3) Jacobites, Hanoverians, and the Making of the British State

Submitting Institution

University of Aberdeen

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Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Over the last decade a major body of historical research produced in Aberdeen has generated new insights into the making of the British union in the eighteenth century. In particular, this research has transformed historical understandings of events such as the Jacobite Risings which are of central importance in public conceptions of modern Scotland past, present, and future. This transformation has generated economic, cultural and public discourse benefits by facilitating the successful reconstruction of the National Trust Visitor Centre at Culloden, and through a major exhibition held in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and in the University of Aberdeen's new library exhibition space.

Underpinning research

Over the last decade, researchers at the University of Aberdeen, chiefly through the University's Research Institute in Irish and Scottish Studies, have led the field in re-examining the history of Scotland's experiences of the union in the eighteenth century, frequently setting those experiences in an explicitly imperial and global context. This work has challenged traditional views of the nature of Jacobitism and the tenacity of its resistance to the British union, thereby transforming the orthodoxy that the Hanoverian state had few if any competent strategies for seeking to accommodate the Highlands. These traditional views have in turn played a powerful role in informing conceptions of Scottish history, identity, and culture beyond the academy.

Particularly relevant has been a body of research re-examining Jacobitism in Scotland. In the early 2000s, Tom Devine (1 Sept. 1998 to 31 Dec. 2005) published major research on the development of the Scottish political nation and the way this in turn was shaped by Scotland's engagement with an expanding empire. (1) Similarly, Alan Macinnes (1 Dec. 1993 to 31 Oct. 2007) published significant work on both the persistence of, and increasing divisions within, Scottish Jacobitism and how these developments shaped Scottish engagement in the union of 1707. (2-3) Andrew Mackillop (appointed 1 Sept. 1998) has conducted ground-breaking research on the role of the Hanoverian state in securing the loyalty of key clan groups across the Highlands through their incorporation into the British military and the wider imperial project. This emphasis on `Hanoverian Highlanders' has challenged the popular conception of the region as wholly committed to the Jacobite cause. Mackillop's recent research has focused on the role of the eastern empire in shaping Scottish entry into the union, and in presenting the union in the context of European state formation more broadly. (4-6)

This research has highlighted several key findings, which were crucial in underpinning various impacts and public benefits. The examination of Scottish Jacobitism has challenged many crude understandings of the phenomenon, showing it to be a deeper and more continuous and significant strain in Scottish political culture than previously thought with a more complex and fragmented demographic. Equally, the research has presented the struggle between Hanoverians and Jacobites attending the eighteenth-century union as part of broader British, pan-European, imperial and global processes in the period. This research has challenged common understandings of the period pitching English against Scots, or Gaels against Lowlanders — misconceptions which have been crucial in popular conceptions of the Scottish past, and hence the Scottish present.

References to the research

(1) Devine, T.M. The Scottish Nation, 1700-2000 (London, Allen Lane, 1999).


(2) Macinnes, A.I. Clanship, Commerce and the House of Stuart, 1603-1788 (East Linton, Tuckwell 1996).


(3) Macinnes, A.I. `Jacobitism in Scotland: Episodic Cause or National Movement?', Scottish Historical Review, 86 (2007), pp. 225-252 (published on 1 October 2007).


(4) MacKillop, A. 'More Fruitful Than the Soil': Army, Empire and the Scottish Highlands, 1715-1815 (East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2000).


(5) Mackillop, A. `The Political Culture of the Scottish Highlands from Culloden to Waterloo', The Historical Journal, 46 (2003), pp. 511-532.


(6) Mackillop, A. and Ó Siochrú, M. (ed.), Forging the State: European State Formation and the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707 (Dundee, Dundee University Press, 2009).

All of these publications were subject to peer review by major academic publishers and scholarly journals, providing assurance that they meet the 2* threshold.

Details of the impact

The struggles between Hanoverians and Jacobites attending the formation of the British union in the eighteenth century (culminating in the failed risings of 1715, 1719 and 1745) are not only crucial episodes in the formation of the modern British nation state, but play a central role in understandings of modern Scotland. The fresh insights generated by Aberdeen research into the history of these events have had an impact on Scotland's heritage and tourism industry and on public discourse about Scotland by informing the reconstruction of the visitor centre at Culloden and a major exhibition at the Scottish Parliament, subsequently restaged in Aberdeen.

