Inverness, maybe not the first city which comes to mind when thinking about a must see but it definitely is.
Where it lacks in sights the surrounding area doesn’t and as soon as you took the time for a stroll out of the city centre, you’ll enjoy beautiful views over the Beauly Firth and if you’re lucky you can even watch some dolphins.
Places close to Inverness you should have seen are definitely Culloden Battlefield and the Clava Cairns, sure there are a lot more but we’re going to focus on the City of Inverness, Clava Cairns and Culloden Battlefield (next post) here.
Maybe the oldest traces of living you can find in Inverness and the surrounding area are the Clava Cairns of Culdoich.
Inverness once has been on of the main castles of the Picts and was visited by Clumban of Iona in 565 who had the goal to proselytize the Pictish King Brude I who reigned from the hillfort on Craig Phadrig.
These days Craig Phadrig is more a local place to visit, since the hillfort is not to be seen that well anymore. If you look around on top of it, you can still see the ramparts but most iconic is the views from here. Inverness Castle might lie on top of a hill as well but the best views over the Beauly Firth and the whole surrounding area you’ll have when on top of Craig Phadrig (thought the views might partly be hidden due to trees, but non the less this is a great spot to just enjoy the beauty of Scotland).
Craig Phadrig can be easily reached by taking a bus from the city centre. An amazing way to get up and down is described in the below link:
But now back to history. Some of you might already know that on St Michael’s Mount, where now the Old High Church is situated, early Celtic monks founded a church with a wee monastery, which makes this an ancient place of worship which is still used today, even if with another religious purpose.
Way back also dates Inverness Castle, as a castle being positioned on the same spot, everyone of you who has seen todays castle is aware that it doesn’t date back to the reign of King Malcolm III (1058 – 1093), son of Duncan I, who erected the first Castle positioned in Inverness.
Shakespeare will know that in ‘MacBeth’ Duncan I was killed by his Cousin Macbeth, according to the play in Inverness castle, but the truth in history has Duncan I being killed at the Battle near Elgin which also fits way better to the fact, that Inverness Castle was built after Duncans death, but even for this Shakespeare had an explanation as simple as due to revenge Malcolm III crushed down the old castle and simply erected a new one on the same spot.
However strategic the position of Inverness is and always has been it was also source for many conflicts in the region. There are rumours about a battle in the 11th century between Malcolm III and Thorfinn from Norway at Blar Nam Feinne southwest of the city.
It has also been attacked by Hebrideans quite a lot mainly through the MacDonald Clan in the 15th century.
In 1187 Donald Bane led the Islanders into the battle at Torvean, against the Men of the Castle under Duncan Mackintosh. Both were killed during the fight. Bane is said to be buried under a pile of stones close to the river shores. 1968 a meticulously crafted silver chain has been discovered in that place.
More battles against the MacDonald clan were in 1340 the battle of Blairnacoi at Drumderfit hill, in 1411 and 1427 Donald of Islay and James I laid siege on the city. 1491 the MacDonald Clan and its associates stormed the Castle. 1554 the Munro Clan won over the Mackintosh Clan at the Battle of Clachnaharry west of the city.
Wilhelm I (‘The Lion’) granted Inverness four charters, within the right to erect Inverness Castle and city fortifications.
In 1233 Alexander II founded a Dominican monastery, of which just one pilar and a weathered knight portrait on an secluded graveyard close to the city centre survived.
During the Jacobite Risings until 1746 the Jacobite’s used the royal fortress as barracks. 1727 Fort George got erected.
Not far from the city of Inverness lies Culloden Moor, where the Battle of Culloden was fought in 1746, it ended the last big Jacobite rising from 1745 and with it the Scotland as it has been before. (For more of Culloden Battlefield and the Battle find the next post being uploaded)
If you are a person for museums you should check out the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery just below the Castle (which can’t be visited from the inside), the museum is for free but make to sure to leave a donation since such museums are part of keeping the culture of Scotland, which also lies in the past and history, alive.
Great Ways to explore Inverness are for sure the two following routes: they bring you past most places you should have seen in Inverness itself. When you finished them be sure to pay the Victorian Market in the City Center a visit, the beautiful little shops located here are a sight of themselves and in one of the wee cafes you can sit down and enjoy a nice tea or coffee.
Here you can enjoy views over the Beauly Firth and and maybe even spot some dolphins.
On the way back you can take a detour of just a few steps and pay a visit to St Marys Church.
This walk takes you away from the city center and far towards Loch Ness (sadly not completely till Loch Ness), it is a calm walk and definitely has it’s beauty. (I did this walk in the evening/night with a friends and it was a marvelous adventure).
Pay a visit to the Ness Islands when walking on this route. It offers an incredible view and a great time wandering through the trees.