I just finished Hugh G. Allison's "Culloden Tales." Mr. Allison is not just the author, but is employed by the national Trust of Scotland and has worked at Culloden for numerous years. His passion of the subject is evident!
I'm not sure what I expected when I ordered this book. However, the cover depicts a classic Scottish basket-hilt broadsword sticking out of a grassy field, and a discarded "targe" (shield) lies off to the side. The heavy overcast of sky is enhanced by the swords blade glittering in the rays of dying sunlight. Litteral or, symbolic, it draws you into the pages of the book as strongly as the shrill of the bagpipe!
Mr. Allison immediately advises the reader what his intentions are in the book during his Introduction and Prologue. He lays out the contents perfectly and follows each sub-title exactly as he indicates he will.
The first part of the book quickly shoots the reader through the ancient history of Scotland and then, proceeds into the time period of Culloden. I admit, that despite the author's excellent format structuring, I became somewhat lost in the quagmire of the Stewart (Stuart?) dynasties, and those of Hanover. Perhaps, my American ignorance of royal family linage is partially to blame.
Despite the cousins, uncles, and other familial conglomerations, Mr. Allison keeps the reader attuned to numerous facts which include such specifics as: "The battle of Culloden was not a war between England and Scotland: it was a British Civil war between the houses of Stuart, and Hanover." Further, "It was not a religious war between Catholic and Protestant, but Protestant Presbyterian versus Protestant Episcopalian," and ...many more reasons that the reader will discover.
Allison mentions numerous Clans who participated on both sides, but mainly that of the Jacobites. He describes some of the Clans and their battle positions within the attacking frontal assault. He also tells where these Clan members fell in realtionship to the overall battle. Apparently, many rocks are placed throughout the battlefield where these Clansmen are buried. However, an aerial photo of the historic site would have been more helpfull for readers such as myself.
Allison supplies numerous photographs of rock monuments showing the inscription of Clan names, but again... without a visual reference to their overall positions. Furthermore, he mentions some new artifacts which recently came to light, but...not a drawing or photograph to help the reader visualize them.
Perhaps, the most interesting part of the book is ...Part Four. Part Four centers on certain stories handed down to descendants of the battle participants and "Naturally...the Supernatural!" Many of these collected ghostly stories from those who work there, or have simply visited the site are truly interesting!
All in all...a good job Mr. Allison!
My mother was a Campbell and...the words to an old folk song of the 60's played in my head as I read the book. The words went something like this:
"The cry of the raven rang over the moors; the drums were calling the Clans to war. Then,it's good by Mum and Mary, I'm off to war to fight for the honor of the son that you bore. Never forget who you are my son, never dishonor the Clan, for your fathers before you they died in the fields...died for our green pasture lands. And over the hill lies brave Bobby Campbell ...the gun still clutched in his hands..."
Grab your sword and dirk! Culloden is calling!!!!