Heather collected from Culloden Moor thatches famous cottage

Purple-flowering heather collected from Culloden Moor is being used to re-thatch Leanach Cottage on the battlefield.

Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 7:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 7:15 pm
Neil Nicholson and his apprectice Marion of Hebridean Thatching Services at Leanach Cottage, Culloden. PIC: NTS.
Neil Nicholson and his apprectice Marion of Hebridean Thatching Services at Leanach Cottage, Culloden. PIC: NTS.

The heather is being drawn from the surrounding area by expert thatcher Neil Nicholson from Hebridean Thatching Services.

The thatching is part of the Trust’s ongoing conservation project at Leanach Cottage with the popular property to re-open to visitors later in the year.

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Raoul Curtis-Machi, the new operations manager at Culloden Battlefield, at Leanach Cottage. PIC: NTS.

Mr Nicholson, a thatcher for 23 years, said: “We feel really proud to be working here.”

“We use whatever is growing locally. Heather was on it before, with reed beneath for waterproofing. We need a good-size heather – the longer the better.”

Hazel will be used to fix the thatch to the supporting roof beams with stones and rabbit netting to cover the roof once it is in place.

A couple sit by The old Leanach cottage which will open next year to the public following renovation and restoration. PIC: TSPL/Robert Perry.

The conservation work is being done with grant aid from Historic Environment Scotland.

The cottage was likely used as a field hospital during the battle and likely treated wounded British soldiers.

The last occupant of Leanach Cottage was Belle MacDonald who lived here until her death in 1912.

Her family apparently gave tours of the battlefield to interested visitors as the Victorian railway brought tourists into the Highlands.

NTS was gifted Leanach Cottage in 1944 by landowner Hector Forbes and it became the original visitor centre in 1961.

Raoul Curtis-Machin, operations manager at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre said: “Here at the National Trust for Scotland we are working towards a vision where Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected for future generations.

“This is a good example of our charity’s vision in action.’

“The work on Leanach Cottage, which was occupied until 1912, is scheduled to finish at the start of September, when the heather’s purple colour will begin to fade.

“This very special cottage is the only building remaining on the battlefield from the time of the conflict.

“Government forces burned down the barns associated with the cottage when wounded Jacobite soldiers were found hiding there.”

Our many visitors from both the UK and overseas are so interested in Leanach Cottage and we are looking forward to opening the doors once again and allowing people to experience this part of the Culloden story.’

The work at Leanach Cottage is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s programme to invest almost £60 million over the next five years.