274 years ago, a battle took place outside of Inverness. The name of Culloden became synonymous with bravery, pride, courage, and honor. And forever cemented the lore of the Scottish Highlanders.
When I went on my trip, I spent time at the battlefield. Today, I can share with you what happened. How it changed me, gave me peace, and remains with me.
Tara and I spent time apart that morning. It was a Sunday, and she wanted to attend a local Pokemon Go event with friends she’d met through the game. Part of that would be out at Culloden. We agreed that she’d go off with them, I’d do stuff on my own, and we’d meet at the battlefield later that morning. From there, we’d head over to Clava Cairns together before coming back to Inverness.
I walked the streets of the city that morning. It’s a lovely town to walk around in. I know we didn’t see nearly as much as we could’ve, but I truly enjoyed the area we did see. It was that morning I went up to the castle. The castle in Inverness isn’t open for tours, as it’s the offices for the local courts, government, etc. But it’s still beautiful to walk around. And the views are amazing.
After I was done exploring, I headed out to the battlefield. Only took two wrong turns! It was also the first time that I encountered one of the biggest roundabouts I’ve ever seen. Three or four lanes, and something like six exits! Pretty sure I had several Scots shaking their head about the damn tourist driving, but no accidents happened.
I found it, finally, and parked the car. Honestly, that was one of the scariest parts of having the wheel on the right side instead of the left. Turning into a space, praying I wasn’t too close to the other cars, gave my nerves a work out! Paid the fee, and saw the saying on the wall leading to the visitor center. That was my first clue that something special was about to happen. The words stirred up so many emotions in me that it’s impossible to describe.
I have a photo of it. For some reason, I can’t add it right now. But this is what it says:
‘S i ‘n fhuil bha ‘n cuisl’ ar sinnsreadh, ‘S an innsgin a bha nan aigne…’
English translation: Our blood is still our fathers And ours the valour of their hearts…
I walked through the museum portion before heading out to the battlefield itself. It was serene, peaceful. There were a lot of people, but it didn’t feel crowded outside. Everyone was respectful of not just each other but the land itself. We stayed on the paths, and I wasn’t seeing stray candy wrappers or cigarette butts everywhere. I’m sorry to say this, but the Scots know how to pack out their own trash better than most Americans.
Near the central memorial cairn, there’s a line of stone markers. The worn and weather beaten monuments mark where either certain leaders of clans fell, or simply said ‘mixed clans’. I don’t know if this is meant to mark a mass grave or simply that so many died there that they couldn’t list each clan.
The stones rested on a bit of grass reclaimed from the marsh. Visitors could approach each one, and several people left mementos. Small bouquets of flowers, bits of tartan, etc. One of the markers, near the center of the line, was forward of the rest. The vegetation had been cut back, creating a semicircle around it.
Before I go any further with this story, please understand that I put a lot of stock in certain things. My faith, my soul, tells me reincarnation is possible. That our souls go through cycles, learning the lessons we need to, before we remain to guide others on their journey. It was a past life that called me to Scotland during this one. It was the part of my soul that had lived there, been sent away, and made a promise to return one day. You don’t have to agree with this. It is, however, my personal belief.
I approached the stone. The day before, I’d found the first spot that had been, at one point, home. It was the one that’d been calling to me longer than I could understand. For some reason, I needed to touch this stone. As I knelt before it, my fingers tracing the words, the reason why came to me.
I’d had a brother. He was the one who sent me away, before the battle. And he was there, welcoming me home.
I whispered, “I told you I’d be back, you damn fool.”
In my mind, my soul, he replied, “Aye, but it took you almost 300 years. And you were safe.”
Yes, I’m trying not to cry right now.
Before I left, I visited the gift shop. It was one place I spent the most money in one shopping trip. A new glasses case (the hinge on mine broke, and I do put my glasses in it every night), a t-shirt with the English translation of the sign, a tin of shortbread for a friend, and two necklaces. One of which went to a friend, the other I wear almost daily since that moment. Inside the small orb is a preserved piece of moss from the battlefield.
It’s a tangible connection to my brother. To my past. To the peace my soul found.