4.1. Stimulating Tourism and Generating Cultural Benefits Through the National Trust Visitor Centre at Culloden

This impact originated in work undertaken prior to the Census Period. In 2005-6 the National Trust for Scotland raised £9.5 million from a public appeal (£1.8m), the Scottish Government (£3.75m), the European Regional Development Fund (£2.4m), Highlands and Islands Enterprise Inverness and East Highlands (a company which `engages in promoting economic development by providing financial assistance and infrastructural support', £350,000) and the Bòrd na Gàidhlig (£200,000) to reconstruct its visitor centre at Culloden. This was the largest project the Trust had ever undertaken. (1,2) Mackillop's research specialisation in Hanoverian policy and Highland engagement on the Government side led to his being appointed as one of the Trust's expert advisors on its academic panel which had oversight of the formulation, structure and delivery of the Centre's historical interpretation. As a direct consequence of Mackillop's involvement, the principle of equality of interpretative space for Jacobites and Hanoverians was enshrined from the early planning stage. This principle of equality even directly affected the final interior with the adoption of a `Jacobite' and `Government' wall, where dedicated chronologies, themes, and examples for each side could be displayed and explained. On the basis of Mackillop's involvement, the Centre heightened the emphasis given to Gaelic-speaking communities and clans who actively supported the Hanoverians. It also highlighted Highland engagement with British imperialism in the decades after Culloden. (3) Finally, the Trust commissioned Mackillop to contribute an article to the Centre's guide book, selling c. 36,000 copies during 2008-11 and 8,154 between July 2012 and July 2013. (2, 3)

Much of this redevelopment work took place in 2006 and 2007, but the centre officially re-opened in December 2007. At that event, Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, described the battle as `a hugely significant part of Scotland's history' and praised a `first class visitor attraction and an innovative record of a vital part of Scotland's history'. (1) The work done at the Centre has had an ongoing impact during the census period. The ultimate beneficiaries of this re-opening include the NTS and visitors, not least parties of school children in visits arranged by the Trust. The redevelopment of the Centre saw an increase in visitor numbers. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 (prior to the redevelopment) the Centre received 87,340, 89,332, and 84,227 visitors including schools. Visitor numbers increased after the Centre re-opened: 2008: 125,687 (excluding schools); 2009: 109,437 (excluding schools); 2010: 94,292; 2011 (including schools): 96,200; 2012 (including schools): 96,424; 2013 (including schools, to the end of July): 61,389. Between March 2008 and July 2013 the Centre received a total of 25,307 visitors in school parties. During that period (and including schools from 2011) the cumulative total of visits to the Centre numbered 583,429. A comparison of average visitor numbers in 2005-7 and 2008-12 reveals that visitor numbers were 20 per cent higher in the later period. Even excluding 2008 (the year of the Centre's re-opening) and 2009 (the Year of Homecoming) and comparing 2005-7 with 2010-12 results in a 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers, suggesting that the impact of the redevelopment has been sustained. (2) A survey of 143 visitors to the Centre in 2011 and 2012 conducted for the NTS by Ronnie Cramond (former chairman of the Scottish Museums Council) concluded that the Centre was transforming visitors' conceptions of the battle. As Cramond commented to the Herald:

Almost all visitors surveyed said that the Centre had increased their knowledge significantly. Many highlighted new knowledge that had specifically surprised them about the battle, such as: that the battle was not between Scotland and England or between `Catholic' Highlanders and Protestant Lowlanders but rather that it was part of a wider international military and political struggle .... (4)

This changed understanding of the battle was precisely the area in which Aberdeen's research findings and Mackillop's contributions to the project were concentrated. (2, 5) Thus the redeveloped visitor centre saw an increase in tourist numbers combined with a cultural enrichment based on the findings of Aberdeen research.

