Clan Donald Magazine No 4 (1968) Online
Culloden Battlefield and a New Clan Donald Memorial by Lt. Col. Iain Cameron Taylor.
Many visitors to Culloden have remarked on the absence of any headstone marking the graves of the MacDonalds at the burial ground of the clans. The reason for this apparent omission is that the MacDonald regiments of Keppoch, Glengarry and Clanranald, with the men of Glencoe and other allied clan detachments, were on the left wing of the Jacobite Army and thus some distance to the north of the present Memorial Cairn and Burial Ground, where the fiercest part of the action was fought and most of the Highland casualties occurred, The dead of Clan Donald were therefore probably buried where they fell and local traditions have mentioned a number of graves in this part of the muir which is now within the Forestry Commission's plantation.
One of these graves or trenches, marked on the original Ordnance Survey of 1867, is shown in a detailed plan of the battlefield prepared by James Fraser, a noted Inverness civil engineer and surveyor, for the first edition of Peter Anderson's "Guide to Culloden Moor" in 1868. At that time it lay in the open muir and was well-known to local people before it was later lost in the extension of neighbouring forestry operations. As the grave was not far from the Keppoch Stone, which marks the spot where Alasdair MacColla, the gallant 16th Chief of the MacDonells of Keppoch, fell mortally wounded, it had for long been presumed to be the last resting place of Clan Donald men who gave their lives for Prince Charles in that forlorn cause.
For some time now The National Trust for Scotland's Warden at Culloden, Mr Neil MacDonald, has searched the woods for this grave, which, as it lay outwith the oval clearing in the forest, was not marked by Duncan Forbes (10th Laird of Culloden) when he put up the other stones at the main group of graves and erected the great Memorial Cairn in 1881. The only means of identification recorded was that the grave lay near a small well or spring.
Recently, however, Neil MacDonald encountered some members of a party from the Ordnance Survey who were engaged in checking and revision work in the vicinity. He told them of his problem and one or two of them offered to visit the area when they had time and to re-plot on the ground the grave-site marked on the old survey maps. This task has now been accomplished and when the spot was finally located it was found that a drainage ditch had been dug from near the grave to carry away the water from a little spring close by.
The situation of this grave, less than 200 yards from where the Hanoverian front line stood and in the direction of the MacDonald advance, is 100 yards nearer the enemy than the spot where Keppoch fell. This should surely dispel the widespread myth that the MacDonalds refused to charge at Culloden, but even Cumberland's aide-de-camp refutes this in a letter which has been preserved. All that the MacDonalds were unable to do at Culloden was "to close with the claymore." The Jacobite right and centre was in retreat before Clan Donald could engage the enemy and they were in imminent danger of outfianking and encirclement by the Hanoverian dragoons coming up on their left. They retired, leaving their dead and such wounded as they could not carry from the field. The unknown MacDonalds who lie in this re-discovered grave can rest with honour, as the very presence of their bones here has vindicated the proud name of Clan Donald. - I.B.C.T.
Detail of plaque:
CLAN DONALD MEMORIAL.
THE HEADSTONE NEARBY MARKS THE APPROXIMATE SITE OF A GRAVE, ONCE WELL KNOWN LOCALLY, UNTIL LOST DURING SUBSEQUENT FORESTRY OPERATIONS. IT IS BELIEVED TO BE THE RESTING PLACE OF MACDONALDS WHO FELL IN ACTION AT THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN.
THE SITE WAS RE-PLOTTED BY THE ORDNANCE SURVEY IN 1964 FROM DATA ON THE ORIGINAL SURVEY OF 1867.
THE STONE AND PLAQUE WERE ERECTED HERE IN 1966. IN CO-OPERATION WITH THE FORESTRY COMMISSION, BY THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR SCOTLAND FROM A FUND INITIATED BY ETHEL MACDONALD OF LOUISIANA, USA, AND ALASTAIR MACDONALD OF NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA - "TO HONOUR ALL MACDONALDS KILLED AT CULLODEN AND IN BATTLE ELSEWHERE." MANY OTHER MEMBERS OF CLAN DONALD LATER CONTRIBUTED TO THE FUND, MAKING THIS MEMORIAL AND ITS UPKEEP POSSIBLE.
"A CHLANNAIBH CHUINN, CUIMHNICHIBH"
Clan Donald Memorial Ceremony - Culloden.
Saturday, 16th July,1966.
