One of our major “must see’s” while here in Scotland was Culloden, the site of the last battle fought on British soil, and the last battle for independence in Scotland. There are reams of historic writings about the events leading to Culloden, the reasons, the strategies, and the ultimate defeat of Bonny Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army on that freezing cold day in April 1746, therefore I won’t try to coherently describe all the details in this short post. What I will say is that while walking over the fields and hearing the story of that bloody battle told in a strong Scottish voice raised above the sound of the wind…it chilled my heart and brought tears to my eyes.
We walked across the grassy moors, past the lines of rock walls and along the boggy areas of standing water and thick growths of heather, from the line of the 8,000 Government troops (the Whigs) to the line of the 5,500 Jacobites (those fighting under Prince Charles Stuart for Scottish independence). With questionable (in hindsight of course) decisions, and the odds against them, the Jacobites attacked across the field with their famous highland charge – right into the canons and guns of the Government troops. Within an hour the battle was over, and 1,500 Jacobites lay dead or wounded and near death by bayonet, while only about 50 Government troops were killed. Along with the many harsh repercussions that followed the battle, the final result was that Scotland has remained in British control to this day.
However, that may all change on September 18, 2014. The referendum question that will be voted on that day is pretty straightforward; “Should Scotland be an independent country?” We have seen and heard first hand just how huge a vote this will be. There are YES and NO signs everywhere, and we’ve heard many different and emotional opinions! We’ll definitely be watching to see which way the country votes.
From Culloden we drove about 10 minutes down the road to a much more ancient site – the Clava Cairns. Built about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, these burial cairns are still standing and are still very much shrouded in mystery. Why did the people build them the way they did? Why are the openings to the cairns facing the compass point where the sun is lowest at the winter solstice? What do the varying heights of the standing stones mean? It’s all very interesting, very beautiful, and pretty mind-boggling.
Since Nessie of the Loch Ness wouldn’t come out to visit we decided to leave the Loch and drove over the beautiful Cairngorm mountains from Inverness down into Dunfermline. We stopped along the way at the Dalwhinnie distillery for a wee tasting, then wandered around the rest of the afternoon in the old town of Dunfermline. We visited the Abbey built in the 1100’s, a pub built in the 1700’s, and a department store built in the 2010’s (time to do laundry or buy fresh skivies – we bought new skivies..!).
So now we are once again comfortable in a new home for the night – enjoying another lovely room and cheerful hosts. Tomorrow will be our last full day in Scotland, and we’re getting to the point now where we’re realizing how many things we haven’t seen or done. This country leaves you wanting more!