Remembering the Battle of Culloden

Fraser clan stone

Today is the 276th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, which took place on April 16, 1746.

I like this video very much. (The song is "The Ghosts of Culloden", performed by Isla Grant.)

“Ye looked fair wild, man, for there was blood runnin’ doon your face and your hair was loose on the wind. Ye’d sheathed your sword to carry me, but ye pulled it again as ye turned away. I didna think I should see ye again, for if ever I saw a man set to meet his death …”

He shook his head, his eyes half-closed, as though he saw not the sober, stalwart man before him, not the Fraser of Fraser’s Ridge--but Red Jamie, the young warrior who had not gone back from gallantry, but because he sought to throw his life away, feeling it a burden--because he had lost me.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7, "Shrapnel". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Diana Gabaldon noted in her blog post about her 2008 visit to Culloden that she saw the place where Jamie woke after the battle, thinking he was dead. When I asked her on Compuserve a few years ago if she recalled where that was, exactly, she said:
Jamie made it almost to the second government line. He woke in a little swale or dip (you recall he was lying in water), about forty feet off the path that leads from the Visitors Centre--maybe a couple of hundred yards beyond the VC itself.

The photo below shows the area where the government lines were, marked with a red flag.

Picture the scene on that day, as depicted in BEES:
He’d closed his eyes again now, seeing it, and imagined that he felt Murtagh’s hand, hard and callused, still holding his as they lay on the ground.

“Did I kill [Jack Randall]?” he whispered, more to himself than to Jenny. “I did…I ken I did…but how…”

The blood. The hot blood.

“The blood--it spilled down my arm, and then I…I wasna there anymore. But when I woke, my eyes were sealed shut wi’ dried blood and that’s what made me think I was dead--I couldna see anything but a sort of dark-red light. But then later I couldna find a wound on my head. It was his blood blinding me. And he was lyin’ on me, on my leg--”

(From GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 58, "Telling Beads". Copyright© 2021 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Jamie was very lucky indeed that BJR fell with his weight on Jamie's badly injured leg, or he might have bled to death before his friends found him. A very sobering thought!

Leanach cottage at Culloden

This is the famous Leanach cottage, where Jamie found shelter with the other Jacobites as they awaited execution, two days after the battle.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Culloden in 2012, and again in 2016. It's an amazing place, and the Visitors Centre is very well done. If you're planning a visit to Scotland, don't miss it!

1 comment

Elise Skidmore said...

Wonderful post. I loved the photos.

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