Places to see: Culloden


The National Trust provides Education Group Membership to home-educating families during school terms time. There are hundreds of properties and gardens for you to explore and learn from across England, Wales and Scotland. The only problem is which to visit first.

The Battle of Culloden (marked by the monument above) was one of the most famous battles between Scotland and England. Now managed by the Scottish National Trust, the battlefield of Culloden, on Drummossie Moor, is an excellent place to discover the story of the Jacobites, information about the battle itself, and its implications for the future of Scotland.

The Jacobite Rising was an attempt to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the Scottish House of Stuart to the British throne. Having failed in their attempt to gain support in England, the Jacobites had left London and retreated back to Scotland.

On 16th April 1746, the Battle of Culloden, which was to be the last ever pitched battle fought on British soil, saw an 8000 strong Hanoverian Government army led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, fight the 6000 man force of the Scots Charles Edward Stewart.

On a desolate moor near Inverness, in what was to become the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, Charles Stewart ignored warnings that the marshy, rough ground might favour the larger Government forces. Although slowed by the land, many of the Highlanders did manage to reach the Government lines, but in the fierce hand to hand fighting that followed, the new English tactic of bayoneting the exposed side of the man to the right rather than confronting the one directly in front had a catastrophic effect on the Scottish troops. The Highlanders fled, and when they did so, it was found that the entire battle had lasted less than an hour.

Culloden is now respected as a war grave, with more than 1,300 men losing their lives there, and is a place where children can get a feel of the human cost of battle. While visiting Culloden, you can take advantage of the marked paths around the battlefield. You can imagine the battle in progress by following the lines of red flags which indicate the front line of the government army, or the blue flags, which show the position of the Jacobites.

In the years before Culloden, the Jacobite plotters had met in secret. They had developed a number of Jacobite symbols so they could work out who was on their side without risking asking out loud. Visitors to Culloden can therefore enjoy cracking the code of Jacobite symbols as they go round the exhibition, such as a red rose and rose bud. The rose symbolises the exiled King James; (spoiler alert…) the buds are his heirs, Charles and Henry.

Amongst other treasures to discover, there is also a white cockade, a ribbon worn by many Jacobites, which is said to have been derived from the wearing of a white rose in earlier Jacobite risings, a moth, a butterfly, and an oak tree and acorns.

There are many learning opportunities at Culloden for home schooled children. For more details, email the National Trust of Scotland’s learning team Culloden@nts.org.uk.

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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