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” The seeds of rebellion will be plucked for ever” – Why Culloden Matters

“Our blood is still our fathers, And ours the valour of their hearts….”

‘S i’n fhuil bha ‘n cuisl’ ar sinnsreadh, ‘S an innsgin a bha ‘nan aigne…”


By Fiona Grahame

This November in  Orkney and across Europe people will remember the ending of The Great War (1914 – 1918). One hundred years have passed since Peace was declared leaving in its wake millions dead or with horrific injuries. There was a refugee crisis across many parts of Europe as communities were left devastated. Many succumbed to disease and starvation.

As we know the ‘Peace’ that was negotiated eventually led to another world conflict even more horrific. One of the positive results of that second world war was the founding of what would eventually become the European Union.

“You have to know the past to understand the present.” Carl Sagan

The Battle of Culloden took place on 16th of April 1746.

Culloden

By by Marshall, H. E.

It was the last pitched battle to take place on British soil and it is estimated that around 1600 – 2000 died on the battlefield – most of those on the Jacobite side.

The battle was short but the repercussions were not as survivors and wounded were hunted down. The repression was brutal – today they would be referred to as war crimes.

It was a pivotal moment not just in what happened to the Scottish nation in its aftermath but also as to how the British Empire was to develop.

An area of the battlefield is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland who also have a visitor centre there. But of course, the battle field was much larger than that and today 16 luxury homes are being built on that wider site.

The National Trust of Scotland opposed the building of the homes as did many people. They formed a campaign group and set up a petition as more applications are put in for further developments on the site. The group want the Scottish Government to step in and protect the wider area.

You can read about their campaign here: STOP! NO HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AT CULLODEN BATTLEFIELD!

The construction by Kirkwood Homes was granted planning permission by Highland Council. The development includes all the usual infrastructure you would expect – roads, lighting, drainage and fibre broadband.

Now maybe you think, so what, 16 luxury homes where a battle took place over 273 years ago, what does that matter?

It matters to those who have ancestors who were slaughtered on that field (on both sides). People still visit the site who are descendants of those who died – just as anyone would visit a memorial garden or cemetery to the two world wars. To be remembered and to remember – it’s an essential part of the human condition as encapsulated so well in Bernie Bell’s Forgetting

It also matters because of the significance of that battle in what was to happen to Scotland after it. It is a site a national importance.

In the immediate years after the battle ‘God Save the King’ was adopted as the ‘national’ anthem which must be one of the few national anthems which praise a monarch rather than a people or a country. Lands were appropriated, supporters were executed, many went into exile,The Disarming Act of 1746 was passed and the wearing of Highland dress was banned.

” the seeds of rebellion will be plucked for ever”.

From then on Scotland was a changed nation. Clearances took place first in the fertile Lowlands and then the Highlands. People cleared off the land with thousands forced to emigrate or move to the large industrial towns and cities.

Those who fell on that fateful day on Drummossie Moor could not have foreseen the future implications of losing that one battle. But they believed not only in their cause of a Stuart Dynasty but of the right of Scotland to choose who should be their king and not to have one imposed upon them from England. It was a Scotland which in their eyes was still proud, defiant and independent of mind.

When we build on a place as important as Culloden so a few can make money we cheapen the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for a cause which believed in the nationhood of Scotland and the rights of Scots to choose their monarch.

To continue to build on this site would be a national disgrace. 

Culloden by David Dixon

In 1787, a mere 42 years after the battle , Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns visited Culloden Moor. What he saw and felt there stayed with him, just like it affects visitors to this day, for in later years he was to write The Lovely Lass O’ Inverness and The Highland Widows Lament.

The lovely lass o’ Inverness,
Nae joy nor pleasure can she see;
For, e’en to morn she cries, alas!
And aye the saut tear blin’s her e’e.

Drumossie moor, Drumossie day-
A waefu’ day it was to me!
For there I lost my father dear,
My father dear, and brethren three.

Their winding-sheet the bluidy clay,
Their graves are growin’ green to see;
And by them lies the dearest lad
That ever blest a woman’s e’e!

