Culloden Moor

Four hundred years after Bannockburn, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Highlanders fought the English, as well as their own countrymen, on the moor at Culloden.   It was there that Prince Charlie lost all hope of gaining the throne of his Stewart ancestors.

The wide green fields at Culloden give little hint of the tragedy that transpired there nearly three centuries ago.  The Highland army was no more than 5,000 in number, had been two days without sleep, and had scarcely eaten in the same span of time.  Then, what they

 

didn't know before arriving was that the man who farmed there had built extensive turf dikes, which held the recent rains and turned the fields a boggy mess on which foot soldiers were at a distinct disadvantage.  The English victory at Culloden was hardly one of which to boast, and their behavior afterward appalling.  The English used their muskets as clubs to dash out the brains of the wounded and sprinkled one another with Scottish blood.  Then, they sat and casually dined upon the field where the dead still lay.

 

This restored, seemingly insignifi-

cant farmer's cottage  symbolizes the small things that can help determine the fate of a nation.  The farmer's turf dikes held back the rains and bogged down the fatigued, famished and horseless Scots.

                  

An 1881 cairn memorializes the Highlanders who died at Culloden in 1746.

 

 

 

In the 1820s, rough memorial stones were placed over the graves of the clans.  There are stones for MacDonalds and for others, but the "Mixed Clans" stone marks the burial site of hundreds of Highlanders whose clans were unknown.

 

After Culloden, everything about the Highland way of life was banned - the claymore, the bagpipe, and even the wearing of tartans.  While one may lament the end of a way of life and abhor the brutality with which the Highlanders were treated, it was providential that they lost this, their last great battle for Scotland.  Their would-be sovereign would have imposed on the entire nation a single religion.  Fortunately, the ban on tartans was lifted in 1782, and in 1843 Queen Victoria appointed the first "personal piper to the Sovereign" of Great Britain.  Today, Scotland again has her own Parliament to govern domestic affairs, and it is hoped that one day the political battle for full Scottish independence may be won.

I returned to the fields of glory, where the green grass an' flowers grow,
An' the wind softly sings the story of the brave lads of long ago.

In the great glen, they lie a-sleeping, where the cool waters gently flow,
An' the grey mist is sadly weeping for the brave lads of long ago.

See the tall grass is there a-waving as their flags were so long ago;
With their heads high, were forward braving, marching onwards to meet the foe.

March no more, my soldier laddie, there is peace where there once was war.
Sleep in peace, my soldier laddie.  Sleep in peace now, the battle's o'er.
 

(Author Unknown)

The Great Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

From Culloden, we turned west into Inverness-shire, then south again, and drove along Loch Ness.  The loch is described in one place as an "endless streak of grey" and not worth visiting.  Ness is the largest of three lochs in the great glen of Urquhart, stretching for sixty miles.  However, the person who described it so demeaningly must never have seen it when the sun shone, nor  visited the spots where its shoreline is loveliest.   We do not recommend it for monster sighting,  but for its beauty and history.


The Great
Loch Ness


A Pensive John

at the Loch


Gorse on the Bank
at Loch Ness

The Only Monster
in the Loch


At the Foot of
Urquhart Castle

 Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle dates to the thirteenth century.  It changed hands repeatedly and  was  controlled  several times by MacDonald, Lord of the Isles.


 

 

The Tower House, which is five stories high, was added in the sixteenth century as the lord’s private residence.

Leaving Urquhart Castle, we drove into stormy Highland weather ...

Ben Nevis

It rained for about ten minutes and suddenly was over, as we faced the highest peak in all of Britain.  Ben Nevis stands at 4,409 feet.  In comparison, however, the highest peak in America's Appalachians is Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet and the highest peak in the Rockies is Mount Elbert at 14,433 feet.  While Ben Nevis is no giant among the world's mountains, it is an impressive sight among the Highlands of Scotland.  The Nevis range in fact offers a number of distinctive scenes:

   

This peak in the Nevis Range creates a spectacular back yard to the home at its foot.  Loch Linnhe, beneath it, creates an equally impressive front.  From here, we drove a bit farther and came at last to the Glen of Weeping, the site of a 1692 massacre that defiled Highland honor, outraged a nation, and became a British political scandal ...

Glen Coe


The Three Sisters

The MacDonalds and the Campbells had been bitter enemies for two centuries when opportunity for revenge presented itself to the Campbells.  Clan chiefs, after their defeat by King William, were offered pardons in exchange for oaths of allegiance.  Delayed by winter weather and other circumstances, Alasdair, 12th Chief of the MacDonalds of Glen Coe, was five days late arriving at the place appointed for swearing allegiance.  He was, nonetheless, allowed to take the oath.  Returning home to Glen Coe, he and his clan believed that all was well ...

Several weeks later, Captain Robert Campbell arrived with two companies of soldiers and asked MacDonald for refuge from a winter storm.  Shelter and food were given, and the soldiers remained at Glen Coe for ten days.  The Highland code of hospitality dictated that Campbell say and do no harm while sheltered beneath MacDonald’s roof.  Yet, while he and his men remained at Glen Coe, they in fact were awaiting orders.  When orders came, they rose in the night and set out to kill everyone – men, women, and children – under the age of seventy.  About thirty were slain while three hundred fled to the hills.  Many who escaped the sword died of cold and starvation.

The Three Sisters ~ Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach, and Aonach Dubh ~ stand as lonely sentinels on the west side of Glen Coe, guarding the graves of MacDonald, his sons, and others.  Those who survived the slaughter faded into obscurity.  MacDonald of Glen Coe is no more.

Some died in their beds at the hand of the foe.
Some fled in the night an' were lost in the snow.
Some lived to accuse him who struck the first blow,
But gone was the house o' MacDonald.

Oh, cruel is the snow that sweeps Glen Coe
And covers the grave o' Donald.
Oh, cruel is the foe that raped Glen Coe
An' murdered the house o' MacDonald.

(Jim McLean)

MacDonald of Glen Coe

 

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