The day was dark and foreboding and the heather-clad moor was wet and boggy. It was 16th April 1746 and a battle was about to commence that would change the face of Scotland.
The Battle of Culloden sends thoughtful reflection through the minds of true Scotsmen the world over.
That last battle fought on British soil – which took place six miles east of Inverness – has been wrongly portrayed as a battle between the English and the Scots.
In actual fact, it was part civil war and part holy war between the Catholic Stuarts and Protestants.
Under the leadership of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobites and Highland Clansmen were defeated in the battle and that marked the end of the Stuart cause to regain the throne of Scotland.
The battle – including the preliminary firing of cannons – lasted under an hour and, by two o’clock, it was all over. The Duke of Cumberland’s infantry moved forward and took possession of the battlefield before receiving the order to “Rest on your Arms”.
The retreat of the Jacobites was no more than a rout with Highlanders fleeing in all directions and many taken by the sword on the road to Inverness.
Prince Charlie was hunted but, luckily, he escaped with the help of his loyal supporters. This included Roderick Mackenzie, in Glenmoriston, who disguised himself as the prince to mislead the soldiers on his trail.
Sadly, Roderick died in the Glen and, today, there is a monument and cairn to this man who laid his life down for his King.
Connection with the Outlander stories
This year on the 16th April, Highlanders and Jacobites will come from all over the world to remember their ancestors who died on that fateful day and reflect on how the consequences shaped the Scotland we have today.
There is another more recent connection. In the “Outlander” books of Diana Gabaldon – now made into the popular TV series – the handsome Highlander Jamie Fraser is a soldier and landowner. He is also a follower of the Jacobite cause who has suffered at the hands of Protestant English soldiers.
The female character is Claire Randall, an Englishwoman who travels back in time from the 1940s to the Jacobite Risings.
Many of the locations in the books are featured around Loch Ness and Inverness, Culloden, and the nearby Clava Cairns. This is another reason many people visit this area of Scotland.
But, fiction aside, the fact remains that last battle of Culloden was decisive in the history of Scotland. Our thoughts drift back to those brave Highlanders who fought and fell on the 16th April, 1746.