Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16th....

This is the anniversary of the battle of Culloden - the final battle between the armies of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the soldiers of King George. It ended in a tragic defeat for the Jacobites, a defeat from which they would never recover, and as for the Scottish clans who fought for their Prince... Well, in retaliation, the British occupied the Highlands for many years after, banning the wearing of the tartan, the speaking of Gaelic, the playing of the pipes, the carrying of a weapon - even one so insignificant as a sgian dubh. The clan-system was destroyed, and many Scots fled the country for a new life in France or America.

My sisters and I were in Scotland last year about this time, and took a trip up to Culloden. It is a fascinating place - a great wide plain, with the British and Scottish lines marked with flags. The Scots should never have engaged the British there - it was guerrilla fighting they excelled at, and it which gave them the edge they needed to go against the bigger and technologically advanced might of King George's army. Culloden offered them no chance for that, particularly as they were tired and dispirited from a long, hard winter campaign. For all that, the Scots, out-numbered and out-gunned as they were, managed to break through the British lines, and put up a tremendous fight.

It was an odd feeling to stand behind the low, ancient stone wall beside the flags of the Scottish line, and look out across the Moor to where the British would have been. There is a distinctive atmosphere to Culloden. We were there on a bright, warm spring day, so it cannot be put down to Scotland's notoriously rainy weather. It is a wild, empty place and so quiet that the wind seems loud. There are large stones along the path that runs from one end of the battle field to the other, and they are inscribed with the names of all the clans who fought there, and at the far end a single stone cottage which survived the battle - Old Leanach Cottage, which is very small, but has such thick walls that it took a shot of cannon-fire, and had nothing to show for it but a scar on the side


Treskie said...

Ooooh. I hadn't realized.

Amy said...

Wow...I suddenly miss Scotland. The Scotts are awesome! Good post, Maria. I'm glad to see you online a little again. :-)