OVER THE SEA FROM…NORTH AMERICA: SCOTLAND TOUR 2002
By Chris Timm
In April members of the “Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 in North America”, who stage and participate in the Culloden in North America re-enactments, traveled to Scotland to tour and do interpretation on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland.
For the past three years at the spring Culloden grand encampment weekends fundraising has taken place for the National Trust. As a result of these efforts and the relationship it has built, an invitation was extended to come to Scotland to do presentations at some of their 1745-related sites.
The trip was organized by Elliott MacFarlane, who serves as a National Trust Representative in North America and also acts as Lord Elcho during ’45 related events here. His extensive knowledge of the country and numerous contacts made this an experience none could have replicated on their own. Once organized, a number of living historians representing all elements of the army of Charles Edward Stuart traveled to Scotland for this unique and special opportunity.
The trip was a wonderful and truly amazing time for all that took part. The group was very well treated and enthusiastically received wherever they went. After two days of travelling the country the group started the formal, interpretive, part of the tour in costume at Glenfinnan, the site where the rebellion began with the raising of Prince Charles’ standard in August 1745. A steady crowd was educated on the background of the '45, the weapons, the life of the clansmen and the reasons the Prince came. There was an extensive photo shoot done for the media and also for publicity. The result was that the next day the group found themselves on the front cover of the main newspaper for Northern Scotland, The Press and Journal.
From Glenfinnan, where it began it was on to Culloden Moor where the rebellion ended. A full day was spent at Culloden with ongoing presentations for large and attentive crowds (including a group of Irish dancers from Ohio!) at the Leanach Cottage and also in the visitor's center. Part of the fundraising efforts in North America has been to purchase sheep for the site and so the group was able to see some that the money raised goes towards. These sheep eat only non-indigenous vegetation and they are a key component in the ongoing restoration of the battlefield. As the day ended all agreed that to work at this site was a great privilege and the reception received will never be forgotten.In addition to the time spent on site, while in the area receptions and visits were held at Culloden House and Kilravock Castle all sites where Charles Edward Stuart and the Jacobites were received or entertained prior to the final battle in April 1746. Though non-National Trust sites the owners were eager to show their hospitality to the group, which was appreciated.
From there it was on to Edinburgh where a small reception and meeting at Georgian House was held with one of the directors of the National Trust. It was a good opportunity to further cement our relationship and he was very thankful for our fundraising efforts and desire to promote knowledge and understanding of this critical period in history.
The next day, and as a grand finale, the group toured in costume the famous Royal Mile starting at Hollyrood Palace and ending at Edinburgh Castle. The crowds were thick and at times the group could barely move for the people who wanted to take pictures and talk about who we were. Again, this was an excellent opportunity to educate the onlookers on what had happened during this period.People were genuinely impressed that we would come from North America to help teach them the heritage of their country and were appreciative of our efforts.
On a personal note, for each of us who attended this was an unforgettable experience. To actually be on the ground that we have attempted to recreate over here was humbling to say the least and was very, very special. For all of us it was a great opportunity to teach, to learn and also to grow as historians and as people.
In the end, the National Trust was very pleased with the caliber of presentation, the publicity they received and the goodwill created by the tour. Before it was over the view from their side was they would like to see this repeated. From those who traveled this thought was shared and so we will likely see another tour next year. The Scotland Tour 2002 was a unique chance for those of us who recreate the Jacobite rising of 1745 to better understand what happened and why, thus making us more effective at presenting and teaching it to the people here in North America.