Every since I was young I have read about Bonnie Prince Charlie and his failed attempt to take back his crown. I always wondered where things went wrong. As I grew older and read more about it, it did seem quite tragic and sad. So, when Diana Gabaldon came out with the Outlander series based on the Scottish Highlands, I was hooked. I read her books, did more research and was excited when we decided to come up to Inverness. Culloden Moor is where the final battle of the Jacobites (Scottish rebels and supporters of Prince Charles Stuart) and the English (the government) took place on April 16, 1746. Our BNB is only three miles from this historic battleground!! The battle was doomed from the start. Though the rebels had won battles against the English at Prestonpans and Falkirk the previous year, the English army greatly outnumbered them in men and artillery. The Jacobite army consisted of clansmen which were mainly farmers. On the morning of April 16, as the English army advanced towards Culloden, the rebels were disorganized and confused due to an aborted raid on the English troops the night before. Many were sleeping in ditches and outbuildings while others were out searching for food. They quickly reorganized but orders from commander in chief, Prince Charles came too late or were not followed and the Jacobites were defeated within an hour. Over 1500 of the 7000 men were killed and many others captured. From then on the English government banned the display of tartan or the use of Gaelic speech. It was the last armed conflict on Scottish soil. We parked our car at the front gate and started walking through the battlefield. Flags and flagpoles illustrate where the both the Jacobite and the Government front lines were. There are walkways, storyboards, and memorial stones throughout the grounds. The moor is rugged and covered in heather, small brush and trees. We spent a couple of hours wandering about and were saddened by the tragedy of it all. Of course, Charles Stuart, for whom they all fought for, escaped to France and lived for another forty years, never to return again to Scottish soil while his countrymen paid the price. To me, that is the real tragedy.
After Culloden, we headed into Inverness for lunch and some shopping. Other than the very ultra modern mall, the town is quaint and fairly touristy.
We couldn’t come all this way and not check out the legend of the Loch Ness monster! We headed down the Loch to the Information and Visitor Centre. They had a very informative and interesting media exhibit showing the history of Loch Ness monster sightings, subsequent research and left us with the question – myth or reality? I think that we both agreed that the monster is a myth but the Loch itself is very interesting. The largest freshwater body of water in Britain, it runs from the North Sea at Inverness to the Irish Sea at Fort William. We decided that we would like to see the Loch close up, so we took a one hour cruise. Though it was rainy and overcast, our cruise director was informative and witty. We travelled a couple of miles up and down the Loch, past the ruins of Urquhart Castle, the largest castle in Scotland, and listened to stories of the research being done on the lake. Though as mentioned, it is the largest freshwater lake in Britain, the water is not used for drinking. In fact, the Loch is really used for nothing except for recreational boating and fishing. It is too cold to swim and there are very few fish. The biggest attraction here is “Nessie” and there have been 16 reported sightings of her already this year. Maybe not the myth that we think?
We head off to the Doune Castle near Stirling tomorrow. Many movies, including the Holy Grail and episodes of Outlander have been filmed here. Stirling is where the statue of William Wallace stands as well as the Stirling Castle. Should be another great day of entertainment and history!!
The British front line with red flags and the Scots with the blue flags. There were about 400 meters apart.
Memorial stones and a picture of the battlefield.
Our boat cruise on the Loch…
Here is some English Gaelic to try out.
Scotland is a beautiful country and the people are so friendly and welcoming, but sometimes it is a bit difficult to understand them. Col manages better than I do. More than once in a restaurant I have given the server the deer in the headlights look after she or he asked me a question. Apparently they even have that problem in the Scottish Parliament.