If you have been reading this blog for anytime this past year, you've probably recognized that I love the book series, Outlander. It's quite honestly one of my favorite books I've ever read, and it's full of characters you come to love so much. It's just such a great series, and I can't speak highly enough of it.
When we were planning on this trip, we knew we wanted to take a mini day trip out of London. After looking at areas close to London, we decided to take a couple days and travel up to Scotland. I had been to Edinburgh before, and really loved the city and Scottish people in general. Anna had been to Ireland before, and she really loved the smaller towns of Ireland. So, we combined both of what we loved in our past travels, and decided to go to a small Scottish town: Inverness, Scotland.
If you've read Outlander then you know a huge part of the book 1 takes place in Inverness. Needless to say, I was thrilled to walk around the "same places" that Claire had in the 50s. Okay, I realize it's a fictional book, but still. :)
One of the most pivotal moments in the book that is carried on throughout the series takes place at Culloden Moor. Inverness is only about 30 minutes away from Culloden Moor, so we decided to go and check it out. It had rained a lot the night before, which caused some of the roads to be completely flushed out. After realizing our road was washed out, we had a brief little encounter with the police about a new direction to take, and we finally found our way.
The Battle of Culloden was not only an important part of Outlander, but an important piece of history for Scotland. During the 1740s, a large part of the Highlanders were known as Jacobites. Jacobites believed that Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") was the rightful heir to the throne. They held earlier uprisings to fight their cause, but were often defeated. The Battle of Culloden proved to be their last, and worst defeat, and would forever alter Scotland's political relationship with the English.
The Battle of Culloden is often known as one of the bloodiest battles in Scotland. The Scottish Highlanders used to start their battles with a Highland charge, which was when their whole army would run at their enemy yelling battles cries and beating on their targe. When they finally reached their enemy, their enemy was most often stunned and surprised, and therefore not as well equipped to fight back. The Highlanders also often fought with their broadswords and dirks, instead of muskets, which made them ruthless and their battles bloody. However, during this battle, the English had known about their tactics, used the field to their advantage, and were able to surprise some of the clans based on their location. The battle was less than an hour, and almost 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded, while the English suffered only 300 casualties.
I thought Culloden Moor would only be a field with a museum ran by one older lady. I was completely wrong! The field was huge, and the museum not only had so many artifacts of the Battle and Uprising, but the museum flow was chronologically told from both the Scottish and the English sides. It was interesting to see both sides of the Battle, what led up to it, and the key players that helped form the events.
At the end, they had a couple museum employees show us how they used their weapons, and we could feel just how heavy they were - easily 10-20 pounds each! Definitely not for the light soldier.
After learning a bit more about the specific weapons, we were then able to go to the field. This field is huge, and relatively flat. There were blue and red flags set up throughout the field to show where the starting lines for the English (red) and the Jacobites (blue) were. Before you went outside, the museum gave you a GPS headset that you could play while you were in the field. Each milestone would bring up more information about the Battle, Culloden, and more.
In the 1800s, the man who owned Culloden Moor commissioned to build a memorial cairn and headstones to mark the mass graves of the clans. How they know where each specific clan was, I'm not 100% sure. Highlanders love to create and tell stories, so I'm sure this information was passed down generation to generation by the Highlander families.
I really appreciated how the museum was laid out. You had to go through the story of the Battle first before you could go to the field. When I studied abroad in London, one of my classes was on Museums. Until I studied it, I never really thought there was a rhyme or reason to the lay out of a museum, or to the specific artifacts shown. I thought the objects were grouped together because they were connected to each other, either by a person or event, which is usually true. That class really taught me that each museum is there to tell a story, and it's up to the curators and museum workers to tell you that story without necessarily speaking to you. I was really impressed with how Culloden Moor told the story of the battle.
While the Outlander books have been popular for a couple decades now, the mass population are still unfamiliar with stories. This will change soon as Outlander is now a series on Starz that has won a couple awards and garnered some amazing press for its' first season. I was really happy to be able to see this before the massive influx of Outlander fans arrived and took away some of the specialty.