In 1982 a soldier from the United States was enrolled in Celtic studies at Saint Francis Xavier University. As he found out that survivors of the battle of Culloden had settled and were now buried in Knoydart he decided to find out more. The first celebration of the battle of Culloden was held that year, with the student and a local, Joe MacDonald, who had shown him around.
The two went to the Cairn, and remembered the soldiers with a drink of whiskey. In the following years they began inviting people and the celebration, over 33 years grew to what it is now.
“They celebrated the first time, just the two of them,” said Michael Anderson, a descendant of one of the original Scotsman who had survived the battle.
The celebration has grown into a community affair, beginning with a piper leading everyone to the Cairn, followed by prayer and wreaths. Afterward there is a dinner and ceilidh held in the community center.
“It showcases our community,” said Anderson. As a descendant Anderson has been attending for about 30 years only missing a couple because of work.
“I want to say everything,” he said about his favorite part of the ceremony, finally settling on “seeing its success.”
With mostly adults turning out usually, this year had a few younger participants when a few children from a school attended as well. The attendance this year, which was slightly higher than previous years, was greeted by a sunny day, which was not as cold as it had been in previous years.
“It’s the first outside event of the year,” said Anderson, a few other events with a Scottish theme follow the even later on in the summer, such as the Festival of the Tartans, and the Highland Games.
“It’s a cultural thing,” said Anderson. “In some ways you should know where you come from to continue in life.”