Culloden battlefield, a few miles east of Inverness, is the site of the last pitched battle fought on British soil. Here, on 16 April 1746, the Jacobite uprising which had begun in 1745 was finally and decisively defeated.
Starved of funds and supplies, the Jacobite leader Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) decided to stage a desperate fight for survival. His forces comprised Highlanders and Lowland Scots, plus some English, French and Irish supporters. The government army under the Duke of Cumberland vastly outnumbered the Jacobites. As well as mainly English soldiers, the army had Lowland and Highland Scots, Ulstermen (northern Irish), Hessian (German) and Austrians among its numbers.
The battle was waged on Culloden Moor, ideally suited to Cumberland’s well-equipped army; the Jacobites were superior in more rugged terrain. In the early afternoon, in very poor weather, it was all over within an hour. Between 1500 and 2000 Jacobites were wounded or killed, whereas government losses were only 50 dead and about 300 wounded.
Today, the battlefield is easily accessible from the National Trust for Scotland’s visitor centre. Footpaths lead past a memorial cairn (erected in the late 19th century), headstones for the mass graves of members of the Highland clans who fell in the battle, and markers for the positions of the opposing sides.