4.2. `Rebels with a Cause: The Jacobites and the Global Imagination' at the Scottish Parliament, subsequently re-staged in Aberdeen University Library

A second impact came through a major exhibition at the Scottish Parliament from 27 October 2010 to 8 January 2011. This exhibition, as the first to be staged in the new Holyrood Parliament, testified to the profound contemporary political significance of the history of the formation of the British state. It also facilitated the Parliament's mission of `engag[ing] with the Scottish public and to delivering stimulating, educational public exhibitions that will attract a wide range of audiences...to the Parliament'. (6) The exhibition drew exclusively on the University's collections (Aberdeen has the largest collections of Jacobite-related material in the world after the British Library) and placed at its centre the global dimensions of Jacobitism, a major focus of Aberdeen research (as described in Section 2). The exhibition was co-ordinated by the University of Aberdeen's Archivist and Head of Special Collections. Mackillop was directly involved in the planning, and provided explanatory text displays on the nature of Scottish Jacobitism and Jacobite exile in North America and India. Members of the unit including Frost, Davidson, Mackillop and Morrison also contributed to a public lecture series which accompanied the exhibition. (6)

The opening of the exhibition featured in the Scottish press and was covered on BBC Radio's `Good Morning Scotland' and on STV. (7, 8) Over 24,000 hits were recorded on the Parliament's press release. The exhibition itself attracted 55,622 visitors during its three-month duration. Of those completing the exhibition's visitor survey, 70.2 per cent rated it good or excellent, and 69.1 per cent stated that they gained knowledge of the global dimensions of Jacobitism. A digest of visitors' responses to the question of Jacobites' contemporary relevance generated a broad range of answers highlighting the powerful resonance of Jacobites in contemporary Scottish political discourse. An analysis of this visitor feedback by the Parliament concluded that the key theme of the exhibition drawn from Aberdeen research (the complexities of Jacobite and Hanoverian support and ideologies) `got across'. According to visitor feedback, the exhibition also made an important contribution to public participation in political and civil life. 38.8 per cent of visitors travelled to the Parliament specifically for the exhibition. Prior to coming only 30.9 per cent of visitors said they were `quite' or `very' involved in the Parliament's activities; after attending the number rose to 45.7 per cent. (7) The exhibition was subsequently re-staged in the dedicated exhibition space at the University of Aberdeen's newly-constructed Sir Duncan Rice Library (see REF3A), generating further benefits locally. From November 2011 to March 2012 it attracted 10,496 visitors. Associated `Family Fun' days (143 attendees) and schools visits (148 pupils) shared the exhibition's findings with younger audiences. Feedback on the Family Fun Days was overwhelmingly positive with 97 per cent rating the content excellent (84 per cent) or good (13 per cent). (9)

Thus, the reconstructed visitor centre and Jacobite exhibitions presented a more complex, nuanced, and global image of Jacobitism to a wider Scottish public that drew heavily on Aberdeen research, generated cultural benefits for visitors and enriched Scottish political discourse, as well as yielding economic benefits through tourism.

Sources to corroborate the impact

(1) A Scottish Government Press Release dated 4 August 2008 provides details of the redevelopment and of the re-opening attended by the First Minister:

(2) A written statement by the then Head of Learning Services, National Trust of Scotland, testified to the account presented here. The additional statistical information has been supplied by the Learning Manager, Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre. Both the confirmation and the statistics are available on request.

(3) For Mackillop's contribution to the guidebook see, A. Mackillop, `Local battle, global war: Culloden and the international balance of power', in The National Trust for Scotland, Culloden (Edinburgh, 2007) (Official NTS Guidebook), pp. 13-15.

(4) The quoted material can be found in David Ross, `Centre Succeeds in Exploding Culloden Myths', Herald, 14 April 2012: http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/news/home-news/battle- centre-succeeds-in-exploding-culloden-myths.17304875?_=435dda8afaef821117a4a9cf02f7eba39c920f12

(5) Crammond's study confirms the way in which the Centre transformed visitor's perceptions of the battle. See R. D. Crammond, `The objectives of the National Trust for Scotland's Visitor Centre at Culloden Battlefield, and the educational effectiveness, for visitors, of its history content' (2012):

(6) For descriptions of the collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the Scottish Parliament, see the Scottish Parliament's press release on the opening of the exhibition, 24 September 2010: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/newsandmediacentre/25064.aspx.

(7) A 2011 Scottish Parliament Report on the `Rebels with a Cause Exhibition' describes the exhibition and provides visitor feedback; A 2010 report for the University of Aberdeen Advisory Group on Collections Strategy provides further references to coverage in the broadcast media. Both reports are available on request.

(8) For the media coverage of the exhibition see:

Copies are available on request.

(9) Visitor numbers and feedback for the exhibition and family fun day have been supplied by University of Aberdeen Library and are available on request.