On the eve of a battle that changed Scotland’s history, a bizarre incident was a horrifying omen of the slaughter to follow. On 15 April 1746 at Culloden Moor in the Highlands, British troops prepared to engage the army of Charles Edward, the Stuart prince who sought to recover the British throne.

At the Scottish camp that night the air was suddenly filled with spine-chilling screams, and the troops saw a monstrous, harpy-like apparition hovering overhead. It resembled a great bird with leathery bat-like wings, burning red eyes – and the head of man. Later dubbed the skree, the creature seems to have been more than just a pre-battle hallucination. A reliable eyewitness was Lord George Murray, a general renowned for his level-headedness. The horrendous apparition eventually departed and was never seen again. The next day’s battle brought disaster for the Scots – with the skree had gone the hopes of the Young Pretender and the Stuart dynasty.

 

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