Some of our Museum Studies students tell us about a recent trip to Culloden Battlefield as part of their research for their upcoming exhibition ‘The Scottish Warrior’. Katie, Leston and Kelcy went to Culloden to gain more knowledge for their research into the Jacobite rising for the Curating an Exhibition course with Alanna and Alison in tow (any excuse for a day trip)!
‘We all got very excited about the high-tech display of letters written by Bonnie Prince Charlie where translations of the French were projected and appeared over the original. It’s something we would have loved to have in our exhibition if we had the resources and skills. The layout of the museum showing both the Government and Jacobite perspectives of the unfolding events on opposite sides of the museum allowed you to follow one or both of the stories. We thought this was very clever and provided a unique experience for every visitor.
Although the typical Scottish weather of drizzle greeted us upon our arrival, the sun decided to make a rare appearance when we moved onto explore the battlefield. Outside we wandered around most of the site listening to the provided audio-guide. This had the group divided with us enjoying the contextual information provided but other aspects, such as historical figures speaking about the battle, seemed jarring. While walking around we appreciated the Trust’s decision of allowing the site to return to its natural, boggy state as this allowed us to visualise how difficult it must have been to move across the area in the past when we were struggling to navigate the paths. Many trips and slips were taken but we all found the experience of walking around the battlefield profound and striking. This is especially apparent when looking at the sheer scale of the site even though only part of the battlefield remains intact. A film inside the visitor centre supplied a visual recreation of the battle and evoked an emotional response in all of us.
While the battlefield prompted more of an emotional reaction from the group, the visitor centre gave us lots of ideas for our exhibition and how we may display our objects more effectively. This includes ensuring that our case arrangements are three dimensional and utilise all available space, with the inclusion of photos, sketches and quotes. The display also provided the ‘Jacobite’ group with some useful ideas for interpreting the story of the Jacobites in relation to its Romanticisation in the nineteenth century. Overall this visit highlighted how important it will be to make our exhibition accessible to all by making it engaging to a twenty-first century audience.
Kelcy, Alison and Alanna also took a wee trip down to the Clava Cairns, a 30-minute walk from Culloden. This was a nice little detour for us – and if you have time in the area, and are interested in archaeology or the Neolithic, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Keep an eye on the blog and other social media for more trips, updates and peeks behind the scenes.’