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Historic battle gets a new front

Culloden is one of the most evocative place names in Scottish history, a byword for a shattering blow that ended an era, writes Henry Hepburn

Yet while Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobites were routed by the Duke of Cumberland, the romanticism of his cause remains as potent as ever.

A new pound;9 million visitor centre at Culloden - the largest building project ever undertaken by the National Trust for Scotland - opened officially this week and aims to channel interest in the Jacobites through entertaining educational experiences.

The centre has created separate experiences for the 5-14 age group and older pupils. There are two main themes: one asks how we know what happened in the past; the other looks at crucial decisions and circumstances.

Younger pupils' version of the first sees them become "Culloden detectives", charged with finding out what happened on Drumossie Moor on April 16, 1746. They dress up in contemporary costumes and go through a number of activities with a guide in similar garb before passing through the centre's exhibition and finishing outside on the battlefield.

For the second theme, the younger age group learns about the context for the battle by looking closely at the type of people caught up in it.

Although the educational experiences do not begin until May 1, many schools have been to the new centre since it opened in December.

Nine-year-old Ewan O'Hare, a P5 pupil at Glasgow's Hyndland Primary, visited last month. His favourite part was the "battle zone", in which clouds part and the events of the battle are played out before visitors' eyes.

The tragic end to Culloden also left a profound impression: "I think the saddest part was when we saw the graves - just these lumps of grass where the people died."

Bookings are being taken for the educational experiences. Email ndeufel@nts.org.uk.

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