One of my favorite stops on our Best of Scotland tour is the evocative memorial battlefield of Culloden. It's a place where an expert tour guide can take a place and a moment in history, stir them up with good storytelling and a context that brings it relevance, and pow — it becomes an unforgettable, meaningful moment.
Culloden — famously the site of the last battle fought on British soil — is where, in 1746, the troops of Bonnie Prince Charlie gave it their all to try to put the Catholic prince on the English throne...and failed.
In previous battles, the Jacobites (mostly Catholic and Scottish forces) used their fierce "Highland Charge" to break through the English lines. This time, the English kept their heads and held their ground. It was a timeless scene, repeated throughout history, as an empire mowed down its hopelessly outgunned insurgents. In this case, like shooting kilted ducks in a barrel.
While only about 50 English died, the Highlanders lost closer to 2,000. Bonnie Prince Charlie declared, "Every man for himself!" as he galloped away. The Highlanders scattered. The English followed up with what today would be described as a campaign of "ethnic cleansing." The Scottish loss at Culloden led to the banning of wearing the kilt, playing the bagpipes, and even of speaking Gaelic in Scotland. And it spelled the end of the centuries-old clan system.
Last summer, wandering pensively through the battlefield at Culloden I thought of the passionate clan of guides we have who bring drama and meaning (and healthy doses of humor as well) to dozens of places like this on our tours throughout the British Isles and the rest of Europe. Interested? In this month's Tour News we'll take you there with tastes, raves, videos and tour guide interviews from this rich corner of Europe.
Scotland, Ireland, London, England…these are wonderful places to experience history, broaden your perspective, and make ready friends. I hope you can join us.