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28 Sept 2023

Philip makes Culloden history again

Written by Jacky Brookes
The Culloden opening re-enacted, by Scott Hay (left) and Philip Nicol (right) | Photo: Nikita McClymont
15 years after the Culloden Visitor Centre opening, one of its stars has joined the Trust, helping others to connect with the battlefield’s history.

A young man who helped officially open the Culloden Visitor Centre as a schoolboy 15 years ago has made a return, this time as a member of our team! Philip Nicol (21) has joined the visitor services team at Culloden, cared for by the Trust, where his forebears fought centuries ago.

As a six year old, Philip made history in 2008 when he cut the ribbon to declare open our new visitor centre, along with Scott Hay, aged 11 at the time. Philip from Inverness, and Scott from Kincraig, who are both descendants of soldiers who took up arms at the Battle of Culloden, were chosen to perform the honours after a family tree tracing competition.

Now Philip is again playing a big role at the historic site outside Inverness, by welcoming and engaging with the thousands of visitors who come to see where Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite dream ended with the bloody battle in 1746. In his important role now he has joined the Trust’s team at Culloden, Philip is helping visitors to connect with the story of the battle and the site and to understand the important conservation work carried out by our charity there.

To mark Philip becoming the latest team member with the conservation charity at Culloden, his colleagues recreated a photograph which was taken at the 2008 visitor building opening. He was joined by Scott (26) for the fun mock-up. Philip is pictured holding the very same targe that featured in the original photo, but this time Scott’s weapon is replaced by his treasured family bagpipes.

Scott appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow in June 2022 talking about his great grandfather’s pipes which were used on the battlefield in WW1, and which Scott still plays.

Philip recalled performing the opening ceremony back in April 2008, when he was a primary school pupil.

“‘My memory of the day has faded a bit now, but I remember lots of people making a fuss over me. I had memorised the story of my ancestors at Culloden by the end of the day as I had done so many interviews!’”
Philip Nicol

‘It felt like there were cameras everywhere me and Scott went. All the big media outlets in the area and across the country were there and it’s only recently I've been able to reminisce and appreciate how big a deal it was. It’s really cool looking back at the photos now that I’m working here.’

Gail Cleaver, Operations Manager at Culloden, said: ‘We had great fun recreating the photograph of that very important day for Culloden and the key role that both Philip and Scott played in it. It’s fantastic that they are still so engaged and passionate about their history. We are now delighted to have Philip as part of the team and are sure he will be a big asset in helping us to share the history and stories of Culloden, all for the love of Scotland.’

Culloden Battlefield and its war graves have been in the stewardship of the Trust for more than 80 years. The clash saw Jacobites under Prince Charles Edward Stewart defeated by government troops led by the Duke of Cumberland on 16th April 1746, the last hand to hand battle on British soil.

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