Culloden Moor by Highland Note-Book

Letter C.

Culloden Moor—the battle-field—lies eastward about a mile from Culloden House. After an hour's climbing up the heathy brae, through a scattered plantation of young trees, clambering over stone dykes, and jumping over moorland rills and springs, oozing from the black turf and streaking its sombre surface with stripes of green, we found ourselves on the table-land of the moor—a broad, bare level, garnished with a few black huts, and patches of scanty oats, won by patient industry from the waste. We should premise, however, that there are some fine glimpses of rude mountain scenery in the course of the ascent. The immediate vicinage of Culloden House is well wooded; the Frith spreads finely in front; the Ross-shire hills assume a more varied and commanding aspect; and Ben Wyvis towers proudly over his compeers, with a bold pronounced character. Ships were passing and re-passing before us in the Frith, the birds were singing blithely overhead, and the sky was without a cloud. Under the cheering influence of the sun, stretched on the warm, blooming, and fragrant heather, we gazed with no common interest and pleasure on this scene.

On the moor all is bleak and dreary—long, flat, wide, unvarying. The folly and madness of Charles and his followers, in risking a battle on such ground, with jaded, unequal forces, half-starved, and deprived of rest the preceding night, has often been remarked, and is at one glance perceived by the spectator. The Royalist artillery and cavalry had full room to play, for not a knoll or bush was there to mar their murderous aim. Mountains and fastnesses were on the right, within a couple of hours' journey, but a fatality had struck the infatuated bands of Charles; dissension and discord were in his councils; and a power greater than that of Cumberland had marked them for destruction. But a truce to politics; the grave has closed over victors and vanquished:

"Culloden's dread echoes are hush'd on the moors;"

and who would awaken them with the voice of reproach, uttered over the dust of the slain? The most interesting memorials of the contest are the green grassy mounds which mark the graves of the slain Highlanders, and which are at once distinguished from the black heath around by the freshness and richness of their verdure. One large pit received the Frasers, and another was dug for the Macintoshes.

Highland Note-Book.