Page last updated at 01:41 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Planting trees amid chaos of war

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Layering beech at Kilravock
The layering beech in the grounds of Kilravock Castle

In the Tree Garden of Kilravock Castle is what looks like a giant octopus.

Called a layering beech, its limbs snake out from a sturdy trunk and bend to the ground where they have taken root before twisting skywards.

More than 300-years-old, it is classed as "extremely rare" in the Forestry Commission's list of Heritage Trees.

It would have been relatively young at the time Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the castle in the days before the Battle of Culloden.

The castle and its grounds lie a few miles east of Culloden Moor.

The main problem was that the men were exhausted even before they set off on the night march. Some drifted away looking for food and sleep
Nicole Deufel
Culloden education manager

In a bizarre twist, Hugh Rose, the 17th Baron of Kilravock, played host to the warring cousins Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - and the Duke of Cumberland in the days before the Battle of Culloden.

According to the Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock by Rev Hugh Rose, a book later updated by historians Lachlan Shaw and Cosmo Innes, the Young Pretender stopped at the castle as his forces massed in the surrounding countryside.

The baron, who is thought to have had no role in the later fighting, played the prince's favourite Italian minuet on a violin before showing him his tree planting operations.

Feared reprisals

Bonnie Prince Charlie was said to have remarked: "How happy are you, Mr Rose, who can enjoy these peaceful occupations when the country round is so disturbed."

The following day - 15 April - the Duke of Cumberland headed for the castle, according to the genealogical deduction.

The book goes on to tell how the baron feared reprisals for hosting the Jacobite figurehead, but was told by the duke he could not have refused hospitality and had no choice but to treat him like a prince.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's portrait in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Bonnie Prince Charlie was said to have been bemused by tree planting

Kilravock Wood also played a part in the downfall of the Jacobite night march, according to historian Christopher Duffy's recent book The '45.

Soldiers were delayed as they negotiated a breach in a wall around the woodland and elements became lost among the trees.

Nicole Deufel, learning manager at the National Trust for Scotland's Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, said the night march was recognised as one of many factors influencing the outcome of the Battle of Culloden.

She said: "The main problem was that the men were exhausted even before they set off on the night march. Some drifted away looking for food and sleep.

"The story goes that, on their return, Prince Charles only slept for an hour and there was just one biscuit per man for food."

On whether the march could have succeeded, she said: "It's hard to say. There probably would have been another battle after this.

"A successful night march would not have prevented another battle in the future, but there may not have been a Battle of Culloden."



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