Resurrecting Scotland; Remembering Culloden

It is told that the ghosts of the Highlands of Scotland still tread upon lands that have remained unchanged throughout the centuries. Their stories are carried upon the thick haze of the haunting mists that linger above the jagged peaks of Glencoe. The sounds of ancient pipes still heard shattering the silence of night, serving as a reminder of all that was lost. From the land they were born and to the land they shall return.

People from around the world travel to Scotland not to merely see a landscape wrapped in beauty and mystery, but rather they come to touch history, to mourn the tragic end of a life, of a time that was not lost but stolen. Throughout Scotland’s history there is one undeniable truth, her story was never her own. It was written by those who placed Scotland and her son’s and daughter’s at the sacrificial alter of dominion.

Endless battles have ravaged the vast terrain of Scotland but none as finite as the final fall of the Jacobite army. April 16th 1746, upon the boggy grounds of Culloden Moor, Scotland’s history would be forever changed. A battle that lasted under an hour marked the beginning of the end of Highland culture and all that existed within it. The Highland Clearances, a genocidal act committed against the people of Scotland by the English army after their victory at Culloden, showed a brutality that went beyond the call of war. Clan’s were dismembered, tartan’s were banned and the sorrowful pipes had grown silent, their sweet sound bringing with it a penalty of death. Those who had survived the brutal Clearances were sold and shipped as slaves to unknown lands, helplessly watching as slave ships took them further from their home and closer to a future that was uncertain. Homes that had once been filled with beautiful song sung in Gaelic tongue had now grown silent, burning black against the sky, leaving behind nothing more then scattered embers and ash, carried away by the wind before disappearing in time[].

The desperate attempts by the English to wipe away the blood of the innocent from their hands has not been in vain. Scottish schools under the strong arm of the English forewent most, and in some cases all, of Scottish history and instead saturated young Scottish minds with a history that was not their own. Gaelic was banned in many schools, for no child was allowed to speak words brought forth by the “devil’s tongue” or so it was told.  I am often surprised to learn how many of my fellow Scots know little, or how many do not wish to know, of the dark past that envelopes the corners of Scotland’s history. Time has weakened the recollection of the past. It’s impact fading as the passing years continue to create a gap between what was and what is. However to those tossed upon the shores of circumstance, swept far away from the shores of Scotland, the yearning to return home has never ceased. It is a spark that has refused to fade and has continued to burn brightly through the generations, ensuring that history is not forgotten.

“We cannot live in the past” is a phrase that I have heard uttered often.  The very phrase suggests that history, before this moment, is irrelevant, that the past is nothing more than a tattered page, a distant echo of a memory that quietly disappears into the darkness. I have found however that it lives withing us, laying in wait beneath the shadows. As I turn on the news today I am reminded that until lessons from the past learned it will, with undeniable certainty, repeat itself. Therefore making it no longer a part of history but of the present.

Scotland is once again fighting for independence, fighting for what was stolen and never given back. It was never something that was for the taking. As I scroll through the daily thread of social injustice I come across those few who fallen victim to the same tactic of oppression that has been used against the people of Scotland, by the English, repeatedly throughout history. It is in fact comparable to Stockholm Syndrome. The method used by captors and others who feed off power to convince the victim that they need the villain to survive, that they are truly cared for, that without them they will surely perish. The truth is however that the captor is motivated by nothing more than their own selfish want and need for dominance. It is imperative to not allow the villain to continue to write the story of Scotland. One must ask the questions, what has been promised and not delivered? What has been taken and not given back? What does Scotland stand to gain through independence and what does England stand to lose?

The ghosts who walk amongst the valley’s of Scottish Highlands, cloaked in a haunting mist, beckon to us from beyond the veil of time, asking us to resurrect the memory of all that has been forgotten, asking us to resurrect the memory of those who rest beneath and marked graves. They did not die without purpose, they sacrificed all for all for freedom, they sacrificed all…… for Scotland.

“For as Long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any condition be brought under English rule. It is in truth, not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom, for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself








Leave a Reply