visitors to Culloden Battlefield we have been looking forward to visiting
the new £9 million National Trust for Scotland Visitor and Exhibition Centre
since it opened to the public on 20 December 2007. Originally planned to
open in August last year the centre made it just before the end of The
Highland Year of Culture 2007. Perhaps an ironic opening as the fateful day
on Drummossie Moor heralded the end of the traditional Highland way of life
and the Clan system.
missed the official opening on the 262nd anniversary of the battle on 16
April this year, due to football duties, Marilyn and I finally found the
opportunity to visit the new centre during a holiday in Inverness and on
Sunday 15 June took the Rapson’s bus, on an overcast morning to Culloden.
Great things bus passes! Passing signage in both Gaelic and English we
immediately had to make use of the new well-stocked Culloden Centre shop as
the camera batteries weren’t working!
centre fits snugly into the landscape and with a ramp which runs towards the
third Hanoverian line from which you can visit both the roof of the building
and walk down to the battlefield. The old centre which stood on the
Hanoverian lines is now completed cleared. Looking from the Jacobite lines
the new building and ramp sit un-intrusively on the horizon.
approach the new building on a pathway of Caithness flagstones bearing the
names of those, world-wide, who donated towards the cost of the centre.
Inside you pass the shop – well stocked with pleasant staff – café and
toilets to reach the entrance desk. The new exhibition is very 21st
century with interactive screens and off-screen noises! On the right-hand
side you can follow the Jacobite story and the Hanoverian on the left. Too
much information for two pensioners! Future visits are called for. The
exhibition area brings you to a small cinema area where surrounded by
screens on all sides a short, 4 ½ minute, film vividly brings the horror of
the battle to life. Finally you reach a large, well-lit area where amongst
other exhibits are the latest archaeology finds and a large table with a map
of Drummossie on which the course of the battle is illustrated. Here we were
in time to see a demonstration of Highland weapons by a chiel in period
dress, who fairly knew his stuff. We were fortunate after a walk round the
battlefield, often in rain, to catch the same cheil in Hanoverian uniform
just as deftly dealing with The King’s Army in Scotland weaponry. The
highlight of our first visit to the new centre but I am sure that we will
gain further insight on repeat visits. However one change I did miss, in
spite of the quality of the new film, was the film shown in the previous
centre telling the story of The 45 and Culloden beautifully narrated by the
late Findlay J MacDonald. A native Gaelic speaker his voice was just right
to tell the story of that fateful day.
took the opportunity to walk along the ramp to the Leanach Cottage and back
again to the environmentally-friendly roof, complete with grass, and with a
splendid view over the battlefield. Rain blowing through was a reminder of
the terrible weather conditions experienced by the ill-fed, tired Jacobites
as they watched the well-drilled Hanoverian army line up for battle.
that new interpretation handsets are now available, a must for the next
visit, we set off back to the Leanach Cottage and started to walk round the
battlefield and revisit some of our favourite spots.
More of the
battlefield visit over the next two weeks, but as we leave the Hanoverian
lines this week’s recipe recalls that the battle was fought between two
cousins – an Italian one trying to win back the throne of his forebears and
a German one fighting to keep his father’s throne safe. So German Biscuits
act as reminder of the Hanoverian side.
(2lb) Castor Sugar; 900g (2lb) Flour, sifted; 450g (1lb) Butter; 225g
(8oz) Icing Sugar; 8 tbsp Milk; Raspberry Jam (for filling); Glacê
Method: Pre-heat oven to 180°C: 350°F:
Gas 4. In a large bowl, cream the butter, gradually adding the castor
sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, mix thoroughly.
Chill 30 minutes. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into ¼
inch thickness; cut into rounds. Place on onto a lightly greased baking
tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly then remove to wire
racks. When cooled spread jam on a round, then cover with another round.
Mix the icing sugar with enough milk to produce a spreading consistency.
Spread on the top of the assembled biscuits. Top each biscuit with half