I am not (too) ashamed to say that I only know of the Battle of Culloden because of my avid obsession with Outlander (see previous post on Lallybroch), but since I did know about it, I was interested in making a trip to the battlefield and memorial on our recent trip to Scotland.
The Battle of Culloden, in 1745, was the last military clash to be fought on British soil. Ultimately, the Jacobites (mostly Scottish Highlanders) supported “Bonnie Prince Charlie” as king of Great Britain while the Royal Army and Great Britain maintained George II as king. While the Jacobites had won several small skirmishes and battles, at Culloden they were out-numbered, out-trained, and out-prepared. The battle was brutal and the aftermath as well, as the British butchered most prisoners and wounded Jacobites (their leader, Duke of Cumberland, was known as the Butcher after this). Many clans were essentially entirely extinguished.
I won’t give you a history lesson, the museum at the battlefield actually does a really great job of this. They have each room split down the middle with the British point of view and action and the Jacobite point of view and action. You can also purchase an audio tour and listen to either (or both) side as you walk through the exhibit. We only took about 30 minutes but you could easily spend an hour listening and reading to everything.
After the exhibit, you enter a viewing room that has screens on all sides where they small scale re-enact the battle. It was really interesting as you stand in the middle of the room and the “battle” is going on all around you — they shoot from one side of the room and you can turn and watch the bullet hit someone on the other side. We didn’t stay for the whole battle (I got the point), and so we moved on to the battlefield itself.
As you would expect, the battlefield is a vast, open field, empty except for the flagpoles indicating the British and Jacobite starting locations and then the memorial stones for the clans. As memorials should be, it was somber and a bit, eerie? I’m not sure if that is the right word, but I’m not sure what else describes as youre walking across a field where so many men were killed. Even if I have no ties to the history of Scotland (and I don’t think I do), it still makes you sad whenever you come across places and history like this one.
That all being said, if you are in the region of Inverness on a trip to Scotland, I would absolutely recommend a stop here. It doesn’t have to take you more than 1-1.5 hours but I think it gives you fascinating insight into what the history of the region and country is.
Oh, and if you don’t watch Outlander….you probably should