THE LAYING O' THE LAUREL REPORT
Culloden Memorial Cairn
16 April 2005
"For all who fought, and all who died
And all who have cried over Culloden"
Culloden Memorial Cairn 2005
Photograph by Hugh DP McArthur
Fine veils of drizzle and mist meandered like ghosts across the battlefield as around four hundred souls gathered at the Culloden memorial cairn to pay their respects. It was Saturday 16th April 2005 and the 259th anniversary of Scotland’s greatest sorrow. A short service was organised by the Inverness Gaelic Society, the bagpipes were played and wreaths were laid.
The crowd was very mixed, with overseas visitors, clansmen (and women) in full costume, and a local chapter of Saints & Sinners bikers who arrived on their mounts wearing kilts. Ten members of the MacArthur Society in Britain were present including the Chief, the Seannachie and the High Commissioner. The Chief placed a laurel wreath on behalf of Clan Arthur and after photos we retired to the visitor centre for coffee, chat and book browsing.
There was more than a buzz in the air around the centre and leaflets were being distributed for a second ceremony to take place at Ruaig na Maighe (The Rout of Moy) where a new memorial cairn was to be unveiled by HRH Prince Michael of Albany, 26th de Jure Lord High Steward of Scotland.
The Rout of Moy, as it is known, took place on 17th February 1746 (two months before the Battle of Culloden) on the Inverness Road near the Hall of Moy (about 10 miles southeast of Inverness today). During the Jacobite Army’s retreat north, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his entourage (a party of around 70) decided to wait at Moy for the rest of the army to catch up before proceeding to Inverness. The Lady of the Hall was Anne Mackintosh, a fervent Jacobite supporter, who welcomed her unexpected guests.
Inverness was still in Government hands at this point, commanded by Lord Loudon, and Anne Makintosh’s husband was serving as one of his officers. Loudon heard of Charlie’s whereabouts and sent a detachment of 1,500 troops south to capture him. In the early hours of the morning the Jacobites were warned of the approaching Government force and panic set in at the Hall. The main Jacobite army was still too distant to be brought up in time and only a handful of fighting men were available.
Lady Mackintosh decided to conceal the Prince and his baggage by Loch Moy and sent Donald Fraser with four men to watch the road from Inverness for the imminent arrival of the Redcoats. The party positioned themselves between two gravel banks near a dip on the road. When the Government forces appeared on the skyline they loosed their muskets and started running back and forth screaming as many Jacobite Clan battle cries as they could think of. It was a dark night with thunder and lightning adding to the confusion. The Redcoats took fright, believing that they had run into an ambush of the main Jacobite army, and immediately withdrew.
The rout continued and the Government force retreated in haste to Inverness town. There was worse to come. The following morning, still sure that the fearsome Highlanders were hot on their heals, 200 Redcoats deserted, and their alarmed officers decided to retreat further, ordering their troops across the Kessock Ferry where they waited for reinforcements to reach them on the Black Isle. The Jacobites walked into Inverness without a shot being fired.
The embarrassment suffered by the Hanoverian Government when they realised that 1,500 professional soldiers had been routed and chased up the road by a mere five hairy Highlanders, must have been immense, and possibly goes some way to explaining why in the aftermath of the victory at Culloden, The Duke of Cumberland set about crushing the rebel Highlanders so that they could never rise again.
Local enthusiast Donald MacAskill put in a lot of effort to agree permission with the Forestry Commission to erect the cairn and organise the ceremony. The cairn was unveiled, speeches were given, the pipes were played, a musket was fired and the proceedings were brought to a close to the rousing skirl and beat of Clan an Drumma (The Children of the Drum). The hills reverberated and the trees sang back as the band drummed out what can only be described as a warrior rhythm. Afterwards all attendees were invited to the Tomatin Inn for free soup and stovies. The party hijacked the band and we were treated to another awesome performance at the Inn by one of Scotland’s most energetic sextets.
The cairn dedicated to the bravery and astonishing success of Donald Fraser and his men is located in the forest on a section of the old Inverness Road, just to the west of the A9 (OS Map Ref. NH7334). Overlooked by Beinn nan Cailleach (The Mountain of the Goddess) it is a place I shall always remember with a wry smile and the wakening beat of The Children of the Drum.
The Butcher Cumberland may well have won the Battle of Culloden, won the war, crushed the rebels and cleared their kinfolk from the land. He may have ended the Highland way of life, but the Highland spirit lives on - We’ll come again!
Hugh DP McArthur FSA Scot
Publicity Liaison Officer
The MacArthur Society in Britain
A Branch of Clan Arthur