“We Have Come Home”: The Army of King James Scotland Tour 2003
by Chris Timm
Originally published in Smoke and Fire Magazine:
For the second year in a row members of the Army of King James, who re-enact the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland here in North America, toured Scotland on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland, the country's leading heritage organization.
Organized by Elliot MacFarlane and MacFarlane’s company the group was again given the opportunity to do presentations at some of the country's premiere locations. For several years Elliot has spearheaded the raising of funds at 1745 Rising events and other demonstrations which has led to the connection the North American living historians have enjoyed with the Scottish body who owns most of the sites visited on the tour. The National Trust, as a non-government funded preservation agency, was pleased to once more have the group come and provide alternative programming from their norm. This created excitement for their visitors and even press coverage at some locations, as people were genuinely interested and intrigued by the fact that a number of people from North America would come to teach them about their history.
After arrival the first day was spent at Glencoe. The new visitor center in the midst of this natural wonder was a terrific location. Due to the geographic features most that visit are there too look at the sights and so this afforded a tremendous opportunity to interact with a group of people who may not traditionally stop at a historic site.
From Glencoe two days were spent at Glenfinnan, the site of the raising of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Standard in August of 1745. In between meeting with individuals and bus tours there was a re-creation of the highlanders arriving to meet the Prince plus clothing and kit demos. A highlight of the second day was the re-created boat landing of the Prince at the head of Loch Shiel complete with a welcoming party of highlanders for a photo shoot. This turned into a mini-event within itself as people came to watch the spectacle of the vessel being rowed closer to shore and finally touching land.
Two days were then spent at Culloden, site of the last land battle in the UK and also the location where the Stuart’s aspirations of a return to the throne ended so tragically. This site holds special meaning to most Scots and so to be there the week prior to the battle's anniversary was not only a privilege but also very humbling for all. Again, kit and clothing demos were held. In addition an hourly vignette portraying the morning before the battle was held at the Leanach Cottage where spectators would meet a highland officer, clansmen and finally receive an address from the Prince before a dramatic exit when it was announced the Duke of Cumberland's army has arrived on the scene.
While at Culloden the group received an invitation to a book signing by internationally known author Christopher Duffy. He has recently released a new book, The ’45: Bonnie Prince Charlie and The Untold Story of the Jacobite Rising, and was in Inverness to promote it at a reception. Arriving in full regalia the group was warmly greeted by the author, in fact posing with him for a photograph for the local newspaper, and was very well received by those in attendance.
A day of rest from presentations and travel was held after that where side trips to Killicrankie, Castle Menzies and the Edradour Distillery were enjoyed. It was then on to the final stop. The tour wrapped up in Edinburgh, the nation's capital and a city steeped in history. Starting at Holyrood Palace, the group had been invited in as guests of the administration which is unique considering it is still an active royal palace but the members of the public enjoyed the opportunity to meet the “Bonnie Prince” and his entourage.
A luncheon was held at the National Trust headquarters at Charlotte Square and then it was on to Edinburgh Castle and finally, with piper playing, it was down the Royal Mile to proclaim King James at the Market Cross beside St. Giles Cathedral as had been done in September 1745. It was a moving experience to re-create this particular element of history at the actual site.
Finally on Sunday everyone journeyed to their respective homes satisfied that we had given the Trust and Scotland a good account of what is being done here in North America. For their part the National Trust was well pleased also.
The tour was expanded over the previous year to accommodate the interest last years generated and if the response to this one is any indication it may have to be again. All of the participants were warmly received by the people of Scotland and the visitors to this wonderful land throughout the tour. It was a privilege to be goodwill ambassadors and to share with those we touched what we are attempting to do here in North America to re-create this critical era in the history of their country.