We are pleased to announce the title and theme of this year’s big build - The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne.
So what where the risings and why have we chosen them?
The Jacobite Risings, also known as the Jacobite Rebellions depending on the writer’s perspective, were a series of uprisings, rebellions and wars that occurred predominantly in Scotland, but also spread into Ireland and England, between 1689 and 1746. Following the deposition of James II of England and VII of Scotland in the Glorious Revolution, the aims of the risings were to return the Stuart monarch, and later his descendants, to the thrones of England and Scotland (and after 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain). They take their name from Jacobus, the Latin form of James.
While conflict broke out in 1689, 1715, and 1719, the most famous rising is probably the last, that of 1745. During the “Forty-five" Charles Edward Stuart, also known as the Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie, led an army from the Scottish Highlands as far south as Derby before retreating north to be decisively defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Culloden was the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil and marked the end of any serious attempt to restore the house of Stuart to the throne.
This year is the Scottish Government’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and so we wanted to take part in the celebrations. We were already building a Lego Broch for Caithness Broch Project and so wanted something that was from a distinctly different time period but also covered a more specific and pivotal moment in Scottish and indeed British history. The risings presented the ideal choice.
Given the extensive time period, the number of important events and the varied geography over which the risings took place, deciding on what to build was a real challenge. Did we choose to cover one rising or several? If one, which one? And did we choose a specific geographical area or try and create scenes from across Scotland, England and Ireland?
One of the things we felt was extremely important was to instill the model with a strong sense of identity and the best way to do this was through its landscape. When you’re building a model of around 17m2 good landscaping can mean the difference between its success and failure. Crucially, we therefore decided that the model should focus on a distinct geography rather than a particular rising. In terms of the latter, we did not want the model to become of smorgasbord of disparate historical events either, so it will be largely based on those of the “Forty-five". The advantage of the “Forty-five" is that it allows us to build features, such as one of the Hanoverian Barracks built following the 1719 rising, that did not exist in earlier periods. The flexibility around the date also allows us to show some events that occurred in the run-up to the rising, such as the flurry of road and bridge building typically ascribed to the British Government’s General Wade.
As for the geography, despite events of the “Forty-five" taking place over most of Scotland and indeed much of England, it was clear that we should set our model in the Scottish Highlands and more specifically, the highlands of the area now designated as the Cairngorms National Park. The area was witness to important events during most of the risings, including the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, the rising of James VIII and III’s banner in 1715 and the disbandment of the last Jacobite army in 1746, and is home to a number of buildings used during the conflicts, such as Ruthven Barracks, Corgaff Castle and Braemar Castle. The National Park also has an incredible landscape, with snowy mountains, ancient Caledonian forests, deep gorges, and idyllic straths and glens; it therefore provides us with an immensely rich palette to draw upon for what we hope will be a strong and distinctive model.
We’ll have more on The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne in the coming months, including the history of some of the model’s key features as well as write-ups of some of the field trips we undertook as part of our research. Stay tuned for more and if you haven’t done so already, keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
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