Iconic cottage at Culloden Battlefield to open to public

Leanach Cottage at Culloden Battlefield is to open to the public once again. PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr/Malcolm Manners.
Leanach Cottage at Culloden Battlefield is to open to the public once again. PIC: Creative Commons/Flickr/Malcolm Manners.
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The famous thatched cottage at Culloden Battlefield which was likely used as a field hospital during the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army is to open again to the public.

Plans are in place to restore and reopen Leanach Cottage to tell the story of the property and those who lived there.

The farm worker’s cottage sat between battle lines in April 1746 and was likely used as a hospital for government soldiers.

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Following the battle, it was lived in again by farm workers before being turned into the original Culloden visitor centre.

Katey Boal, interim property Manager for the National Trust of Scotland, said it was time to open up Leanach once again.

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“It’s really exciting to be able to open this back up to the public and putting people back in the cottage and allowing people access to it. It’s such a popular destination for people; they are quite literally banging down the door,” Ms Boal told the Press and Journal.

She added: “It’s also about telling the stories of the people who lived in the cottage and tell stories about the history, natural heritage of the time. Its stories we can’t tell at the visitors centre but we can tell at the cottage.

“The building is not just some picture on a postcard. It’s about the stories of people’s lives and that is what I am excited about.”

While the heather thatched cottage now stands alone, the area was once well populated with land divided into smallholdings.

It is one of only two structures left following the battle on April 16, 1746.

According to experts at Culloden Battlefield the building fell into a ruinous state around the late 1860s and was built and reoccupied in the early 1880s, possibly as part of Duncan Forbes’ work to memorialise the Battle of Culloden.

During this time, the memorial cairn and clan graves were also put in place.

The last occupant of Leanach Cottage was Belle MacDonald who lived here until she died in 1912.

Her family apparently gave tours of the battlefield to interested visitors as the Victorian railway brought tourists into the Highlands.

The National Trust for Scotland was gifted Leanach Cottage in 1944 by landowner Hector Forbes and it became the original visitor centre in 1961.

It was closed to the public around 10 years ago given the need for improvement works.

Plans have now been lodged with Highland Council to carry out extensive specialist refurbishment.

This will include preserving the building’s foundations, supporting the cottage’s timber frame and laying a new floor.