The Complete Guide to Visiting the Battle of Culloden Memorial in the Highlands

Last updated on August 21st, 2020


The Battle of Culloden Memorial near Inverness

The battle of Culloden was the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil, which saw the Jacobite uprising came to a final, bloody end in 1746. The battlefield is open to visitors and features a large museum and restaurant.

Category: Historic site, Landscape, Monument, Museum

Suitable for ages: 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years

Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers

I rate it: 8 out of 10

Culloden Battlefield

About The Battle of Culloden Memorial

The 1746 Battle of Culloden is famous not only for being the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil but also for being the final decisive defeat of the Jacobite forces which ended their claim to the British throne by the Stuart monarchy.

The events that lead up to Culloden began in earnest in 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart called the clans of Scotland together during a momentous rally that took place in Glenfinnan in the Highlands, and it was here that Charles – otherwise known as the ‘Young Pretender’ – began his challenge to reclaim the British throne for the House of Stuart.

You can read about the memorial to this Jacobite gathering in my Guide to The Glenfinnan Monument.

Culloden Battlefield

The Jacobite campaign is one of the most significant events in the history of Scotland and I think anyone with even a vague interest in Scotland’s past really owes it to themselves to visit this famous battle site.

Admittedly it doesn’t seem that impressive at first glance, but delve a little deeper and you’ll discover a fascinating account of the battle unfolding before you.

The site is managed by The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) who have done a really good job of showing where the battle lines were drawn and where each event played out thanks to the use of flags that indicate where each army stood, and stone plinths that describe what happened in each section of the field.

The NTS have also built a first-class visitor centre on the site which displays lots of exhibits from the Jacobite time, and they’ve included a very good cafe which is a little bit pricey but is good quality nonetheless.

Culloden Battlefield

Things to do at The Battle of Culloden Memorial

While the Jacobite rebellion faded away over time, their sacrifice on the battlefield is memorialised with a 20-foot tall memorial cairn that was erected in 1871.

Today, visitors to the battlefield can follow paths that lead around the main areas of the battle where information tablets have been installed so that you can identify where the lines of the British and Jacobite forces began.

The memorial cairn itself is an impressive structure and is often covered with flowers from members of the public with historic clan ties, while nearby there are a number of memorial stones which depict each of the clans that fell during that fateful day on 16 April 1746.

As you enter the battlefield you’ll see the Old Leanach cottage which served as a field hospital for the government troops, while the huge National Trust for Scotland visitor centre lies just behind it.

Although the visitor centre has an additional fee to enter you can walk up to the viewing platform on top to get a great view of the entire site, and a cafe and restaurant inside allow for a quiet place to relax after walking around the moor.

One word of caution when visiting the battlefield is that it’s as much a memorial as it is an attraction, so please be respectful while you’re visiting it.

There will undoubtedly be clan members who’ve gone there to pay their respects so you might want to give it the same consideration as you’d give to visiting a religious site.

Culloden Battlefield

The history of The Battle of Culloden Memorial

While the Jacobites had some success against the government forces of King George I, most notably by capturing Edinburgh and their win at the Battle of Prestonpans, they were unable to move any further into England than Derby and were eventually pushed back across the Scottish border by the much larger government forces.

As the Jacobites moved north and made camp in Inverness the English Duke of Cumberland drove his army to meet them for the final confrontation at Culloden, where around 8,000 government troops fought against 6,000 members of the Stuart army.

The training and discipline of the British forces overpowered the less-trained Jacobites, and within an hour of the battle starting it was over, with 1500 Jacobites lying dead on the moor compared to only 300 government troops.

The defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden signalled a major change to the Scottish clan way of life as the British government enacted laws to integrate Scotland with the rest of Britain, with the powers of the clan lords taken away from them and acts of parliament made to ban the wearing of clan tartan colours.

If you want to find more historic attractions read my Historic Places to Visit articles.

The highlights

  • It’s a haunting site and a must-see attraction for anyone interested in Scottish history. Plus, the main visitor centre is superb (if a little expensive to get in).
  • There are lots of information boards so you can understand how the battle unfolded.
  • Entry to the battlefield is free.

My top tips

  • Tickets for the nearby visitor centre are a bit pricey but you get free entry with a National Trust Scotland membership. You can get an annual NTS membership by clicking the advert below.
  • It can get busy at peak times so get there early. The car park gets jammed with coaches too due to the fact the battlefield seems to be in every single Scottish coach tour’s itinerary.
  • Fort George – the fortification built in response to the battle of Culloden – is around 7 miles north of Culloden and is definitely worth visiting.

Photos and video

Photo Gallery
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Virtual Tour

Scotland 360 Photo Tour
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Address and map

Culloden Moor,
Inverness,
IV2 5EU

Culloden is 5 miles east of Inverness off the A9/B9006. Follow the brown tourist direction signs leading to the battlefield.

Click map for directionsGoogle Map of culloden battlefield


Tickets and opening times

Pre-book your Culloden Battlefield tour tickets here.

Battlefield

  • Open all year, daily
  • There is no charge to enter the battlefield. Car parking charges may apply.

NTS Visitor Centre

  • 3 Jan–28 Feb, daily, 10:00–16:00
  • 1 Mar–31 May, daily, 09:00–18:00
  • 1 Jun–31 Aug, daily, 09:00–19:00
  • 1 Sep–31 Oct, daily, 09:00–18:00
  • 1 Nov–23 Dec, daily, 10:00–16:00
  • 24 Dec–26 Dec, closed
  • 27 Dec–30 Dec, daily, 10:00–16:00
  • 31 Dec, 10:00–14:00

Contact details


Facilities

Getting there: Car park on-site

Getting around: Easy-access paths, Disabled access, Pushchair access

On-site conveniences: Gift shop, Hot drinks, Restaurant, Snacks, Toilets