The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) (16 April 1746) was the final clash between the French-supported Jacobites and the Hanoverian British government in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Culloden dealt the Jacobite cause—to restore the House of Stuart to the throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain—a decisive defeat.
The Jacobites—the majority of them Highland Scots, supported the claim of James Francis Edward Stuart (the "Old Pretender") to the throne; the government army, under the Duke of Cumberland, younger son of the Hanoverian sovereign, King George II, supported his father's cause. It too included Highland Scots, as well as Scottish Lowlanders and English troops.
The aftermath of the battle was brutal and earned the victorious general the nickname "Butcher" Cumberland. Charles Edward Stuart eventually left Britain and went to Rome, never to attempt to take the throne again. Civil penalties were also severe. New laws attacked the Highlanders' clan system, and Highland dress was outlawed.
The Memorial Cairn
The 20-foot high memorial was erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881. It bears the inscription:
The Battle of Culloden
Was fought on this moor
16 April 1746
The Graves of the Gallant Highlanders
Was fought for
Scotland and Prince Charlie
Are marked by the names of their clans
Embedded in the cairn is a stone bearing the inscription: ‘Culloden 1746 – E.P. fecit 1858’
E.P. was Edward Power, an enthusiastic Jacobite; the stone was to be part of a cairn which was never finished, but which was at the time the only memorial on the battlefield.
The Keppoch Stone
It is said to mark the spot where the Chief Alasdar MacDonell of Keppoch fell mortally wounded at the head of his clansmen. It is possible that he is buried here, but the testimony of his son and others is that he was carried from the field and died.
Information near the stone reads: This stone traditionally marks the spot where Alasdar MacDonell, 16th of Keppoch, was wounded leading his clan during the battle. He later died in a nearby bothy. Seobhag fiorghlan na n-ealtainn
The Irish Memorial
The Irish Stone was erected in 1963 by the Military Society of Ireland to the picturesquely named ‘Wild Geese’. These were the Irish soldiers in French service that fought for the Prince. They did great service covering the Jacobite retreat and their commander Brigadier Stapleton was mortally wounded. Because they were in the service of the French Crown they could not therefore be held to be traitors to King George and so Cumberland accorded them status as prisoners-of-war.
The inscription on the stone may be freely translated as: ‘The breed of Kings, sons of Mileadh eager warriors and heroes’
The French Stone
Beside the Irish Stone, this memorial is the most recent; erected in 1994 by ‘The White Cockade Society’. It commemorates the men in the French service at Culloden and particularly those of the Scots Royals.
Information at the location reads: This stone commemorates the French Regiment (Royal Scots) who served under Lord John Drummond. They stood on the second line of the Prince's army and fought a brave rearguard action.
The Cumberland Stone
At the eastern extreme of the battlefield, beyond the Culloden Moor Inn, is a huge boulder on which the Duke of Cumberland is said to have stood while directing the battle. It certainly would have afforded a good viewpoint, but in fact the Duke was on horseback during the battle. He may, however, have surveyed the ground from here earlier. Another tradition has it that he snatched a hasty meal here afterwards.
The English Stone
A stone on which is carved ‘Field of English: They were buried here’. No exact site of graves or trenches has ever been recorded. The government casualties were officially given as 310 killed or wounded; later this total was increased to 364. The term ‘English’ is loosely used as is often the case in connection with Culloden. Four of Cumberland’s sixteen infantry battalions were Scottish.
West of the English Stone is The Well of the Dead. Here was found the body of the heroic Alexander MacGillivray of Dunmaglass (Alasdair Ruach Na Feile) who led the men of Clan Chattan with such ferocity in the charge that he broke through Cumberland’s first line of defence before he was killed.
The Graves of the Clans
The green mounds confirm the local belief that although heather grows nearby it will not grow over the graves. The headstones bear simply the names of the clans. These were erected by Duncan Forbes in 1881, and doubt has been cast on their authenticity. The dead, however, were buried by local people, pressed into this task by the victors. They would know some of those they interred, others would be identified by their clan badges, usually a plant or sprig worn in the bonnet; and as the oral tradition of the Gael is strong it is likely that the information available to Duncan Forbes was accurate.
It seems probable that the Mackintoshes had the highest number of dead. At 54 yards theirs is the longest trench.
About 300 yards north-west of the graveyard beside the path leading from east to west, another stone marks the burial place of the men of Clan Donald, who fought on the left of the Princes army.
Information close to the sight reads: This headstone marks the traditional site of a grave locally belived to be the resting place of the MacDonalds who fell in action during the battle. This stone was erected by members of the Clan Donald Society 'to honour all MacDonalds killed at Culloden and in the battle elsewhere'. - 'A chlannaibh chuinn, cuimhnichibh.'
There is no official figure for the dead of the Jacobite army. A conservative figure for those killed in action or later murdered on the battlefield is 1000. Few wounded survived.