It is one of the most significant battles in British history. Now, new evidence is shedding fresh light on the events at Culloden in 1746.
Located near Inverness, Culloden saw the final defeat of the last Jacobite Rising, an attempt to restore the usurped Stuart dynasty to the British throne.
The ‘Forty-Five Rebellion’ – as it is often known, having been launched the previous year – was ultimately defeated by British government forces in a bloody showdown on 16 April 1746.
An important element of the doomed Jacobite defence was the role played by Culloden House. It was where the rebellion’s leader, Charles Edward Stuart, had a headquarters in the days leading up to the battle.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which owns and maintains the battlefield, has uncovered new evidence for the location of Culloden Parks, the designed landscape around the house – an important element of the battlefield previously thought to have been lost.
It was previously known that the Jacobites used the southern end of Culloden Parks as their left flank when they deployed for the battle. Now, the HES investigation has revealed that the Parks was situated further west than was once thought – suggesting in turn that the Jacobites’ left flank was in a more westerly position when it was first deployed for battle.
The discovery was made by ground surveys and the cross-referencing of 18th-century and modern maps, as well as of data from the airborne 3D-scanning technique, LiDAR.
The data also revealed that the original channel of the Red Burn – another key feature of the battlefield site – is itself further west than previously understood.
A significant portion of the boundary walls of the Parks has survived. This is despite widespread changes in the landscape in the 275 years since the battle. Culloden is now one of Scotland’s most visited tourist attractions.
Commenting on the findings, Kevin Munro, Senior Designations Officer at HES, who conducted the research, said, ‘The Battle of Culloden is one of the most documented and studied conflicts in Scotland’s history, so to unearth new information that will further enhance our understanding of this significant battle is very gratifying.’
He added, ‘This clear evidence for the survival of Culloden Parks shows us that the story of the Battle of Culloden is still unfolding along with our understanding of the historic landscape. This research will further enhance our knowledge of the pivotal events that took place on 16 April 1746.’