Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Scotland Trip: Day Two -- Walking Culloden at Night

Happy Monday! I'm hear to tell you more about my trip to Scotland. If you missed the first three posts, here they are:

Day 1
Day 2 -- Part One
Day 2 -- Part Two

I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger Friday... And now I'm ready to tell you about walking Culloden Battlefield at night. We pulled into the parking lot and the last person was pulling out, leaving the lot empty. At first, we were disappointed, thinking that we'd have to wait another day. We hit the ground in Edinburgh running, and our list was so jam-packed full of things we wanted to see, we actually weren't sure when we'd be able to come back.

The sky was turning pinkish grey. Within twenty minutes it would be dark.

I've always loved grave yards. I like to walk through them, look at the names, the dates, the stones. In Ireland, I put my camera in a crypt and took a picture (profusely apologizing to the dead, who happened to be my ancestors). But all of my previous trips had been during the day. Its a battlefield you say--and yes it is, but it is also a mass graveyard.

Scary.

But, when in Scotland... We knew we were crazy. Prayed we'd make it through before it was pitch black. Were pretty sure our husbands would think we were insane.

We stepped out of the car.


The first sign we came across.

The second.
As soon as we stepped onto the battlefield, Andrea and I were both immediately overwhelmed with a sense of calm. We felt...protected. There was no fear. It was almost like our Highlanders were there guiding us safely through the battlefield--I know that sounds whimsical, cooky, but its true. We actually felt calmer. I'm so glad my flash is awesome on my camera... got some amazing shots.

Here is the first grave I saw. It says: "Field of the English. They were buried here."

"Well of the dead. Here the Chief of the MacGillivray Fell"

"Clans MacGillivray, MacLean, MacLachlan, Athol Highlanders"

"Clan Mackintosh"

"Mixed clans"

You can't really see it too well in the picture, but the grass had three circular, linked indentations. Just thought it was neat.

And the sun started to set as we encountered the Well of the Dead. Look at all the spots on my camera? There was no debris. I checked... Do you think they were spirits?

The plaque on the well.

"Clan Fraser"

A view of the field as the sun set -- more white dots...

A view of the well in the dark -- more white dots...

Another view of the battlefield -- which is MASSIVE. Would take hours to walk. We only spent about 45 minutes there, before we thought we'd overstayed our welcome.

A view of the marsh.

Looking toward where we'd come from -- another white globe.

A flag in the distance. See it?

The path we walked on.

Heading back toward where we'd come on the path. More globes.

It is REALLY dark. I think its time to go...

Didn't come out. Flash didn't help at this point, but it was a little cottage that had been there since the battle.
So, once it was pitch black, and there were no lights, we booked it back to our car, climbed in and took a deep breath. Holy cow... Amazing. And sad. We said a prayer for those who fought and died. And for those ghosties that didn't "get" us.

Have you ever been to the battlefield? Want to go at night? Do you think those white globes are spirits?

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20 comments:

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

I've always wondered what would have happened if the Scots had worked together. It was interesting to see the Frasers, my husband has Fraser ancestors. Tweeted.

Vivi Dumas said...

Ireland and Scotland are n my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

Janet Mullany said...

I visited it once, in daylight. It is one of the most atmospheric, brooding places I've ever been to.

Ashley York said...

Thanks for sharing that. I never made it to the Battlefield but heard they had been doing work on it recently. To me that means rewriting history. Your pictures look great. Could you see the "globes" with your eye or just the camera? Great blog.

Vonda Sinclair said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience at night! I've visited in daytime and it has an atmospheric, calm, haunting quality that's hard for me to describe. I also happened to get an interesting symbolic photo.
http://fierceromance.blogspot.com/2007/07/scotland-day-5-part-2-culloden.html

Cathy MacRae said...

I walked Culloden battlefield last spring on an overcast day and felt things hard to explain. The museum there is great and would recommend taking time to visit. I will go back. Thanks, Eliza, for your post and photos!

Kate Poole said...

