Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 01:42 UK

Team gears up for Jacobite march

Detail from Finlayson map. Pic: NLS
The Finlayson map was among those studied by the march team

A team is preparing to recreate the Jacobite night march of 15 April, 1746.

It is believed to be the first attempt to re-enact the trek from Culloden to the outskirts of Nairn on the same date and at about the same start time.

A few thousand men drawn from Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces tried, but failed, to launch a surprise attack against Hanoverian camp.

With time running out, the Jacobites turned back for Culloden just miles short of their objective.

The modern day march will be led by archaeologist Dr Tony Pollard, director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow and an expert on Culloden.

Members of re-enactment group Battlescar will also be on the march.

Culloden, on 16 April, 1746, was the last major pitched battle fought on British soil
The battle was over in about an hour
More than 1,500 of the fallen were buried on the moor

They are expected to gather at Culloden House - Prince Charlie's former headquarters and now a hotel - from 1800 BST on Wednesday.

On the internet communication service Twitter an account called NightMarch has been set up and tweets will be posted giving short details of the march.

Given the superiority of the opposing army 263 years ago, the Jacobite high command came up with a plan to surprise the Duke of Cumberland's troops as they slept off their celebration of his 25th birthday while in camp on the western edge of Nairn.

The Jacobites' planned assault was carried out in darkness and driving rain, with men from the local Mackintosh clan serving as guides across about 12 miles of moor and rough roads.

However, in the early hours of 16 April - the day of the Battle of Culloden - the Jacobites aborted the attack and turned back.

'Absolutely genius'

It was believed that some of Charlie's men were only a mile from the camp.

Others were thought to have started making their way back from Kilravock - pronounced Kilrawk - and returned to Culloden via Croy, while others may have reached Knockanbuie, or the Kildrummie area.

Ian Deveney, of Battlescar, and six others made a re-enactment of the Jacobites' retreat south from Inverness following the defeat at Culloden.

The seven covered 42 miles over three days wearing authentic clothes right down to buckled brogues on their feet. Mr Deveney and two others of his team will don the same gear for the night march.

He said: "The route the marchers will follow must be fairly close to that taken by the Jacobites. They followed a ridge that drops to one side down to the River Nairn."

Hugh Robertson, a costumes interpreter with the re-enactment group Fire and Sword, said: "The idea of the night march was absolutely genius.

"The Hanoverian Army would not have expected any force to come over, but though my sympathies lie with the Jacobites they faced a professional army superior in numbers and fire power."

Wednesday's marchers have referred to various historical sources to find the most realistic - and safest - route to follow.

The Finlayson map held in the collection of the National Library of Scotland and maps at Inverness Museum and Gaelic website Am Baile have provided guides.

The walk - which comes in the year of Homecoming Scotland - will also be in aid of Erskine, a charity which provides care for for ex-servicemen and women, and is supported by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology.

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