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15 Apr 2020

Culloden Anniversary 2020 – Ceann-bhliadhna Chùl Lodair 2020

Wreaths and bunches of flowers are displayed at the base of a large memorial stone. The stone has the following text inscribed on it: The Battle of Culloden as fought on this moor 16th April 1746.  A group of people can just be seen standing to the side of the stone.
Wreaths laid at the memorial cairn in 2019
On 16 April 1746 a battle took place on Drumossie Moor that would echo around the world. It was here that the Jacobites lost their final stand against Government forces, and the quest to restore the Stuarts to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland was effectively ended.

This was very much a civil war that pitted families and neighbours against one another. Atrocities were committed by people on both sides, and the impact of the battle is, in some places, still felt today.

The story of Culloden plays a large part in the story of the Gaels and that of the Highlands – the Act of Proscription that came in the aftermath of the battle had a significant impact on the lives of people in Scotland. It hit many communities hard, banning the wearing of ‘Highland clothes’ for men, owning weapons and the playing of the pipes (as a weapon of war), as well as dictating who was an appropriate person to teach children. Shortly after, clan estates were seized and given to the Crown.

In following years, people began to visit the site to see where this significant event took place. By 1867 a guidebook to the site had been written by Peter Anderson, a resident of Culloden. In 1871, Comunn Gàidhlig Inbhir Nis, the Gaelic Society of Inverness, was founded – their purpose was to ‘cultivate the language, poetry and music of the Scottish Highlands … furthering the interests of the Gaelic-speaking people’. Not long after, in 1881, Duncan Forbes erected the cairn and grave markers that can be seen on the site today. 

A large stone cairn stands at the end of a gravel path in the middle of a field.
The memorial cairn at Culloden Battlefield

While the Gaelic Society initially focused on the promotion of language and music, by 1924 they were active on Culloden Moor. The Society worked to repair and improve the monuments that Duncan Forbes had placed there. According to the annuals of the Society, the buildings and monuments had been in a state of disrepair for 18 years. It was around then that Peter Anderson’s guidebook to the site was reprinted, because of an increased interest in the battle and the site.

The first commemoration ceremony was hosted by the Gaelic Society on 18 April 1925, and they have continued every year since. In 1931 a portion of the land associated with the battle was given to the National Trust for Scotland to care for on behalf of the nation, but the Commemoration has always been delivered in partnership with Comunn Gàidhlig Inbhir Nis.

Over the years the event has attracted people from across Scotland and indeed the rest of the world. It has grown as an event – in 2019 it was estimated that more than 3,000 people attended to pay their respects.

A long procession of people walk along a path through a battlefield, towards a large stone cairn. Some of the people carry flags and banners. Others wear traditional Highland dress.
A procession during the commemoration ceremony in 2019

This year, of course, will be different.

We’re asking people not to come to Culloden.

Instead of pipes and flags, the bustle of people and the singing of Gaelic psalms, the field will be quiet. The skylarks will swoop across the moor and the cattle will low. The day will still be special but, rather than coming to the site, we’re asking people instead to pause, reflect and remember.

Next year, we can hopefully come together again.


National Trust for Scotland
Cean-Bhliadhna Chul Lodair 2020
Culloden Anniversary 2020

While we cannot be at Culloden today, our thoughts are with those who lost their lives.
Ged nach urrainn dhuinn a bhith an lathair aig Chul Lodair an-diugh, tha ar smuaintain leis an t-sluagh a chall a bheathan.

Video editing
Melanie Pagny - Visitor Services Assistant (Engagement)
Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre - National Trust for Scotland
Mo Run Geal Og - Fiona Mackenzie

Our thanks to // Taing do
The Gaelic Society of Inverness // Comunn Gaidhlig Inbhir Nis
Fiona Mackenzie // Fiona NicChoinnich

For the love of Scotland

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