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30 Mar 2023

Culloden Anniversary 2023

A couple stand on Culloden Battlefield beneath a tall flagpole from which flies a red flag. Woodland can be seen at the side of the field.
This April we will commemorate the 277th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden through a series of events, including the annual service held by the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

For those who cannot attend in person, there will be online content as well, including a virtual tour of the battlefield. We will also launch our new exhibition, Culloden Memories, which has seen people from all over the world sending in their memories, photographs and mementos of the site – it covers the social history of the battlefield since 1746.

The anniversary weekend, on Fri 14–Sun 16 April, will include the annual commemoration service, led by the Gaelic Society of Inverness at the memorial cairn. The services first took place at the memorial cairn in 1925 and have continued, in one form or another, to this day. This year’s service takes place at 11am on 15 April and will include wreaths being laid and a piper.

The Battle of Culloden, which took place on 16 April 1746, was part of a civil war that would decide the ruler of Great Britain and ultimately have a global impact. It saw over 1,500 lives lost in the space of an hour. The anniversary service and commemoration events will bring people together in person and online to commemorate the fallen on both the Jacobite and Government sides.

Gail Cleaver, Operations Manager for the National Trust for Scotland, commented: ‘Culloden is a powerful and evocative historic site, and the story of the battle and its aftermath have global relevance and interest. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the site for our commemoration weekend and exploring the story of Culloden together – mindful not just of the events and legacies of the battle, but of the impacts of war and civil war on the lives of people around the world today.’

Find out more and book your tickets

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.

Timetable of 2023 events

Friday 14 April

  • Culloden Memories

11am BST (in-person and livestream)

Do you know the story of the battlefield after the battle? After the events of 16 April 1746, Culloden Battlefield became an internationally important site, and its value has grown over time. This presentation will cover the process of collecting stories from countless submissions from all over the world, will share some of our most exciting discoveries and will finish with first access to our new temporary exhibition in Leanach Cottage.

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  • Kahneman, Tversky and Prince Charlie: Cognitive biases that caused Culloden

1pm BST (in-person and livestream)

Presented by Michael Niven, Chair of the 1745 Association

This year’s lecture seeks to build on research by analysing seven key decisions that led to Culloden, assessing why they were taken, what alternatives might have been considered, and how we can avoid falling into similar psychological traps today. The lecture will draw on the seminal research of Nobel Laureates Herbert Simon, Maurice Allais, Daniel Kahneman, Richard Thaler and others to address these issues. The talk will be followed by the opportunity for questions and answers.

Saturday 15 April

  • Culloden Annual Service

11am BST (in-person at the memorial cairn)

Presented by the Gaelic Society of Inverness

  • Keynote lecture: Landscapes, Legacies and Traitors?

1pm BST (in-person and livestream)
Presented by Dr Darren Layne and Derek Alexander

Darren S. Layne will look at desertion and defection in the Jacobite Rising of 1745–46. Allegations of significant Jacobite desertions have long been suspected (and more recently have been examined), but little scholarly enquiry has been made into cases of defection by soldiers within the Government forces who were charged with quelling the Jacobite threat in Britain during the ’45. Archival evidence shows us that soldiers in British service – including loyalist Highlanders on campaign in Scotland – deserted their units in smaller numbers than their Jacobite rivals, but incidents of soldiers breaking ranks was still a problematic issue for British army officers and Hanoverian officials.

Derek Alexander will discuss the most recent Christopher Duffy maps and how, together with the latest archaeology, their understanding affects the knowledge of troop movements and placements from the battle.

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Sunday 16 April

  • Tactical virtual visit

12pm BST (online only)

Presented by a Culloden guide

Guided and narrated by one of our official tour guides, you will be ‘walked’ around the moor in ultra-immersive 360° video – as if you were really there. This special anniversary tactical tour will look at the tactics, terrain, training and lead-up to the battle, all of which affected the outcome and led to the great changes that swept across Scotland and the Highlands. Featuring drones, images, videos and our collection items, you’ll learn about the background to the conflict, before being taken into the heart of the action.

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  • The Aftermath and the Legacy

3.30pm BST (livestream only)

Featuring Professor Murray Pittock, Dr Matthew Keagle and Dr Leith Davis

Join us for an informal conversation with Jacobite scholars from Scotland, Canada and North America to discuss the aftermath and legacy of the battle of Culloden. Our speakers will discuss the connections their institutions and interests bring to the Culloden story, its diaspora and the enduring legacy of the Jacobite Risings.

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Select the images below to find out a little more about our expert speakers.

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