Chasing the Jacobite dream: new exhibition

31 May 2023
A new exhibition opening at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum this June reveals The Hunterian’s fascinating collection of Jacobite medals.

Chasing the Jacobite Dream highlights the extensive collection of historical medals associated with Charles Edward Stuart, the 1745 Rising and Battle of Culloden.

Jacobites were those who believed James II and VII (r.1685–1688) and his exiled Stuart heirs to be the rightful claimants to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. The men and women who rallied to the cause did so for many reasons, often transcending nationalities, politics, religion and social standing.

Get history news direct to your in-box with the History Scotland newsletter. Sign up here 

The story of the Jacobites continues to capture imaginations around the world but their legacy is often shrouded by myth and legend. Chasing the Jacobite Dream explores how medals played a key role in the foundation of this afterlife as powerful objects in a long propaganda war.

Able to be produced quickly to respond to events, struck in their thousands, easily transportable and transferable, medals were covert, hand-held weapons of subversion and propaganda. The British crown used issues to assert royal authority and humiliate their enemies. For Jacobites, medals were emotive symbols of loyalty and dynamic reminders to the faithful to chase the dream of a Stuart restoration.

Edinburgh Occupied by Prince Charles. Medal (obverse), bronze, 1745. Prince Charles Edward Stuart stands over an attendant holding a targe.

Content continues after advertisements

Highlights include:

  • a rare badge depicting Bonnie Prince Charlie worn by a soldier during the ’45
  • a scarce medal struck in Edinburgh during the city’s occupation by Jacobite forces in September and October 1745
  • a discreet medal designed to be worn as jewellery by supporters of the prince.

Visitors will also be able to see related prints depicting Bonnie Prince Charlie, a snuff box reputed to have been given by Prince Charles to one of his officers, and a sheet of banknotes printed from a salvaged printing plate which provide a glimpse of a Jacobite currency that never came to pass.

Sheet of Jacobite Banknotes from printing plate, Robert Strange, 1746, printed by Sir David Young Cameron, 1928. Each note depicts Charles’ ‘CP’ monogram topped with a coronet and three ostrich feathers, the badge of the Prince of Wales. 

Exhibition details

Chasing the Jacobite Dream coincides with Outlander Conference Glasgow 2023 (18–22 July 2023). 

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, 82 Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QQ; tel: 0141 3304221; website

Report and images courtesy of The Hunterian Museum.