Outlander fans urged to pay Culloden ‘more respect’

The Battle of Culloden is central to the storyline of the Outlander books and television series. PIC: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Starz.
The Battle of Culloden is central to the storyline of the Outlander books and television series. PIC: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Starz.
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Outlander fans have been asked to pay more respect when visiting Culloden battlefield amid reports of selfie-taking and picnics at clan graves.

The hugely successful series of books and television adaptations, which portrays events surrounding the 1746 battle, has driven a highly lucrative tourism boom in the Highlands.

But concerns have been raised that the battlefield at Culloden, which is a designated war grave, is not being treated appropriately by a small number of visitors with claims that fact and fiction are being blurred by some fans of the entertainment series.

READ MORE: Iconic cottage at Culloden Battlefield to open to public

Alasdair MacNeill, of the Circle of Gentlemen, a once secretive Jacobite society set up to maintain the Stuart cause following the failed rebellion, said he appreciated the interest in Scotland’s history.

However, he told The Herald newspaper: “These graves are only a foot deep. We really would ask that people respect what is a designated war grave where 1,200 men lie.

“Some of the things I have seen at Culloden have really got my back up.”

READ MORE: Outlander fans swarm to sacred Clava Cairns site

He told the newspaper: “A lot of the visitors are American and seem to think they are on a film set rather than a war grave. They maybe don’t know the history. But how would they feel if I walked my dog across Gettysburg?”

He said he first witnessed picnics at clan graves around a decade ago with visitors taking selfies at the site now more common.

Professor Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology at Glasgow University, said he had not witnessed such behaviour first had but that he was aware that soil around the Clan Fraser grave marker had become eroded.

Clan Fraser is central to the show’s storyline with lead character Jamie Fraser played by Scots actor Sam Heughan.

Professor Pollard, who advised Outlander during shooting of the first two series of the show posted on Twitter about a “few unthinking” Outlander fans.

He said: “Folks, great that you take the trouble to visit, but remember, Jamie Fraser is a fiction, the more than a thousand Jacobites buried there are not.”

Katey Boal, interim Property Manager at Culloden, which is managed by National Trust for Scotland, said hundreds of thousands people visit Culloden every year.

She added: “The vast majority conduct themselves completely appropriately and treat the site and its features with respect. Where there are concerns, our staff always try to deal sensitively with issues as they arise.

“Throughout the peak visitor season staff are on the battlefield regularly throughout the day, and of course, there are signs making it clear that this is a war grave.

“There has been an increase in interest thanks to Outlander. We see this as an excellent opportunity to engage with a new audience, giving these visitors a deeper insight into the real life events that inspired the series.”