking the visit of Her Majesty The Queen to Culloden

 

The new centre offered a chance to display more artefacts and expand the information we could share. We were able to include items found during archaeological work on the battlefield so that today people can see exactly where items were found and how they have helped us interpret the events of the battle.

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Pewter cross found at Culloden

 

We have seen many changes over the last ten years but our main goal has always been to protect the site and share its history with people from all over the world. It has been lovely to receive various awards over the years recognising the staff and volunteers dedication to the site. Most recently we had Peter, our volunteer, win the Hospitality Hero award at the HITA awards and it creates a real buzz when you come to work to know that what you are doing is appreciated.

 

Most importantly though the one thing that everyone mentioned was the joy at meeting different people. Whether it is the chance to speak Gaelic and share our history, to learn more about visitors connections with Culloden or more simply the teams we work with here on site. The one thing that seems to keep people coming back to work here is the people.

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Visitors exploring the exhibition

 

And finally a great story that shows that people are always the highlight of our days. One Spring day a young lady come up from one of the car dealerships in Inverness (she was new to her job) looking for Charlie Stewart as she was to pick him up. We did an announcement, looked around and could not find him. Then it dawned on the team it wasn’t just any Spring day it was April 1st, or April Fool’s day, and her colleagues were playing a trick on her. There was a postcard from the shop with Charles Edward Stuart on it so we gave it to her and wrote a message giving apologies for not being here to be picked up.

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Prince Charles Edward Stuart

 

Hopefully we will continue to protect and share Culloden’s incredible past for many years to come with amazing visitors from all over the world.

Hope you enjoyed our highlight as always please like, share, tweet and comment and book your visit to come and see us.

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

Top 10 FAQs in the last 10 years

The current Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre first opened its doors 10 years ago this month. To mark the 10 years we thought we would share the top 10 most common FAQs.

  1. Who were the Jacobites? The Jacobites are followers of the exiled King James VII & II, and subsequently his son and grandson. They take their name from the Latin for James, Jacobus.
  2. What is the ’45? The conflict has many different names, the ’45 refers to the year 1745 when the rising began. You will see the conflict called a rebellion, uprising or rising. Here at Culloden we tend to call it the ’45.
  3. Was this Scotland v England? No. This was a conflict over the throne of Great Britain. King James VII & II had been exiled from the British throne and that’s what his grandson Charles Edward Stuart was trying to get back. (Scotland and England at the time of James’ exile had their own parliaments but one royal family who ruled over the British Isles. It wasn’t until the Act of Union 1707, which was passed by his daughter Queen Anne, that created the British parliament in London).
  4. Are there people buried here? Yes. It is estimated that between 1200-1600 people are buried in mass graves on the moor. If you take a walk around the moor you will see headstones marking some of the graves, while others are unmarked. These headstones were paid for by Duncan Forbes of Culloden in 1881 and represent some of the clans that fought here. The thing to remember is that these headstones were put in after the battle and do not represent all the individuals who will be buried onsite.25613 Culloden 259
  5. Did my family fight here? This is a question we are asked at least once a day and it’s hard to answer. On our Facebook page we put up information from Families of the ’45 which talks about certain clans and their roles on both sides. This is a really complicated conflict and the thing to remember is some families had split loyalties or were staunchly pro-Government or pro-Jacobite.
  6. Did they film Outlander here? No. The Culloden moor scenes were not filmed on site. But they have filmed at some of our other beautiful National Trust for Scotland sites including Falkland Palace and Culross in Fife,  for a full list of all filming locations across Scotland check out VisitScotland’s  list.callanish
  7. Were the Jacobites always going to lose the battle of Culloden? The Jacobites were undefeated on the field until the battle of Culloden.  There are so many other events and decisions that contributed to the Jacobite loss at Culloden; from the impact of the cold and wet conditions during the infamous Night March on the 15 April to arguments amongst the commanders over where to place men on the day, the loss was no forgone conclusion.
  8. Are the Jacobites all Highlanders?No. Jacobites came from across the British Isles. Men like English Jacobite and Captain of the Manchester Regiment Francis Townley, to Charles Edward Stuart’s secretary, Irishman George Kelly, there were many non Highlanders who supported the Stuarts in exile. Participating in the ’45 there were Highlanders, Lowlanders (like William Home), Englishmen, Irishmen and members of the Royal Ecossaise and Irish Piquets which were Royal French Regiments .
  9. What happened to Prince Charles and the Duke of Cumberland? Prince Charles disbanded the Jacobite forces and attempted to get back to mainland Europe. The aftermath of Culloden saw over 3000 men, women and children arrested for treason and people living in the Highland brought under the Act of Proscription 1746. In September 1746, Prince Charles met up with a French rescue ship and sailed to France. On 5 November 1746 he wrote to his cousin King Louis XV to ask for 12,000 regular soldiers, money and provisions to go back to Britain to try again. This did not happen. William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland wanted to deal with the Jacobite threat quickly and go back to the ‘real war’ in Europe, the Wars of Austrian Succession. His brother and other contemporaries nicknamed him ‘the Butcher’ for his backing of the legal measures and severe treatment of the Highlands post Culloden. He was described by a contemporary as “proud and unforgiving, fond of war for its own sake”. In 1747 he returned to active service, he did not have another military victory after Culloden.  For more information check out other blog posts.
  10. Where is the battlefield? This seems like an odd one but a lot of people who visit the site for the first time aren’t quite sure how to get to the battlefield luckily we are always happy to point the way. Other frequent questions are where are the bathrooms/café/film show.

We have had a brilliant 10 years in the centre and met 100,000s of wonderful people from all over the world. Thank you for coming to visit us and if you haven’t made it yet 2018 is a fantastic year to come to Scotland!

All the best, The Culloden Team