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Ancient tree around when troops marched on Culloden lives on in gifts marking battle's 275th anniversary to support National Trust for Scotland fighting fund

By Ian Duncan

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Raoul Curtis Machin, right, toasts the new gifts.
Raoul Curtis Machin, right, toasts the new gifts.

AN ancient beech tree, which may have witnessed the troops marching to Culloden, has been crafted into gifts to help mark the battle’s 275th anniversary.

Almost 300 years on, the tree, which was felled to build a new bridge over the River Nairn near Cawdor, has been milled and dried and now lives on in some special commemorative products in an award-winning shop at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre.

The National Trust for Scotland at Culloden has commissioned 275 special whisky and gin presentation packs to commemorate the battle which took place near Inverness on April 16, 1746.

As well as marking the milestone date, the unique collectables will raise money for Culloden’s Fighting Fund which aims to protect the land surrounding the battlefield from development.

Raoul Curtis Machin, operations manager for Culloden, said: “It’s incredible to think what sights that ancient tree might have witnessed. It would likely have been a 25-year-old adolescent, growing near the historic village of Cawdor, when the men marched to the battle at Culloden and scattered afterwards.

“But the tree’s timber will live on for posterity in the form of these beautiful coasters which, together with the engraved glasses and drinks, will make a unique and highly collectable present while contributing to a great cause – helping to preserve the integrity of the battlefield.”

Each presentation pack comprises a numbered engraved whisky or gin glass, an exclusive Culloden 275 malt whisky or gin miniature and a numbered wooden coaster, all in an attractive presentation box.

The wooden coasters have been made from the 300-year-old beech which grew near Cawdor and was possibly a young tree which troops marched past on their way to the battle on Drummossie Moor.

The woodwork and engraving have been skilfully crafted by Burgess Hay and his son Scott Hay, the famous bagpipe makers from Dunphail near Forres, who have family links back to Culloden.

A plaque at the Culloden Visitor Centre entrance bears Scott Hay’s name from when he was one of the two schoolboy bagpipers invited to open the building.

The unique, limited edition package will retail for £100. All money raised from sales of the 275 whisky packs and 275 gin packs, will go towards the Culloden Fighting Fund.

There have been growing concerns in recent years over the threat of inappropriate developments on or close to parts of the battlefield which extend beyond the area owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

To find out more about the Culloden Fighting Fund, visit www.nts.org.uk/campaigns/cullodens-fighting-fund

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