A date with history on Culloden's lonely moor

THEIR ancestors faced each other on opposite sides in the last battle fought on British soil, and 262 years later to the day, two young descendents met at Culloden.

Philip Nicol, six, and Scott Hay, 11, made history just like their ancestors centuries ago.

The boys are direct descendants of soldiers who fought at the clash, in which Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army failed in its attempt to claim the crown of Scotland from the government's troops.

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Philip, from Inverness, and Scott, from Kincraig, were chosen from more than 30 entrants who traced their family tree in a competition that attracted global interest.

They performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new 9 million visitor centre sited next to the historic battlefield on the outskirts of Inverness.

To mark the opening, a piper played on the battlefield for one hour – the duration of the battle in which 1,500 lost their lives.

The centre aims to offer a new level of understanding of what happened on the 16 April, 1746 and how this led to a change in the Highland way of life.

Philip said: "My dad has been looking at our family tree since I was born and I'm really interested in who our ancestors were.

"I love visiting the Culloden battlefield and it's my birthday tomorrow so this is a fantastic present for me."

He is descended from both sides of the battle.

An examination of his family tree reveals three brothers from the Farquharson family of Allargue in Aberdeenshire, two of whom were officers with the Jacobite army, while the third fought with the government troops.

Scott added: "I was amazed to hear that I'd won and I'm delighted to be involved in opening the new centre.

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"I've always been fascinated by the history of the Jacobites and I found researching my family tree really interesting."

Scott's ancestor at Culloden was William Hay from Glenbucket in Aberdeenshire, who fought under Major-General John Gordon of Glenbucket.

William Hay is thought to have been present when Glenbucket's men met Prince Charles Edward Stuart in Moidart, the day before he set out to raise his standard at Glenfinnan.

The National Trust for Scotland, which owns the battlefield, have undertaken their largest- ever construction project to produce the emotive centre, which combines state-of-the-art technology with a fresh look at events leading up to and following the Battle of Culloden.

Minister for Culture Linda Fabiani said: "Culloden represents a significant time in our history and I am glad that the centre is placing a real focus on education and learning to share these events with young people."

She added: "I am also pleased to see the inclusion of Gaelic.

The Culloden centre will be a real cultural asset which I am sure will attract visitors from around Scotland and indeed around the world."

James Gibbs, area manager for the Inner Moray Firth with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which contributed 350,000, said: "The battlefield is recognised far and wide for the part it plays in British and European history.

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"It's absolutely fitting that the Highlands, as a dynamic and forward-looking region, is able to interpret the site through this world-class visitor centre."


ONE of the aims of the new centre, according to the National Trust for Scotland, is to dispel many of the myths surrounding the Battle of Culloden – particularly the belief that it was Scots against English.

In fact, Scottish clans fought each other, with many being recruited by the government's troops, led by the Duke of Cumberland.

Shonaig Macpherson, chairwoman of the charity, said education and young people had been put at the forefront of the project.

"We felt it was important to take a fresh approach to telling the story, placing it in context and explaining the effects the defeat of the Jacobites had on the course of history," she said.

"Our search for young people with ancestors who fought at the battle also vividly illustrated that Scottish families were deeply divided by the conflict and it's particularly symbolic that one of the young people helping open the centre has ancestors who fought on both sides.

"We also wanted to dispel any of the romantic ideals ... and demonstrate just how brutal the combat was."