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Archaeologists to search for lost Jacobite army camp near Stirling


The first survey of a potential site for the Jacobite army camp shortly before the battles of Falkirk and Culloden is planned for this August.

In January 1746, while pursuing the last siege of Stirling Castle, Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed at Bannockburn House, owned by local Jacobite supporters, and it is thought that some of his troops camped in the grounds.

The House itself became forfeit following the defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden later in 1746. The niece of the owner, Hugh Paterson, was the mother, Clementina, of the Prince’s only recognised child, Charlotte.

Archaeological survey

For the first time an organised archaeological survey is planned, by the Community Trust that bought the 17th-century house and its grounds in late 2017. 

Willie McEwan, vice-chair of Bannockburn House Trust, said: ‘We hope to establish the location of the camp and to find examples of both daily camp life such as cooking utensils and of the equipment men and horses would have used in battle.' 

Archaeologists from GUARD Archaeology Ltd will guide metal detectorists and diggers in carrying out the archaeological investigations. Volunteers are invited to come along and help with the archaeological survey of this site, which is adjacent to Bannockburn House. Details and how to apply for a place or to support the work can be found here and here and here.

‘This is a unique and exciting opportunity to try and resolve the mystery of where the Jacobite army camped in January 1746 before marching to the battles of Falkirk and Culloden,’ said John Atkinson of GUARD Archaeology Ltd.

The '45

The last great Jacobite Rising, the ’45 is one of the key events in British history. It finally settled years of conflict and features both the last siege of Stirling Castle and the last battle on British soil (Culloden). It resulted in the banning of tartan and the suppression of Gaelic culture across Highland Scotland. 

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Bannockburn House

In the summer of 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrived in Scotland to raise an army and march towards England to reclaim the throne. On his way south, Charles spent the night of 14 September at Bannockburn House. He reached Edinburgh the next day and took the city by 17 September.

It seems likely that there was a reason that Charles stayed at Bannockburn; perhaps the army command or the Prince himself was aware of the support of the house’s owner Hugh Paterson to the cause, and perhaps he had met him in exile in the years after the 1715 rising. However, is also possible that the selection of Bannockburn was solely for its practical location, near the road to Edinburgh.  

In early January 1746, Charles came back to Bannockburn House following the return of the Jacobite army from its unsuccessful invasion of England in 1745. Located so close to Stirling, this mansion, owned by strong Jacobite supporters, made for ideal headquarters for the prince and his staff to prepare for the siege of Stirling. 

Even though the city surrendered on 8 January 1746, the attempts of the Jacobite army to take Stirling Castle were unsuccessful and Charles became ill, forcing him to stay at Bannockburn. During his illness, he was nursed by Clementine Walkinshaw, the niece of Hugh Paterson III (Clementine’s mother, Katharine, was the sister of Hugh, formerly 2nd baronet of Bannockburn).

In many sources, Clementine is referred to as Clementina, and it is thought that she was named after Clementina Sobieska, the mother of Prince Charles, possibly creating the confusion about her name. She became the mistress of the prince, then followed him into exile in France in 1752. They had a daughter out of wedlock, Charlotte, born in 1753, who was officially recognised by her father in 1784.

(images copyright Bannockburn House Trust)

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