Friday, September 01, 2006

Culloden


I booked a Thursday morning tour to Culloden. I don't really know what I expected, but I found myself anticipating the visit with what I think would be a similar sensation if I were to visit Vimy Ridge. Naturally, I started questioning this, asking if it was a reponse to the romance built up around the last stand of the clans, a "Braveheart" kind of creation, or if it was a true response to what I knew about the events of Culloden in April 1746. But in the end, I realized I can't really separate the two, because as much as Tourist Scotland is built upon the image of the rugged highland warrior and his noble failure to put Charles Stuart on the throne, these were men, soldiers, with families, with some kind of code that they lived by, and they did die at Culloden field and they were given no mercy by the English... and Scottish people (the ones who are 50 and older, at least) seem to live with their history (or heritage, troubling complication?) wrapped so closely around them, still.

The practical, quantitative, logical side of my mind wanted to question the emotions I brought with me to Culloden. I think I wrestled with it all so much, though, that I effectively squashed most of the feelings I had anticipating the visit. All the bored Italian women and the quizzical-looking Germans dispelled the rest. All I ended up thinking was "what was Charles Stuart and his military adivsers thinking???" You don't need historical hindsight to figure out that Culloden Moor was a horrible site for a pitched battle between English guns and infantry, and a highlander charge.

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