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24 Feb 2018

Discovering Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites

Jacobites at Culloden
Jacobites at Culloden
The story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and the Jacobites is embedded in Scotland’s rich and turbulent history, resonating across the centuries. From the gory victory at Killiecrankie in 1689 to the bloody defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, learn about the Jacobites and their ill-fated campaigns to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British throne.

1. Killiecrankie

Killiecrankie trees by reflection

‘But I met the devil and Dundee / On the braes o’ Killiecrankie, O!’

Penned by Robert Burns, ‘Killiecrankie’ is one of his most popular and rousing songs. It celebrates the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27 July 1689, when the tranquillity of this beautiful gorge was shattered by the first shots fired in the Jacobite cause. One government soldier escaped by making a spectacular jump across the River Garry at a spot known today as Soldier’s Leap. The visitor centre tells the story of the battle and the rich natural history of the Pass. You can also visit the nearby town of Dunkeld, site of the Battle of Dunkeld 21 August 1689.

2. Alloa Tower

Alloa Tower

Take a whistle-stop tour through 700 years of Scottish history at one of Scotland’s largest and oldest keeps, the ancestral home of the influential Erskine family, the Earls of Mar and Kellie. The Erskines were loyal supporters of several Stuart monarchs who spent part of their early lives at Alloa Tower, including Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI and I. The tower was also home to John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, the famous Jacobite who led the 1715 Rising.
As you explore the four floors, imagine the incredible stories that the walls and dungeon of this medieval tower could tell!

3. Culloden Batllefield

Soldiers at Culloden

This multi-award-winning visitor attraction will transport you back over 250 years to one of the bloodiest periods in Scottish history and to the final place where the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie fought to reclaim the throne. Listen to first-hand accounts leading up to 16 April 1746 when the course of British, European and world history changed forever. Experience the battle in the 360-degree immersion theatre and view breathtaking displays of artefacts and weaponry. Then, pick up one of the multi-lingual electronic guides and walk the battlefield, where over 1,200 Jacobites died in just one hour.

4. Brodie Castle

Brodie Castle

Alexander, 19th Brodie of Brodie, was Lord Lyon King of Arms and firmly on the side of the government (Hanoverian) forces. Although Brodie did not take an active part in the Battle of Culloden, family history tells of government troops being camped in the wood behind the castle, in an area known today as the ’45 Wood. Today, you are guaranteed a warm Highland welcome at this iconic Scottish tower house. Admire the impenetrable 16th-century guard chamber, flanked by a 17th-century wing and a Victorian extension. In spring the grounds display one of Scotland’s greatest daffodil collections.

5. Drum Castle

Drum Castle

Drum is a Jacobite castle. Alexander Irvine, 17th Laird of Drum fought alongside Bonnie Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden. After the defeat, both he and his younger brother Robert were listed as ‘never to be pardoned’. Robert died in prison in Edinburgh, but Alexander made his way back to Drum and was hidden by his sister (Mary Irvine) in a secret room to avoid capture from the Redcoats. The secret room was rediscovered by archaeologists in 2014 within the walls of the 14th-century Tower of Drum. Fighting alongside Alexander at Culloden was Drum’s head gardener, who subsequently made his fortune by collecting and selling booty from the fallen.

6. Fyvie Castle

Fyvie Castle

When the government troops marched through Fyvie on their way to Culloden, the Duke of Cumberland produced an orange and handed it to Lady Fyvie’s young son, remarking 

‘I can only hope that your son will one day prove as loyal an adherent to the House of Hanover as your brother has been to the House of Stuart’.

The boy grew up to become General William Gordon of Fyvie and proudly served both Britain and the House of Hanover. However, in 1766 he caused controversy when he had his portrait painted by Pompeo Batoni – he chose to be swathed in the illegal Huntly Gordon tartan of his mother and Jacobite uncles. This painting now hangs in the drawing room at Fyvie. Also look out for roses carved on the library fireplace – a Stuart symbol.

7. Castle Fraser

Castle Fraser

This castle was one of the strongholds of the Clan Fraser, who came out for the Jacobites in the ’45. Much of the castle survives as it was at this time. The 6th Lord Fraser’s eldest son commanded the Fraser Regiment at Culloden and was wounded on the battlefield. He was killed by a government soldier the following day. As you explore this magnificent fortified castle, look out for the Laird’s Lug, secret staircases, a spy hole, hidden trapdoors and Charles Mackenzie Fraser’s wooden leg!

8. Craigievar Castle

Craigievar Castle

Built in the 17th century, the castle boasts a fine collection of baroque furniture, original Jacobean woodwork and intricately decorated plaster ceilings. Taking pride of place in Craigievar’s manuscript cabinet is an Order of Battle for the Battle of Culloden. While there is no record of the Forbes family’s affiliation in the battle, the manuscript shows the Sempill family on the side of the government forces. The Forbes and Sempill families were joined by marriage in the 19th century. During the 1715 Rising, it is said that John Paton of Grandholm, an Aberdeenshire laird and Jacobite fugitive, hid at Craigievar Castle under the protection of the Forbes family.

9. Leith Hall

Leith Hall

Andrew Hay, John Leith II’s brother-in-law, was an ardent Jacobite and friend of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Andrew took part in the long march to Derby and was the first Scot to enter Manchester; at 7ft 2in tall, he must have been an imposing sight to his enemies. A number of artefacts gifted by the Prince to Andrew are on display at Leith Hall. After the defeat at Culloden, Andrew went into hiding before fleeing to mainland Europe. Although still a wanted man, he returned years later and was eventually pardoned by George III; the pardon is on display in Leith Hall’s military exhibition.

10. House of Dun

Plaster work at House of Dun

This atmospheric Georgian house was built for David Erskine, 13th Laird of Dun and a senior judge of the Scottish Court of Session – an employee of the Hanoverian government. However, David was also a distant cousin of John Erskine, the 6th Earl of Mar and fervent Jacobite. Become a Jacobite detective and help decipher the hidden meanings, veiled themes and subtle nuances throughout the house that hint at David Erskine’s clandestine loyalties – from the white roses (a symbol of the Jacobite cause) to a resplendent Poseidon on his sea chariot (representing the arrival from over the sea of Bonnie Prince Charlie).

11. Glencoe

Glencoe Three Sisters

This dramatic landscape of towering peaks and sweeping glens is both beautiful and mysteriously forbidding, and is regarded by many as a natural monument to the infamous massacre of February 1692 – one of the most tragic events in Scottish history. 38 people from the MacDonald clan, who had supported the 1689 Jacobite Rising, were killed by government troops. Nestling at the foot of the glen along the A82, the award-winning visitor centre is the perfect stop-off point to enjoy the awe-inspiring views. Pre-book a ranger-led walk or Land Rover safari and experience the glen and its wildlife from a totally different perspective.

12. Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan monument

Stand on the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie came ashore on 19 August 1745 and raised the Stuart standard. Thus began the final Jacobite Rising, which would end at Culloden. The lone kilted Highlander atop the 18m-high column is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought to defend the Highland way of life. Climb to the top of the monument and admire views that sweep across the mountains out to Loch Shiel. At the visitor centre, learn about the ’45 and this tumultuous chapter in Scotland’s history as well as enjoying spectacular views of the viaduct.

Start your Jacobite journey now