It's long overdue, but I promised a post on Culloden Moor - so without further ado...
Back in March I had the tremendous pleasure of visiting the Battlefield of Culloden Moor. Back in 1746, things came to a head in the Jacobite rebellion as Charles Eduard Stuart, or Bonnie Prince Charlie, led the Jacobite Scots against the British crown in an attempt to gain what he saw as his rightful place as the ruler of Scotland. And as much as one might believe that Jacobite Scotland is long gone, many people still feel the wounds of this war. As two of my own ancestors fought in this battle on the Jacobite side, I couldn't help but feel both a pull to the battlefield, as well as a pull to the Jacobite cause. And on cold, windy day in March, I found myself wandering the site where my ancestors fell.
I don't know what I expected from the visitor's center, but it was really well done. As you walk through, the story is told by both sides. One side is lined with English commentary, the other Scottish. Timelines and facts slowly wind you through the events that forever altered Scottish history and culture. I found the experience very sad if I'm honest. The moment that everything became very real is when we stepped into a small room with screens surrounding us. Suddenly the screens filled with soldiers at war, the cries of men and sounds of war loudly attacking our ears. I can't imagine the difference in experience without those few moments.
From there, we picked up our audio guides and walked the battlefield. And though the wind blew hold and harsh, I can honestly say at some point I just didn't feel it any longer. I was so engrossed... so lost in my ancestors' world that I lost all sense of self and presence. I don't know if you've ever experienced something like that while traveling, but I sincerely hope that one day you do. It's a rare gift.
Simple stones mark the field, reminding us of the clans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for what they believed in, for the freedom they fought and died for... And we read the stones and remembered the men who fell on that blood stained field. I think that's the most important thing we can do here... remember their cause and remember their world.
After wandering the battlefield, we headed back inside. There's a cafeteria and gift shop where you can fill your belly or bring home gifts, or reminders of your time spent at Culloden.
All in all, I have to say that I believe they did quite well. The stories are told well, and the experience on the battlefield was just as I felt it should be. And even though, I had less interest in the British side of things, it's important to tell their stories too. If you find yourself near Culloden, do take the opportunity to step back in time and remember the Highlanders.