Now wae to thee, thou cruel lord,
A bluidy man I trow thou be;
For mony a heart thou has made sair,
That ne’er did wrang to thine or thee!


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12 replies »

  1. And if they start to build those ‘luxury homes’ – what might they find? A battlefield holds memories, physical as well as emotional.
    I don’t see how permission has been given for this. It’s not that long ago.
    I’ve never visited Culloden – a friend told me of his visit there, and, to be honest, I’m not sure if I could cope with it. The impression I got from what he said, is that part of the ‘feel’ of the place, is the emptiness – the wide area of quite bleak, heathy land. Empty because – not only the fighters were killed, the folk of a wide area, were also slaughtered. It’s the whole, wide area, that counts, not just the bit where the battle raged most strongly. It’s not even just that, it’s something to do with……………the whole area, and how that links to Scotland, and that last fight. I’m not explaining this very well. The battle, covered a certain area, quite a wide area. Then Butcher Cumberland’s men ranged out, slaughtering. The area is remote anyway, but folk did live there – after the battle, folk didn’t live there.
    To me, ( and I’m floundering a bit for words as I get involved in what I’m writing) – to me……it encompasses a whole idea, a wide-ranging idea. That bit of land, holds a lot, but it also stretches out, to a wider area, then, physically and emotionally, to an even wider area – to Scotland
    Which, really, is kind of what Fiona is saying – a lot more clearly than I am.
    I’ve never been there, but Steev told me of it, and showed me his photos…..a wide, bleak, empty land. And why is it empty?

    ‘Luxury homes’ – my arse.

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    • You have spoken quite eloquently my feelings towards this travesty. Scotland is the land of my ancestors, my clan has a stone in Culloden. I have never been to the home of my forefathers, I have never been to Culloden. But my heart is there. I keep putting out on the net from here in the US the the travesty is going on on the Culloden Battlefield. It angers me greatly.

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  2. I visited the battlefield about 2 years ago.
    Crushing sadness was my main memory, and I’m Irish, not Scots, but we have many similar tragedies
    and it was impossible not to be moved by the
    common thread with our Gaelic cousins.
    Building on that site is an outrage, and I wish
    despondency on those prepared to disregard the
    utter misery drenching that soil.

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  3. Storm the fences. Cut them (fences) down. Chain yourselves to the earth moving machines! Be the Scots that God made you to be! Will you be arrested? YES. will it be worth it? YES! Remember Sir William Wallace and Our King Robert the Bruce! Fight like True Scotsman!

    Albion Guppy

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  4. yes over the centuaries thousands have died to keep our heritage and greedy builders move in to steal their very graves disgraceful it is sacred should never be allowed so sad

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  5. Profoundly significant land is being desecrated. Were it not for that battle and its outcome, I wonder if my ancestors would’ve left their Highland homes. This is about the moral equivalent of the pirates who’ve cut up the hulks of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse for scrap metal. The Government of the UK seemed quite put out about that; surely someone in officialdom can see the parallel? Or is money thicker than blood?

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  6. The property should have been heritage listed – then no one could have built on it. Some are saying it’s only 16, yeah it might be at the moment but once in it’s not going to stop at 16 houses. What would the point be? Next thing you know these houses need shops and a pub. Give it a few years and the whole area will be built over.
    I remember a huge outcry when there was talk of building on French soil that soldiers had died on in WW1.

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  7. Emotional claptrap and mainly from people who’ve never set eyes on the place. It’s already protected and the “homes on the battlefield ” are nonwhere near the site. The battle at culloden turned into a rout, so in essence the battlefield would cover half of inverness as jacobite fled and were cut down or rooted out all over the shop.
    The main battlefield is protected, it has fences and a visitor centre. It’s ingrained in highland folklore and culture.
    How many of those getting upset about this could tell you (without asking Google) the second last battle of the rebellion was fought the night before and hundred were killed? Where’s the national trust at that battlefield? The visitor centre? The coachloads of tourists?

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  8. iv just spoke to a friend in the Scottish office today our national trust of Scotland sold the ground as they a stuck for cash be he did say every one can appeal this the the highland planning and all work must be stopped until this is been looked into

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