Culloden ‘find’.

This, hot on the heels of a massive refurbishment project currently being undertaken by the NTS.

Two recent news articles found in the Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman.

A few notes on this recent ‘finding’:

I’m a bit shocked that this actually made print as a seemingly groundbreaking tidbit of information. We already know that the Atholl Brigade under Murray *did* break the Government’s first line on the Jacobite right, only to be quickly enveloped and crushed by Cumberland’s second line, with a third waiting in reserve. We’d need to know more than what this skinny article tells us, but the only real news here is that perhaps some canister was used to secure the victory on Cumberland’s left, employed in a similar fashion as at the Culwhiniac walls a bit further east of the breakthrough of Barrel’s regiment. So what would have happened if the Jacobite push had survived the enveloping and enfilade, as the article suggests? There is no reason to think, as is posited here, that they were ‘far closer to winning…than previously expected’. Three quarters of the Jacobite troops were not even engaged by the time the lines were broken. The fact that the current signifiers of the Government lines at Culloden are nearly fifty metres east of where they should be only corroborates that there would be more ballistic activity farther west than previously thought. This is why they’re moving the new Visitors’ Centre off the alleged Government lines in the first place. 

Haven’t heard much else on the £7 million project they’ve been digging into up there, but it seems that The Scotsman and The Herald are eager to re-ignite Jacobite passions no matter what the findings may be. Personally, I think it’s an egregious misinformer to label The Herald article ‘Jacobites almost won at Culloden’. I’d love to hear more of Mr. Pollard’s thoughts firsthand, however. Could they be pressed for more revelatory results than simple, mundane line placement and extended ballistics evidence? Are they looking too hard for something that might not be there, caught up in the significance of such a nationalistic venture? Exciting times, to be sure, and I eagerly await what is revealed as the project comes to fruition.

Perhaps I’ve a bit of ambivalence to the emotion surrounding this project, as I was within a hair’s breadth of being chosen to join the Culloden research team in the summer of 2004. But of course, I’m just as excited as the next passionate historian to find out what secrets lay beneath the field. They have the funding to do it right now, and I hope that is exactly what they’ll do.

2 Responses to “Culloden ‘find’.”

  1. rachel_eurydice Says:
    August 4th, 2005 at 9:54 am

    **Personally, I think it’s an egregious misinformer to label The Herald article ‘Jacobites almost won at Culloden’.
    Reading the articles, I was wondering how they came to that conclusion. So, they had to use heavier firepower that had been held in reserve…um, it was still there to BE used and thus, no almost.
    Gotta love how research gets reported in more mainstream media…They HAVE to sensationalize because they think the average person can't appreciate the importance of smaller bits of actual truth (which may or may not be correct…my jury's out on that).
    The good point–stuff like this generates tourism which generates mad cash…The incentive of cash creates more gov. funding for research.
    Or, let's hope that's the way it works out.

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    August 10th, 2005 at 8:36 pm

    I'm glad that you read similarly into these articles, and thanks for responding. I think I can safely say that there's some pressure on the National Trust to ensure that the nearly $14 million they're spending on the project yields some kind of positive return. I haven't heard much since they started digging and moving things around, and it commenced last summer. They've got a handful of bigwigs working on it, but strangely have chosen to eschew much of the academic consultation that one would expect the Trust to use. One of the most prestigious professors in our field, in fact, was not even asked to participate. Perhaps on the grounds that while Scottish, it's pretty clear to him – and the rest of us, as sympathetic as we are – that the Jacobites never had a chance, and really, professional historians have been known to be great thorns in the side of manufactured history. Since Scotland has what I like to call 'a short man's complex', anything perceived as being in any way defamatory to the project at hand might not only reflect poorly on the Trust, but confound and provoke the public, as well. And as you've pointed out, therein lies the cause for the media buzz.
    I understand it, but that doesn't mean I condone it.

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