Battle of Culloden blunderbuss may leave Scotland

A charity has launched a fundraising appeal to save a rare £65,000 blunderbuss which was used during the Battle of Culloden from being sold overseas.

Picture: Peter Jolly
Picture: Peter Jolly

The historic 343-year-old weapon was the proud possession of a Captain John Goodenough, who fought on the side of the Government troops in their defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite forces in 1746.

It is one of only a few objects removed from the battlefield and has been loaned to the National Trust for Scotland since 1996 to be displayed at the Culloden Visitor Centre.

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However, the private owner from England, who wishes to remain anonymous, has now indicated he wishes to sell the blunderbuss, and has offered the trust ‘first refusal’ to purchase.

If the charity is unable to secure funds within six months, the gun will be returned to the owner for sale, and the most likely scenario is that it will then be purchased by a collector overseas and removed from Scotland.

The National Trust launched a campaign on Tuesday night to raise £65,000 towards the purchase of the weapon – half coming from the appeal and the remainder from grant-funding bodies.

Over 80 of its local members attended ‘The Secrets of Culloden’ event where they heard about the historic battle and were able to see the blunderbuss first-hand.

The National Trust for Scotland said the blunderbuss was an item of national interest and a key element of the collection at Culloden, providing a tangible link to the past.

Individual Giving Manager Rebecca Amiel said: “The response to our call to arms last night was very positive. Our local members and supporters are unanimous in their agreement that Culloden is where the blunderbuss belongs and they left ready to champion the cause.

“As a conservation charity, we are so grateful for this support which we hope will help us to secure this important piece of Culloden’s history for the future.”

The blunderbuss was made c1670 by John Finch, a leading London firearms maker, and is a rare survivor of its type - a muzzle-loading firearm with a flintlock mechanism and dog lock.

It is inscribed: ‘Taken at the battle of CULLODEN 16 April 1746 by Captain John Goodenough with 18 balls in it.’

The blunderbuss would likely have made a good battle trophy for the soldier, who would have turned 39 five days after their victory.

The conservation charity, which relies on the financial support of its members to fund its work, said Capt Goodenough is known to have fought with the Government forces at Culloden in Blakeney’s 27th Foot Regiment.