We’ll o’er the water, we’ll o’er the sea, We’ll o’er the water to Charlie; Come weal, come woe, we’ll gather and go, And live and die wi’ Charlie.
This new Scotland Tour with our historian Chris Anderson explores Bonnie Prince Charlie, the War of British Succession and the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
The history of Scotland can be looked at as a serial fight for independence. The author Sir Walter Scott is quoted as saying, “Where is the coward that would not dare to fight for such a land as Scotland?” By 1745, Prince Charles was the third generation of the Scottish Stuart monarchy in exile, and he took it upon himself to fight for the restoration of the Stuart crown to the throne of Great Britain and for Scotland’s right to self-government.
Charles entered Scotland in disguise and began raising an army to fight British forces in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Even though Charles’s resources were limited, the Jacobites moved south through Scotland, then made it all the way into England, very nearly entering London.
Their luck ran out at Culloden, where they were slaughtered in a bloody and savage fight. The Battle of Culloden settled the issue of which royal House – the Protestant Hanoverians or the Catholic Stuarts –would rule Britain. The House of Stuart was crushed, along with the hope of an independently governed Scotland.
The defeat of the Jacobites profoundly affected the country. Highland clans and culture were eradicated and northern lands were confiscated by the crown; executions and mass migrations of Highlanders left much of Northern Scotland barren and depopulated. In fact, so many Highlanders fled to North America that today there are more Scottish descendants in the United States and Canada than there are Scots in the whole of Scotland.
Despite past blows to the Highlands, the landscapes throughout Northern Scotland retain their romance and beauty. At many of the sites we’ll visit, we’ll see locations used in the Starz cable channel’s Outlander series.
In the wake of The ’45, many Highlanders took advantage of the trade routes already established between Glasgow and the colony of Virginia to leave Scotland, just as they had fled a century before by way of the linen trade routes between the Philadelphia and Europe. Settled here, they introduced flax farming and linen production in the colonies and took a prominent role in fur trading.
In Canada, Scottish immigration began in earnest in 1621, when the King of Scotland granted Sir William Alexander a charter to develop a settlement on Prince Edward Island that the King named Nova Scotia, or, New Scotland. Many of the Scots who fled after The ’45 established settlements with names like Calgary, Glengarry and Inverness. Scottish immigrants are considered a founding people of Canada and are the third-largest ethnic group in the country.
Scottish immigrants played leading roles in forming the governments of what were becoming the new countries of North America. Scotts were instrumental in writing the founding document of the United States, and of the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence, 19 were Scots. In Canada, its first two prime ministers, Sir John MacDonald and Alexander Mackenzie, were Scotland-born.
Though Scotts had left their homeland primarily because of poverty, famine, politics or persecution, they quickly took leadership positions in their new homes. The list of Scottish influences on Canadian and U.S. politics, business, trade unionism, the military, education, architecture, literature, music and the arts is startling and impressive.
Transplanted in the new world, Scots developed a culture rich with their traditions. Over time they became Scottish Americans and Scottish Canadians, with a deep investment in the new countries they helped to shape.
Our tour will visit some important sites of the The ‘45, see first-hand the traditions that have so influenced the U.S. and Canada, and travel through some of Scotland’s most awesome, wild lands.
Glenfinnan – We’ll visit the site where Prince Charles raised the House of Stuart standard on his arrival in Scotland in September 1745. This was also the site from which he fled back to France after the Jacobites’ defeat at Culloden.
The Jacobite Express – This old-school steam train, famous as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express, will take us from Fort William to Glenfinnan. This trip is considered one of the world’s most breathtaking railway journeys. We’ll cross the Glenfinnan viaduct, steam past Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, and see some of the Highland’s most stunning landscapes.
Glencoe – This is the site where, February 13, 1689, the MacDonalds of Glencoe were slaughtered in a subversive action engineered by the government to look like a conflict between Highland clans. This massacre, which left the dead lying in their beds and fleeing in blizzard snow, was a defining event in Scottish history, damaging the historic relationship of trust between clans.
The College of Piping – Since 1944, the College of Piping has preserved the treasured heritage of the Great Highland Bagpipe. Students here learn to master the instrument whose expressive and distinctive music, identifiable all over the world, defines an important part of Scotland’s identity. On our first night we’ll enjoy a group dinner and a piping performance here.
Highland Folk Life Museum – Here is where we’ll get a taste of authentic 18th Century Highland life, walking through a meticulously recreated village and seeing the museum’s collections of artifacts.
Edinburg Castle and Holyroodhouse – Charles spent extended periods here, consulting with his military advisors and enjoying the perks of presiding over the first Stuart court since James II’s exile in 1688.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo – This annual event is a spectacular showcase for military talent, including pipes and drums, Highland dancers and precision marching formations, with a thrilling fireworks finale.
Prestonpans Battlefield – This is the scene of the first great Jacobite victory. By outwitting the British commanders, the rebels gained the element of surprise, then led their attack with a line of fierce Highlanders wielding broadswords.
Dalwhinnie Distillery – At an altitude of 1,070 ft. above sea level, Dalwhinnie is the highest distillery in Scotland, giving it access to the clear, cold water from melting mountain snow. Dalwhinnie has been making whisky here since 1897, but the distillery was completely renovated in the 1990s. We’ll be among the 25,000 visitors who make the trip each year for a tour and a tasting.
Culloden – In April 1746, the Jacobites faced government forces on the open field and in the muck of Drummossie Muir at Culloden. This savage battle would be the last of the Rebellion and in its aftermath many Highlanders would begin a great migration to North America, leaving the Highlands desolate. We’ll discuss the strategies, accidents and missteps that contributed to this decisive battle.
Itinerary to be announced.