Outlander Blog 1 – Culloden
In celebration of the return to our screens of Outlander in its 4thseries, we’re going back in time throughout October, to the 18thcentury! Whether or not you’re already an ardent fan of Diana Gabaldon and her time-travelling heroine and her Highland beau Jamie, you’ll be fully immersed in all things Highland and Jacobite by the time the new series starts on November 4th. Or as Clan Fraser of Lovat might say – Je Suis Prest!
As we’ve mentioned before, much of the action of the books and series is set in this part of the Highlands, with places like Inverness, Ruthven Barracks and of course Culloden all having played a part in the real Jacobite rising. But many of the scenes in the TV series were also filmed nearby, with the Highland Folk Museum doubling as a Highland village for much of one of the episodes.
Come with us throughout October as we explore more of the history and real life stories behind the hit series, and discover how a real-life Jamie Fraser has a part to play in the history of Handpicked Lodges itself!
If you enjoy standing in the footsteps of history, there is possibly no more stirring place to be in the whole of Scotland than the field of Culloden, now run by the National Trust for Scotland. The site is around half an hour’s drive from Aviemore, but make sure you give over an entire morning or afternoon to your visit, as there’s so much to see inside the museum as well as walking the battlefield itself.
The visitor centre cleverly takes you along the timeline of events fatefully leading up to the final battle, which incredibly only lasted an hour and took the lives of 1600 men, 1500 of them Jacobites. One side of the walkway is devoted to what was happening on the side of the crown, and the opposite side details what unfolded at exactly the same time on the Jacobite side. Artefacts and dress are on display throughout the centre, and a really impressive array of weaponry too in the final battle room.
One of the highlights of the visit is the immersion experience, where you are surrounded on all four sides by a projection of a re-enactment of the battle – a surprisingly emotive experience which stays with you as you walk the windswept field later on.
On leaving the visitor centre you walk straight out onto the battlefield itself, on the Crown side of the battle. You can see the spots where the different regiments formed up and on the other side, stones mark the places where the different Highland clans stood in battle formation. There are also stones to make the places where the majority of each clan fell in battle. Many visitors place flowers or heather as a mark of respect for their ancestors or just as a general tribute to those Highlanders who fell fighting for a doomed cause that they passionately believed in, during the last pitched battle ever to take place on British soil.
The guide available to buy when you arrive is a great companion to your visit, and there is a bookshop on site with a good selection of reading material on the Jacobite rising and general Scottish history. But it’s definitely well worth doing some background research before coming. A great little guide is “Culloden 1746: Fight for the Throne” by Lomond books, £3.99 on Amazon. For more serious historical readers, “Culloden” by John Prebble is generally considered the masterpiece on telling the story of the common men who fought on both sides. (£10.99, Amazon.)
Note: Dogs are welcome on the battlefield as long as they are kept under close control and any mess is picked up. However you can't take them inside the visitor centre.