April 16 is no ordinary day, especially for those who live in Scotland or have cultural connections to it. This is the 272-year anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, one of the most violent battles of the entire Jacobite rising. There were thousands either killed or wounded, and this proved to be one of the final confrontations between the Jacobite army and British loyalists.
This is a day of remembrance for many due to their ancestors; we are a television news site, and with that we do want to discuss the impact through the lens of Outlander. The story of Culloden was told both via the season 2 finale “Dragonfly in Amber” and then also in “The Battle Joined,” the season 3 premiere airing this past fall. The series reflected the garish nature of the battle, the high stakes, and the sense of fear that many had even more blood was first shed on the battlefield.
While the series did a very good job of portraying the battle to the best of their ability, one thing that we do not want to lose sight of at the moment is simply this: The impact the battle may have had on the television viewer.
Outlander is a series that is best known for airing on an American audience watching via Starz, and these same viewers are the ones who probably know the least about Culloden out of any large group of viewers. It’s not an event explained in-depth in school beyond maybe a paragraph in a world history book. Many have heard the name but do not understand just what it means. This is the power that lies within the series’ presentation: Giving you a sense of the key players, the events, the bloodshed, and the emotional consequences. It’s instructive while also used as a means of telling a larger story.
Because of the series, there is an interest in Culloden that there was not otherwise. We know that there are some out there who are out to paint this newfound interest in almost a negative light — just look at some of the stories that are online about the battlefield being “trampled.” While there are always those who take interest too far and don’t understand proper reverence, there are many who do. The vast majority of the footsteps on that field, we would wager, are those who want to experience just for a second what it was like for the Jacobite soldiers being on that field. They want to pay their respects after getting a better understanding from the series. While an influx of interest in a subject or a place may come with challenges, it can also be good. It allows for perspective and hopefully, a stronger sense of the horrors of war.
In some ways, the message that Sam Heughan leaves on his Twitter below speaks for itself.