Friday, October 23, 2009

Culloden

Headed out early the next morning and met the others to pick up our hire a car, a nice little Skoda Fabia (that we soon nicknamed Fabio) with, thankfully, lots of space in the boot. Did a couple loops around town trying to pick up my luggage from the hostel and working the confusing Scottish road system (apparently it all hinges on roundabouts) and we soon found ourselves a park so Sarah went to get pampered while Maggie and I had a look at the castle with its monument to Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald and the pretty churches around town, though sadly we couldn’t get inside any of them.

After another tasty lunch on the riverbank we drove a little way out of town to the Culloden battlefield where the Jacobite rising under Bonnie Prince Charlie came to a pretty decisive end with most of the Jacobite army being killed by English troops in the first hour of the battle. There was a really interesting museum explaining the rising and the lead up to the battle from both sides and a 360 degree video of the fighting before you headed out onto the battlefield itself. The moor is big, flat and quite tranquil with only one small cottage, red and blue flags marking the front lines of the two armies and the small clan stones marking the mass graves of the Jacobite troops. Pretty chilling though very interesting. A little further out of town we found the Calva Cairns, a set of 3 ancient stone burial mounds, each surrounded by a ring of standing stones.

Had better luck with our evening plans this time around and after dinner we met a very tall and eccentric kilted Scotsman called Cameron for the Crime and Punishment tour around Inverness. We were the only ones so we got a private tour which was nice. Heard all about the various gruesome deaths and strange things about town…iin between rants about Scottish independence and warnings that if we didn’t laugh at his jokes he’d throw us into the River Ness (I assume he was kidding but we kept laughing just in case:P). So we learned about the last man to be hanged in Inverness who was buried under the front door of the police station and has ever since been dug up and reburied under the front door whenever the police station moved, the gruesome 3 day long execution of one man by the English widow of an early Scottish King in retaliation for his role in her husband’s murder and saw the old graveyard where many of the surviving Jacobite prisoners were executed after Culloden.

Sarah then bravely drove us in the dark along a series of winding single track roads way out into the middle of the countryside where we eventually found Carbisdale Castle, our hostel for the night. The inside was all antique furnishings (except the bedrooms which were your standard dorm bunkbeds), statues, paintings, stained glass windows and even a few resident ghosts which we learned about because there were a few girls in our dorm who were staking out the ‘spook room’ for the night. Not sure how much success they had but I personally didn’t spot anything too spooky sadly.

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