A secret Jacobite Society has heard - on the 272nd anniversary of the Battle of Culloden - that ground penetrating radar may well have discovered a mass grave of Highlanders massacred after the battle.

History says that 16 of Bonnie Prince Charlie 's officers, found hiding in the dungeon at Culloden House, where Prince Charles stayed the night before the battle, were taken outside by Redcoats and shot and buried by the "Bargas Tree" in the grounds.

The tree - an English Elm - complete with leg and neck irons - is long gone as is a commemorative 1.5m high stone with the inscription "Here lie soldiers killed by the English after the Battle of Culloden"

READ MORE: Urgent repairs required at Culloden Battlefield after influx of Outlander fans

Only a small grassy knoll remains where the tree once stood.

Now a geophysical survey has shown three pits under the mound.

Robert Cairns, chairman of the Lochaber Archaeological Society, which commissioned the research, broke the news to the secretive A Circle of Gentlemen founded in 1747 the year after Culloden, the last battle fought on British soil.

He said:"We are very excited about the results. The mound has three distinctive pits in it so obviously it is quite significant. It is not something that you would normally find in the mound. We are planning to put in a small trench later in the year to see if there are any human remains in in the largest pit. We are confident we will find human remains. Then it will become a war grave".

A metal detector survey of the surrounding lawns of the four star Culloden House Hotel uncovered a number of important finds including mid 18th century half pennies, pistol and musket balls, an iron buckle or clasp, military shirt buttons, a set of 18th or 19th century ploughshares , an 10cm ornamental brass base and part of a sword blade.

READ MORE: Culloden homes plan will lead to 'degradation' - academic

Robert Cairns was speaking at the Circle's annual Lament for Culloden lunch at posh Culloden House Hotel.

David McGovern (45) a traditional stone carver from Monikie in Angus a member off A Circle of Gentlemen said afterwards:"It looks like we have found the martyrs' graves. History has always said they were buried there but now modern science seems to have confirmed it. We look forward to the results of the dig. This was the first atrocity in what was to become by all intents and purposes genocide".

On April 16, 1746 Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion to restore the Stuarts to the British Throne came to a bloody end as the government army, led by Charlie's distant cousin William, the Duke of Cumberland, defeated the Jacobites mostly made up of Highlanders on bleak Culloden Moor.

The reprisals were swift and bloodthirsty.

The slaughter at Culloden House was one of the first acts in the reign of terror to follow ending the Highland way of life forever and earning the Duke the nipckname "Butcher Cumberland".

READ MORE: Urgent repairs required at Culloden Battlefield after influx of Outlander fans

A Tartan Army with banners flying marched in the footsteps of their ancestors in remembrance on Saturday.

Around 500 dressed in plaid,wearing their blue bonnets and armed with claymores and dirks, led by a pipers, held a solemn service at the memorial cairn in the battlefield.