I visited Culloden in the daylight in 1993. It was a lot like that day must have been -- chilly, misty, rainy. It was overwhelmingly sad. I am sure they have made a lot of changes to it since then. Will try to go back some day.

Kate Poole

ladyhawthorne said...

Since they are not in every photo I'm betting those orbs were spirits. They were probably pleased that someone came to visit and to appreciate that they died for their beliefs.

Gerri Bowen said...

I'd say spirits, Eliza. Thanks for sharing the photos.

Alexa said...

I've been there but only during the day. I'm too much of a scaredy cat to go at night! Yer brave lasses!

Jody said...

I have been there once at gloaming and it is quite calm but still not sure what you might encounter as there are stories of sounds of the battle that are heard and that fireballs have been seen from the road right a glooming. I had a similar experience at the Flodden battlefield. If you can call a farmers field a battleground, my last trip to Scotland I 2007. We had been driving the Borders in the gloomy weather and my dh refused to climb the hill with me so I did it by myself and I was the only one there and I felt the whole time I was being watched. Sometimes the camera worked and other times it stalled and left blank photos. I am returning there for the 500th anniversary of the battle in September and I hope to have more experiences Ike the last one. Too much e grey from those horrific battles to disparate over time. Looks like you had a great trip. If you are interested you should read about colonel Annie MacIntosh, who called up her husband clan, he led a company of Black Watch for the royal army and it was the MacGilverary who led the MacIntosh in battle. After Culloden she was captured by the royal army and imprisioned until her husband could get her released. Find a copy of Marsha Canham's romance MIDNIGHT HONOR for her story.

Winona Cross said...

This is truly one of the most touching and wonderful posts I've ever read. My dream is to go to Scotland and focus on places my MacGregor ancestors may have trod. I've always felt "something" about Culloden. I think your white dots are spiritual but I'm a romantic dreamer. Very nice!

Jennifer (JC Page) said...

I'd be waiting in the car...spooky for me:)Love the pics!! Thank-you Eliza. I think the globes are spirits...friendly at that...and no they don't possess people...as me and my family were asked - we also witnessed orbs in Italy...always a great time:)

Amy Jarecki said...

I was there during the day. It was May, the wind was blowing a gale and then the driving rain started. Thrilled that you have these pictures! I didn't take many.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I remember the feeling of sadness, Eliza. It was a dreary day, but it wasn't cold until we entered the battlefield. It was an awesome experience and I definitely believe the orbs are the spirits who cannot find their way home. Culloden is Scotland's Gettysburg. We left the field a bit changed after realizing how many men died during the battle. I found the stones of both the clans my family is part of - Douglas and Gordon.

If you'd like a photo of the small house, I have a couple I can share with you.

Thanks for sharing. The photos are awesome.

Julie Robinson said...

There is no doubt in my mind that those white moon shapes are orbs. If they were specks of dirt on your camera, they'd all be in the same place for each picture. Which they are not. Furthermore, you can still see them, even in your black photos. Dirt wouldn't show up in the dark. I've always wondered if pictures with these orbs were photoshopped, but now I know they're real. Thank you.

Ashley, I'm with you on the rewriting history. But then that's why I like historical romances to be accurate. There's so much forgotten history, so They keep the past alive. Jody, thanks for the book recommendation.

Màiri Norris said...

I'm so jealous you got to be there at night, Eliza. We only had two hours, and that on a lovely, sunny day. Still, that sense of sadness lingers, unmistakable, no matter the time of day. -- Thanks for sharing.

Chicks of Characterization said...

I also took photos on our little adventure and in some of those there are so many orbs that you can barely make out the pictures. It was probably one if the best experiences of my life. Not once did I feel spooked. I felt totally at ease. I have also been during the day but the night time just had a different feel. So cool! Eliza and I had such a great time. I can't wait to go back!
~Andrea

Barbara said...

Fantastic post, Eliza. Very affecting. Those mysterious circles are so interesting. Especially because they seem so perfectly round. I can only imagine how you felt. Barb Bettis

Lana Williams said...

Fascinating post, Eliza! Those dots are incredibly intriguing!