Tributes paid to historian and leading authority on Battle of Culloden

Tributes have been paid to a Jacobite historian and leading authority on Culloden who helped to change understanding of the battle and the land where it was fought.

Dr Christopher Duffy has died at the age of 86 after a period of ill health. He was a highly regarded military historian who took special interest in Jacobite campaigns, with his knowledge on the Battle of Culloden and events of April 16, 1746 hugely admired.

When the battlefield came under increasing threat from developers and housebuilding in recent years, Dr Duffy’s work let to greater understanding of the site and its historic boundary. His research showed Culloden was fought over an area far bigger than previously thought.

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Michael Nevin, chair of the 1745 Association, described Dr Duffy as “undoubtedly the leading Jacobite scholar of his generation”.

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He said: “Over the years, he worked tirelessly for the preservation of the Culloden Battlefield against encroaching developments, and its conservation will be one of his enduring legacies.

“Those of us who knew him will miss him greatly and his death is a sad loss to our association and the preservation of the Jacobite heritage.”

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Mr Nevin said Dr Duffy’s book, The '45: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the untold story of the Jacobite Rising (2003), was likely to remain the authoritative work on military history of the 1745 Rising, with the historian’s research comprehensively disproving the then conventional wisdom the campaign was doomed to failure from the outset.

Dr Duffy read history at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating with first-class honours. He received a DPhil in 1961 and taught military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the college of the British General Staff.

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Dr Christopher Duffy (right) pictured at Culloden with Andrew McKenzie, former manager of the battlefield and founder of Highland Historian tours. PIC: Contributed.

The scholar published widely on military history, with a particular focus on the 18th and early 19th century, including the Seven Years' War and the Napoleonic Wars.

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Dr Duffy served as chairman of the 1745 Association between 2014 and 2016 and was, at the time of his death, an honorary vice-chair of the association. Although he became physically frail in later life, his scholarly work and research never abated and his work on Culloden continued.

Dr Duffy was a witness adviser in the High Court on a number of cases, including the Hatton Gardens burglary of 2015. He used his knowledge of forensic techniques to deepen his understanding of Culloden.

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Andrew Grant McKenzie, the former manager of Culloden, last walked the battlefield with Dr Duffy in 2021, when the scholar was last able. Mr McKenzie, founder of Highland Historian tours, said: "We discussed many flashpoints in the battle, but also our future hopes for the conservation of the site.

"His work on mapping the site accurately during the pandemic must be regarded as some of the most important conservational historical research ever developed. His wider knowledge and range of topics were incredible to discuss.

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"He was also a very caring man and I will fondly remember cancelling an afternoon of looking for evidence at Culloden to assist a lamb that had its head stuck in a tree.

"I will always remember the regular calls we had during lockdown when we spoke about everything and anything. Those calls gave me some of the best advice and support anyone could imagine. He was truly a loyal and staunch friend.”

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