Fort William

Fort William and Ben Nevis

Fort William

The towns history dates back to 1654 when General Monk built the towns first fort at the mouth of the River Ness and named it Inverlochy. The adjacent village on the site of the present town centre was established around the herring industry and was originally know as Gordonsburgh.
In 1690 the fort was enlarged and renamed Fort William after the monarch and the village became Maryburgh after the Queen.

The fort withstood the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745 but could not withstand progress in the 19th century when it was demolished to accommodate the railway.
The town of Fort William became a busy tourism centre in the 19th Century with the advent of the railway, the Caledonian Canal and the west coast steamers that plied there way up Loch Linnhe.

West Highland Museum - Fort William

Full of local history from Neolithic to Jacobite times, including the helmet of James Graham, Marquis of Montrose the victor of the Battle of Inverlochy.

Battle of Inverlochy 2 February 1645

This was between the army of the Marquis of Montrose and the Covenanters under the command of the Earl of Argyll. Montrose had been as far north as Fort Augustus when he learnt of the advancing Covenanters and decided to return to Inverlochy. The army in several wings surrounded the Castle and about 1300 Covenaters were massacred as they fled.

Inverlochy Castle

Situated at the mouth of the River Lochy it is thought to be the second castle on this site. The first structure was suggested to be in existence in the 700's and was surrounded by a rich and cosmopolitan city. It is here that King Achaius is supposed to have signed a treaty with Charlemagne. After that date the Vikings destroyed the castle and community.

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle

The second castle that is now in ruin dates from the 13th century. It started as the stronghold of Sir John Comyn of Badenoch then passed to the Bruces and then the Huntly Gordons. The castle was at the centre of the Battle of Inverlochy and was in ruin shortly after, prior to the building of the new fort by General Monk some one mile south west.


This is just off the route to the west of Bunarkaig between Loch Lochy and Arkaig. This is the home of the Clan Camerons of Lochiel. An earlier castle was burnt to the ground after the 1745 uprising and Culloden as reprisal for the part the Camerons of Lochiel played in supporting and hiding Prince Charles Edward Stuart after the battle of Culloden (1746). In 1802 a new building was established and this later became a commando training centre at the time of World War II. Also close by is "The dark Mile" and avenue of Beech trees planted by the Camerons of Lochiel, this having some romantic connections with the 45 uprising. This is also known as Mile Dorcha.


This was the land of the MacDonells of Glen Garry, and they were staunch Catholics and Jacobites. This resulted in the castle being frequently attached and rebuilt first by General Monk in 1654 then in 1689. Then Bonnie Prince Charlie supported its rebuilding around the time of Culloden but after 1746 it was finally destroyed by the Duke of Cumberland in revenge for the Jacobites.
Invergarry is also known for Pig Iron, a trading deal between the MacDonell's and Thomas Rawlinson from England in 1727. The Invergarry foundry used English ore and local charcoal and was the first foundry in the Highlands

Alasdair MacDonell, 15th of Glengarry was the person Sir Walter Scott used as the character of Fergus MacIvor in the novel Waverley.

There is also the Well of the Heads. This commemorates a time in the 17th century when Keppoch chief of the clan Macdonell sent his two sons to France for education. On Kepoch's death his seven brothers ran the estate and when the sons returned they murdered them. A family friend Ian Lorn however sought revenge and having slain the seven brothers washed the heads in the nearby spring and presented the washed heads to the Noble Chief of Glengarry Castle.


It is here that Prince Charles Edward Stewart reviewed 2000 men fighting in the Jacobite cause as he march south in August 1745.


St Benedict's Abbey Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus

This was a community developed around the network of Wade military roads which sprung up after the 1715 Jacobite uprising. The original fort on the site of the present Lovat Arms hotel was replaced by a stronger fort built in 1730 and this became incorporated at a later date 1867 into the Abbey of the Benedictine monks.

The town got its present name for Wade who named the community of Kilchumein (after St.Chumein an early abbot of Iona) after William Augustus who became the Duke of Cumberland. After the 1745 uprising the Duke took the fort as a hunting lodge. This fort remained a garrison up until the canal opened in 1822 and by 1867 it was sold to Lord Lovat, descendent of an executed Jacobite.

A native of Fort Augustus and now buried in the protestant graveyard is John Anderson (died 1832). John was a carpenter and friend of Robert Burns and he is supposed to have made Burns' coffin. He is remembered in one of Burns' poems," John Anderson, My Jo John".

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle - Drumnadrochit

This ruined castle has a long history stretching from the iron age through to the Covenanters and Jacobites in the late 17th century. In 1691 as the Government Troops were withdrawing they blow up parts of the castle so that the enemy could not re-occupy. From them on the castle has remained in ruin, but is now under the care of Historic Scotland.
Early in 2002 a new visitor centre was opened overlooking the Castle and this has a very comprehensive audio visual presentation on the Castle along with exhibitions, refreshments and shop.


This is a community at the head of Urquhart Bay and the foot of Glen Urquhart. This has developed with the official Loch Ness Monster Museum and the now developed Urquhart Castle visitor centre.

Up the glen and close to Cannich is the Clava Cairn and ring of 11 standing stones. South of Urquhart Castle on the loch side is a monument to John Cobb who died in 1952 while attempting the world water speed record.


This area has long been occupied, the first civilisation being thought to have occupied the area to the west of the river Ness in 500 BC. This area was again occupied in the 6 and 7th centuries in the form of a Fort at Craig Phadrig. This may have been the headquarters of King Brude (King of the Picts). It is also suggested that St Columba met Brude at Craig Phadrig. Archaeologists have been able to determine that the building was rectangular and of a wood and stone construction. Other remnants of 7th century habitation are to be found at the Clava Ring Cairn in the Raigmore area of the city.


Inverness from west bank of the River Ness

In the 11th Century a new fort was built, likely to have been of timber, it was to the east of the present castle mound. Some of Shakespeare's Macbeth is written around King Duncan and this castle. The present site was first used around the turn of the 12th century and this was a stone castle which was in existence when King David granted Inverness Royal Burgh status. This castle was the subject of frequent skirmishes between the keeper of the castle and the Lord of the Isles, seeing visits by King James I, III & IV. In 1718 it was extended by General George Wade at which time it was renamed Fort George. This castle was however destroyed following the 1745 Jacobite uprising by supporters of Prince Charles Edward Stewart (the Young Pretender).

Today's castle was built in 1830's and is still being used by the crown as a courthouse.

Throughout the earlier periods of Inverness the development was driven by the towns location as the only practical crossing point between the North of Scotland and the rest of the country. The flat and fertile plans at the mouth of the Ness were the point where ferries and them bridges could allow passage north and south. It was also a port with trade to England and the Baltic, a mart and administrative centre. With the advent of the network of roads built by General Wade, then the Caledonian Canal in 1822 and the railway links in 1854 and 1898 the town took on a new trading and tourism role, and much of the City of today has architecture from this period.

St Andrew's Cathedral

St Andrew's Cathedral

The cathedral of St Andrew was consecrated in 1869, this fine Gothic design was meant to have spires rising above the twin towers, but lack of money prevented this development. Inverness is now seen as the Capital of the Highlands and was recently made a City. It houses the administrative centres for much of the Highlands and is also its cultural centre. Due to "its long river frontage, the distant hills and the quality of the light, the city retains its peculiar character, not Highland but decidedly north of Scotland" (Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland).

To view other interest sections click History - Chronology of Scottish Monarchs, Interest Section - Great Glen, News Section - Great Glen.

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