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Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre (Inverness)

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2 Reviews

Address: Culloden Moor / Inverness / Highland / IV2 5EU / Scotland

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    2 Reviews
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    • More +
      02.07.2009 22:22
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      Brilliant day and well worth the fee

      Me and my partner visited Culloden Battlefield in May of last year (2008). It was our first time in visiting Scotland and Culloden was on my list to visit!

      Culloden Battlefield is about a 20-25 minute drive from Inverness. It is really easy to find Culloden as there are signposts all along the way from Inverness. The route has some spectacular scenery and you will see plenty of Highland cows along the way!!!

      As you approach Culloden from Inverness you will see the battlefield to your right and will notice that there are blue and red flag markers all along the field (i will explain the flags later!).

      As you turn into the car park, you will notice that the car park is quite large. There is also seperate parking for coaches. It is a good job it is a large car park as it can get full pretty quickly. We paid £2 for the car park ticket.

      We arrived at Culloden really early and before the visitor centre opened, but the opening times are 10am-4pm (November-March) and 9am-6pm (April-October). As mentioned, we went in May, so we arrived there before 9am (early birds that we are!).

      The visitor centre is all brand new and is a fantastic place. It is accessible for all and wheelchair friendly. It cost us £9 each for admission, but normally costs £10 each. There was an exhibition that wasn't working, which is why we got a discount.

      The exhibitions in the visitor centre are great. There is a lot of interaction with them as there are lots of audio and visual exhibitions that you control. We spent an hour in the first room, just going through the exhibitions!

      From there you are led into the display room, which is full of swords, axes and other weapons that were used in the battle. Some of the weapons are fantastic, but i wouldn't want to come across someone weilding one at me!!!

      The entrance to the battlefield is from the display room, but while we were there a guided tour had just started and we decided to join in the tour. I am glad that we did as it was fantastic, and i cannot praise the tour guide highly enough. The tour lasted for around 1 hour and took us all the way around the battlefield, explaining about the clans, the ordinary people who took to battle, the surrounding area and the people that lived there.
      The tour took us back to the visitor centre, and then you are free to roam the battlefield yourself and in your own time. Due to the tour, it gave me and my partner a better sense of what we were looking at and how we percieved the field.
      The red and blue flags interpret where the Jacobeans and Governmental soldiers were lined up before the start of the battle. It is amazing to notice that they were extremely close to one another!
      On the battlefield there is also the mass graves of the clans. The bodies of the dead from the clans were left on the battlefield for over 2 days, and then the English allowed the families of the dead to bury them in mass graves. It is quite a moment to see the graves, as you can see the sheer scale of them.

      There is a lookout point, which is situated on top of the roof of the visitor centre, which gives you a clear view of the battlefield and the surrounding area. You can take some beautiful pictures from up there!

      There are paths that you walk on around the field, but not all of them are wheelchair friendly, so beware. They may have changed them now, but last year it would have been difficult for someone in a wheelchair to do a full tour of the field.

      You can buy a memorial stone for your loved one and have it placed on the walkway into the visitor centre. The stones would make a lovely gesture for someone who loved to visit Culloden, or had a connection there somehow.

      The visitor centre has a cafe and a gift shop. We didn't visit the cafe, but we did buy a few items from the gift shop. I didn't find it too expensive. We bought 2 t-shirts for 2 male friends back home, and they cost around £5 each. I thought that this was cheaper than some of the sites we visited.

      We had spent about 4 hours at Culloden and by the time we left, the car park was aboslutely bursting! My advice is to get there about 1/2 hour the visitor centre has opened. It won't be so crowded and you can join in with the first guided tour!

      I will be visiting Culloden again. It was a fantastic day!

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    • More +
      22.05.2008 23:46
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      Good but overpriced

      I first visited the Culloden Battlefield back in the days of my youth and when in Inverness recently visiting a friend we decided to go for a nostalgic trip to the field. On my earlier visit to the Battlefield, that was pretty much what it was, a Battlefield and not much else. Nowadays, it's a different story. The visitor centre has recently undergone a refurbishment and there is now a lot more to see.

      Culloden is on the Eastern outskirts of Inverness and a five minute drive from the A96 main Aberdeen to Inverness road. If you're driving it's easy to get to but if you're relying on public transport then it wouldn't be the most convenient place to get to.

      For those of you who are interested a brief summary of the events at Culloden is as follows:
      The Battle of Culloden in 1745 was a turning point in British history. It marked the end of a long campaign to restore a Stuart king (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the British throne. Defeated by the Duke of Cumberland and his Government forces at the Battle of Culloden the Jacobites, led by the Bonnie Prince, were to give up the fight for their cause and Governmental authority was restored to the nation.

      Cost
      The visitor centre and battlefield cost £10 for an adult to visit. Now, I might be a cheapskate but to me, that's pretty expensive, although there are some good deals available for families and larger groups. Parking at the centre costs £2, which seems a bit steep as parking isn't exactly restricted in remote parts of the Highlands. If you are a member of the National Trust for Scotland (for which annual membership costs £33) then you get in free. In a state of shock from the amount I had just had to pay I entered the centre with a high sense of expectation.

      Centre
      The centre takes you on a journey from the beginnings of the historical events that led to the battle at Culloden and culminates in a tour round the battlefield itself. There certainly are a lot of cool gadgets in the centre (which I imagine my astronomical £10 entry fee paid for). It's the kind of place that would be really appealing to kids. There are lots of interactive computer displays with bright colours and flashy graphics.

      The layout of the centre is a little confusing - the centre is designed in a chronological order but when you reach a corner then it's not always clear which direction you are meant to go in. At one particular point of the display the visitor is led through a narrow corridor with the voices of the Government forces sounding on one side and the Jacobite soldiers on the other. This sounds like a good idea to make you really feel as if you are actually at the battle, but in reality the result is confusing - the noises from both sides of the corridor overpower each other and you can't hear either properly.
      There is also an audio visual display which depicts the events on the day of the battle. The display is viewed in a room with screens on all four walls. Throughout the display different images appear on each of the four walls (presumably again to give the impression that you are in the middle of the battlefield at the height of the action). However, again, I found this section of the centre to be slightly confusing. There is too much going on to concentrate on any one of the screens. A further reason for my complaint is that there are no seats in the audio visual room - this wouldn't make it ideal for anyone not at the height of good health.

      The centre is very educational though - by the time I reached the end of it I had learned a great deal about the battle and the historical events surrounding it. I don't think that the snazzy technology added that much to my enjoyment of it however.

      Battlefield
      At the end of the centre the tour of the battlefield itself begins. As you would expect, there isn't that much to see on the battlefield. There are some red flags to represent the position of the Government forces, some blue ones to represent the Jacobites, a monument to those who died which was erected in the 19th century and some sites of mass clan graves. Instead of having a guided tour of the site, you are provided with a sat nav system which pings (or is supposed to ping) when you reach a particular point of interest on the tour. The sat navs are very cool, but they do have their problems, if you're not the most technologically able like me. My friend's sat nav broke about 30 seconds into the tour and then we ended up out of sync for the rest of the tour. There were poor instructions for using the technology - nobody explained that you had to stop when the machine pinged so my friend and I kept moving and then missed out several of the points of note on the tour.

      Overall
      A very interesting site to visit but overpriced and a lot of the technology is a bit of a waste if you ask me.

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