It was about a year ago that a lady I know mentioned to me in passing the gravestones believed to be hidden in deep undergrowth in Culloden Woods. She’d been told about them by a historian. I’ve walked those woods for years and had never come across them, but then Culloden Woods does cover a huge expanse of land. She very kindly explained to me the general vicinity of the woods they were meant to be, and on a sunny blue-skied Sunday in November 2017, Andy and I decided to set out to find them.

We stood in the woods at a crossroads looking out over many pathways before us, each heading in a different direction. Andy said to me “This is going to be an impossible task. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack”. Looking out ahead of us, his words rang true.

Regardless of how impossible the task felt, he took one pathway, I took another, and within 5 minutes we could no longer see one another. I was walking up a well-trodden path, when something hit my left foot and I stopped. I looked down at my wellington boots, and on the top of my left foot a rather oddly shaped stone had landed. I didn’t take a photo at the time, but have re-created it for you below…

As I looked down at what evidently seemed to be an arrow pointing towards the right, I felt I was being guided to turn off the path, follow the arrow and wander into more dense woodland. So I did. I could feel something almost tangible in the energy around me, but couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Whatever it was, it felt friendly.

My mobile rang, and it was Andy wanting to know where I had disappeared to. I could see him in the distance on a main path, so I guided him to where I was so that we could continue our search together. He asked what I was doing off the main path, so I showed him the stone and told him that I really needed to follow my intuition on this one. Although he’s a man of logic and wasn’t quite sure what logic to apply to what I was doing, after many incidents that he can’t explain, he’s come to know that there is something much greater than us out there… He trusted what was unfolding without question. I love that he does that.

It took less than two minutes from when we began the search together, to walk directly into the undergrowth where the graves were. They were in the opposite direction to the path I had initially taken, until that stone had landed on my foot and guided me off that path and in another direction entirely. The stone had literally pinpointed the location of the graves to me, and had landed with enough force on my foot to stop me in my tracks and make me look down. Without it, we would most likely have wandered aimlessly for hours.

Through the undergrowth Andy saw the unmistakable shape of a grave, looked at me, shook his head and smiled.

This is what we were looking at…

A closer shot of that headstone “This cross is erected by her sorrowing brother and sister”.

Just around the corner on this mound of earth was more undergrowth to work through, where we found these…

Many of these stones have words engraved on them, but it’s no longer legible unfortunately.

We are currently making enquiries to find out more about the stones, and have taken a descendant of the Forbes family of Culloden to see them. We hope to hear more soon and will continue our research.

Meantime, whoever was with us on that day, thank you…

7 Responses

  • judy taylor

    this is all so wonderful to read my dad was born in tayport scotland i did visit there 13 yrs ago i love scotland

  • Ian Short

    That is the remains of the York family burial ground, there also used to be a mausoleum there which is what the large blocks are.
    I am led to believe that the bodies were removed when building tower road near the burial ground.
    Who the York family were, I’m not sure. But I’d like to know as Culloden wood was my childhood playground.

    • Thank you Ian, Culloden Wood is a beautiful place. I’ve spent many an hour in there. Really appreciate you taking the time to share this info with us.

  • Ian Short

    This is the remains of the York family burial ground, the large stones are whats left of a mausoleum, my dad and his friends used to watch the stars lying on the roof in the early 70’s. The bodies were removed around the time they built the adjacent tower road. Who the York family was I’m not sure. But it’ll be interesting to find out.

    • Very much appreciate this information Ian. Thank you so much for sharing it. Have a great weekend.

  • Shannon Skinner

    This is a really wonderful piece. I live 5 minutes away from culloden Woods and go up to the prisoners Stone regularly, where my grandparents ashes are. Would you be able to give me some rough directions to this? I’d love to find it!

    • Hi Shannon, I could arrange to meet you and take you to the graves if you like. Kind regards, Di.


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