2.45 pm - Visitors assemble at Culloden Memorial Cairn. Mr. Neil A. MacDonald will play "The Parading of the MacDonalds" (Faicheachd Chloinn Dhòmhnuìll) and then "Lament for the Children" (Cumha na Cloinne) as visitors move down the pathway to the site of the Clan Donald grave.
3.00 pm - The Chairman (Lord Doune, Convener of the Culloden Committee) welcomes the Gathering on behalf of The National Trust for Scotland and introduces the Rt. Hon. Lord Macdonald, High Chief of Clan Donald, Lord Macdonald addresses the Gathering. (Text of address below.) Lord Maedonald unveils Clan Donald stone (covered with his own banner) and then the Warden, Neil MacDonald, unveils the commemorative plaque (covered with NTS flag).
Chairman calls on the parish minister, Rev Dr John Macpherson MA, to offer prayer in Gaelic. Chairman calls on Donald J. MacDonald of Castleton, President of Edinburgh Branch of the Clan Donald Society, to lay a wreath at the stone on behalf of all clansmen. Chairman calls on piper to play "MacDonald's Salute" (Fàilte Chloinn Dhòmhnuìll).
Vote of thanks by Dr. D. J. Macdonald. Vice-Convener of Culloden Committee to Lord Macdonald, Chairman, Piper, Clan Donald Societies at home and abroad, Forestry Commission, Ordnance Survey, Warden and to all who assisted and contributed.
3.30 approx.- Disperse.
Left to Right: Neil A. MacDonald, Dr Donald J. Macdonald, Lord Macdonald,
Lord Doune, Clanranald, Rev. Macpherson. Photo courtesy People's Journal.
Text of the Rt. Hon. Lord Macdonald's Address.
Lord Doune, Members of Clan Donald, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our presence here today is not in order to re-fight old battles nor to revive long-dead feuds and rivalries, but simply to pay homage and remember, with honour, those men of Clan Donald who gave their lives freely at Culloden 220 years ago in Prince Charles' Cause and some of whom lie buried at this spot. Whether we who are here now are pro-Jacobite in sympathy or not matters but little: for the actions of these men are not to be judged by hindsight or modern teaching or standards, but from what they at the time believed was right and true.
Much has been written and said in the intervening period about the battle and the part played in it by the MacDonalds. Fierce accusations have been made and equally strongly countered, but further facts or discoveries may even yet come to light. However, I would like to mention two points which, I feel, may have sometimes been overlooked - firstly, that we should know that the Clan Donald regiments were much under strength that fatal day here. Colonel John Roy Stewart, the soldier-poet, who commanded a neighbouring unit, has written to that effect in one of his well-known Gaelic poems. For a considerable detachment of MacDonalds was then away in Ross and Sutherland with the Jacobite force under Lord Cromartie's command. Secondly, to those who said, or even still say, that the MacDonalds sulked and did not charge at Culloden, because they had not been given their so-called traditional place on the Right of the Line, I would remind them that fifty years before, Viscount Dundee had no trouble in achieving his victory at Killiecrankie, in spite of the fact that he gave the right of the line to the MacLeans and put the MacDonalds on the left! And, dare I say it, that contrary to Dundee's orders, the MacDonalds were the first to charge.
Having drawn your attention to these two points, I will go no further for I believe that this is neither the time nor the place to arouse controversy or re-kindle old doubts. I myself am content to leave this whole matter to the more expert hands of research scholars and the pens of historians, some of whom, I hope, will be more familiar with the language and sentiment of the Highlander than their predecessors.
The story of the search for, and the ultimate finding of this grave-site is, I consider, a fascinating tale and one with which you are all now probably familiar. But nevertheless, as your Chief, I think it is fitting indeed to express your thanks and my own to all those who, by their work and diligence, have made this ceremony possible here today, and not least to The National Trust for Scotland which instigated the search and which had the good fortune to have one of our name closely involved in this task as well as his other activities for the Trust at Culloden Battlefield (Warden Neil MacDonald).
As has been said elsewhere: whilst the MacDonalds may not have added greatly to their laurels at Culloden, they assuredly deserved no ignominy. I feel that the very situation of this grave dispels many myths. The unknown MacDonalds who lie in this rediscovered grave (less than 200 yards from the enemy's front line and cannon) can rest with honour, as the very presence of their bones here has vindicated the proud name of Clan Donald.
It is therefore with feelings of pride, not unmingled with Highland patriotism, that I accept your invitation, my Lord Chairman, to unveil this simple stone to the memory of the dead of Clan Donald.
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