Picturesque Culloden cottage that survived infamous battle and inspired Outlander's Diana Gabaldon

Leanach Cottage sits on Culloden moor and was there for the infamous battle in 1745
Leanach Cottage sits on Culloden moor and was there for the infamous battle in 1745 -Credit:National Trust for Scotland

As the sole surviving building on the site of one of Scotland's most infamous battles, the cottage upon Culloden moor is steeped in history. And its story has since inspired one of the best-loved book and film series of recent years.

Leanach Cottage remains standing on the battlefield where the Jacobite rebellion ended in 1745, when the clansmen hoping to restore the Stuarts to the throne via Bonnie Prince Charlie were slaughtered by the British government forces.

The hardy homestead is believed to have sat behind the Redcoats' lines and may even have served as a field building for the wounded. But it is what happened after the battle that is the most interesting.

Many people believe Leanach is the building - or at least an outbuilding - mentioned by Eric Linklater in his book The Prince in the Heather. The book tells of Bonnie Prince Charlie fleeing the country after his forces were routed on the moorlands.

And it describes how around 20 wounded Jacobite warriors took refuge in a farmhouse after the fighting ceased. A passage within it tells of all of the men being found by the Redcoats, taken outside and shot, except for one man: "a Fraser of the Master of Lovat's regiment", who survived.

Speaking to National Geographic in 2014, Diana Gabaldon said that she read the book as part of her research into Outlander and used it as inspiration for the story's hero. She had already thought to name him Jamie, after a character in a Doctor Who episode, and realised that if she wished him to survive Culloden, then "his last name better be Fraser".

Leanach Cottage has survived for hundreds of years
Leanach Cottage has survived for hundreds of years -Credit:National Trust for Scotland

The initial book, first released as Cross Stitch, was a success and has led to a full series, with the 10th - and believed to be the final - novel currently being written by Diana.

Its fame skyrocketed after it was commissioned as a TV show by Starz, with Scots actor Sam Heughan becoming a global phenomenon for his turn as hunky Highland hero Jamie Fraser.

Jamie does survive the battle after huddling together with fellow wounded fighters in the cottage, and he is eventually reunited with soulmate Claire and they travel to America to start a new life.

And Leanach also survived, remaining inhabited until 1912. Land owner Hector Forbes then donated the stone-walled, thatched-roof building to the National Trust for Scotland in 1944.

It was used as the initial visitor centre for the battlefield, with work being done to restore the cottage to its former glory and making it even more historically accurate. They rethatched the roof with heather sourced from Culloden moor itself, with local tradesmen working on it.

It was closed in the early 2000s after a modern visitor centre was built but is now used to house temporary exhibitions relating to the battlefield. These include research about new archaeological discoveries, people’s connection to the battlefield, and the threats to the Culloden moor in modern times.

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