In 1746, the battle of Culloden was fought between the Jacobites and the Duke of Cumberland’s best. In less than an hour, over a thousand lay in the fields having been brutally defeated by the latest in (what was at the time) modern warfare. Fast forward over 200 years, and modern technology now sits on the precipice of being the key to preserving the memory of the events and those who fell on that fateful day.
Today, on those windy battlefields, there stand the flags to commemorate where the two sides lined up, poised for attack. Headstones mark where the clans fell, and in the visitors centre one is able to follow the stories of both sides as they led up to the battle, their motivations and their journey. And it is this visitors’ centre that one can see the power of crowd funding and how it has been used to keep alive the memory of those who fell on that day back in 1746.
Wander in, out of the blustery conditions, and after being hugged by the warmth that greets you inside the building, you will be met by a scroll on the ceiling that seems to extend for almost as far as the battlefield itself. The first question you find yourself posing is “Are these the names of the fallen?” A small plaque on the wall then makes it clear – the surroundings are all made possible through the power of crowd funding.
The owners of each of the names on the ceiling have been offered their position on the honour roll in exchange for their contribution of at least £50. This “reward” is a simple yet sufficient inducement for hundreds of individuals, families and companies to have reached into their pockets to support the “campaign” which is to ensure that the centre is maintained so that visitors to Culloden can hear about one of the most fascinating events in English and Scottish history. The “story’ is told well – through pictures, interactive exhibits, videos and the display of artefacts from the day.
To date, the campaign has been run “manually”, as it has only been communicated through the onsite signage visible to those who visit the centre. Effective as it has been, imagine if the campaign, the story, and the offer of the rewards had been taken online, and spread out to a far broader, global crowd. If tens of thousands of pounds has been raised from the thousands of people coming through their doors, surely there is potential to raise far greater sums from the millions of people who could potential visit a crowd funding page if one were set up for the cause.
Culloden not only signifies and commemorates history and those who died in battle back in 1746, but today shows the power of the crowd to support a passionate story, told well, with sought-after rewards (which cost the project creator very little), and all communicated to a motivated band of supporters.
As you pass through the fields, you cannot help but being reminded of history and wonder how the future generations will continue to relive the memories, if not through the power of crowd funding.