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Culloden Battlefield

Flag marking government line at Culloden Moor
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Flag marking government line at Culloden Moor

Located 6 miles (9 km) east of Inverness, Culloden Battlefield was the site of the final bloody defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 uprising and the effective end of the Jacobite cause. It was also the last battle to be fought on British soil.

Charles had landed in August 1745 and raised his standard at Glenfinnan, convinced he would receive enormous support, but rising prosperity after the 1707 Union ensured there was much less than he had expected. Following initial successes, including a triumphant entry into Edinburgh and victory at Prestonpans, the Prince convinced Jacobite commander Lord George Murray to march south into England. Supposed English enthusiasm for the Stewart restoration never materialised and by the time the Jacobite army reached Derby, with a government army preparing to meet them, Charles was persuaded to retreat. Despite victories at Clifton (in the English Lake District) and at Falkirk, the Jacobite commanders knew they were much weaker than the Duke of Cumberland's army which relentlessly pursued them and they withdrew, tired and hungry, towards Inverness. Murray tried to persuade the Prince to fight a guerrilla war from the hills, but was dismissed for his efforts and Charles proposed a battle which revealed his poor tactical skills; the site was unsuitable, his army out-numbered, tired and poorly armed. Thus, on the 16th April, 1746, the Jacobites were routed, with more than 1000 dead, although the Bonnie Prince escaped.

Had the killing stopped with the battle, perhaps it would have been considered reasonable, however, Cumberland's brutality saw almost the same number murdered as they tried to escape and ushered in a time of repression of the Highland way of life. Thus, Culloden has become a potent symbol of Scottish nationalism, despite the fact that more Scots fought for the Hanoverian army. Today the battlefield and its memorials are preserved by the National Trust for Scotland, who provide an exhibition in a visitor centre, which opened in 2007 at a cost of £9.5 million. HM Queen Elizabeth II visited the battlefield and visitor centre in 2009.

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