Culloden – A tragedy beautifully memorialized

This is a site well worth the visit  and I’m sure it has the same effect on the onlooker as on those who visit the monument of 9/11 or the Viet Nam War Memorial. It is another of history’s stories of honour and courage, power, greed and futility.  Culloden is a bleakly beautiful moor lying at the gateway to the highlands just outside of Inverness.  In season, Scottish thistle, heather and wild flowers bloom in the peaceful fields.  The old thatched farmhouse that was a silent witness to the battle in 1746 still stands, with highland cattle and horses grazing nearby.

The Culloden Memorial Museum has a 360 degree theater inside the building that gives you the impression of being in the middle of the battle.  Before entering the movie you walk down a darkened hallway as though you are trudging through the night rain, hungry, tired, poorly armed and thinking with dread of what the day ahead might bring. From the shadows, you can hear the voices of commanders and clansmen encouraging you onward in the glorious hope that Bonny Prince Charlie will sit upon the stone of destiny as king,  and your small croft of ancestral land with sheep, cows, and “hame”  will not be lost. Some of the men wrote poignant letters to wives and families they would never see again.

Many of them were armed only with swords or sticks and I tried to imagine what it must have felt like going against a fully equipped army of carbine and canon. They had the pipers to spur them on but in the end 2000 highlanders lay dead or dying.  Those who escaped were hunted down and executed. The Jacobite Rebellion was over and the highland clearances continued relentlessly.

At any rate it’s impossible to walk out dry eyed  after watching the film and I was deeply moved as I walked through fields that had been steeped in blood and were now strewn with the solemn marker stones bearing the names of those clans that fell. I thought perhaps I was walking on the ghosted bones of some of my own ancestors among those MacPhersons, MacDhonnachaidhs, MacLeods and Murrays. Their names are echoes in the piper’s tune and their dust is fused with the earth of Culloden Moor.

Background:  The Irish and French supported the Jacobites against the British and fought alongside them. The French tried to warn the highland commanders that they were ill prepared to face the English but there was no turning back. The Irish Brigade shouted  “Cuimhnighidh ar Luimneach agus ar Feall na Sassanach”  or Remember Limerick and Saxon Perfidy!

The Highland clearances were also known as  Fuadach nan Gàidheal, the “expulsion of the Gaels”

“Bonny” Prince Charlie escaped with the help of Flora MacDonald to the Isle of Skye and then to France.  He sadly died in exile, a drunken and broken man.

A very patriotic song by Robbie Burns “Scots wha hae”

Another post is here

Ed Mooney’s History Challenge- Culloden

15 Comments Add yours

  1. pattimoed says:

    Beautiful and moving post. All the best to you and your loved ones in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Patti. And blessings to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing images to illustrate this piece of history, a fascinating read. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it!! Thanks so much Lore!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very moving, I can relate to this, both Scotland and Ireland shared a terrible time with England. I will make a point to visit the next time im in Scotland. My last visit was a number of years ago at the re-enactment of Bannockburn. We always engaged in hard fighting with likeminded re-enactors, but the history of the place must have got to me, on that weekend as I remember being taking off the field twice by field marshalls and told to calm down.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Ed- I can understand being emotional about these tragic events and how it can effect you. Yes, I remember hearing the stories of Ireland too (at Tara the first time I went – the rebellion of 1798)- and more recently I watched the movie “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” . Truly as you say, it was a brutal time with the purge in the highlands of all Catholic sentiment and the robbing of the land etc- though not all Jacobites were Catholic. It was called in Scottish gaelic Fuadach nan Gàidheal,-” the expulsion of the Gaels.”- so many people displaced. I didn’t realize that the Irish had supported and fought with them as well till I read more of the history. You will be moved by Culloden when you go – and they have done a wonderful job at the site. Visiting there is called “the Jacobite Jaunt.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure we has to help out our mental cousins against a common enemy. We even went as far as crowning BRUCE king of Ireland, lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I didn’t know that one either!! 😀 Another interesting story!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you Cybele 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. DG MARYOGA says:

    Hand in hand with history and some remarkable photos accompanying your vivid account,dear Cybele!The film you watched aroused your emotional side and helped you to revive the tragic events.All of your photos,which are of great historical value,are superb,loved “The Culloden Moor” and the “Culloden Battlefield at peace” as well as Berns’ patriotic song 🙂 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It means a lot to me that you enjoy the little histories with the images Doda!! I so appreciate your sensitive comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DG MARYOGA says:

        We share the same sensitivities in a way,dear Cybele.Your photos and your descriptions are always enthralling 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. many thanks for your support as always!

        Liked by 1 person

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