Inverness Castle

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Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Inbhir Nis) sits on a cliff overlooking River Ness in Inverness, Scotland. The red sandstone structure evident today was built in 1836 by architect William Burn. It is built on the site of an 11th-century defensive structure. Today, it houses Inverness Sheriff Court. There has been a castle at this site for many centuries. The castle is not currently open to the public, however a recent campaign has led to the creation of a working group to explore the possibility of doing so in the future.[1] In April 2017 the north tower of the castle was opened to the public as a view point. At present, only the castle grounds and the north tower are open to the public.

History of Inverness Castle[edit]

Medieval history[edit]

A succession of castles has stood on this site since 1057.

The castle is said to have been built by Malcolm III of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Macbeth of Scotland according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Duncan I of Scotland, and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east. The first Inverness Castle was partially destroyed by King Robert I of Scotland.

In 1428, James I, in his effort to bring the Highlanders to heel, summoned fifty clan chiefs to a parley at Inverness Castle. However, "where the Parliament was at the time sitting, they were one by one by order of the King arrested, ironed, and imprisoned in different apartments and debarred from having any communications with each other or with their followers."[2] Several chiefs were executed on the spot. Among those arrested were Alexander, 3rd Lord of the Isles, and his mother, Mariota, Countess of Ross. Lord Alexander remained imprisoned for twelve months, after which he returned to Inverness with 10,000 men and burnt the town, though he failed to take the Castle.[3] See: Siege of Inverness (1429).

The castle was occupied during the Raid on Ross in 1491.

Mary, Queen of Scots[edit]

Historic view of Inverness Castle

In 1548 another castle with tower was completed by George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly (1514–1562). He was constable of the castle until 1562. The castle was later taken by the Clan Munro and Clan Fraser who supported Mary Queen of Scots during the Siege of Inverness (1562). Robert Mor Munro, 15th Baron of Foulis, chief of the Clan Munro was a staunch supporter and faithful friend of Mary Queen of Scots and he consequently was treated favourably by her son James VI.

George Buchanan states, that when the unfortunate princess went to Inverness in 1562 and found the gates of the castle shut against her; "as soon as they heard of their sovereign's danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries in the north". These two clans took Inverness Castle for the Queen, which had refused her admission. The Queen later hanged the governor, a Gordon who had refused entry.[4]

George Buchanan's original writings state:[5]

Which translates in English as:

Other sieges of Inverness Castle[edit]

There were later sieges of Inverness in 1562, 1649, 1650, 1689, 1715 and 1746.

£50 note[edit]

An illustration of the castle has featured on the reverse side of £50 note issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was introduced in 2005.[6]


The current Inverness Castle was built in 1836 on the site of the original. To improve the more recent castle, a gas, light, and water system was installed.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Inverness Castle's tourism potential to be explored". BBC News. BBC. 15 August 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  2. ^ Mackenzie, Alexander (1894). History of the Mackenzies. Inverness. p. 69. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  3. ^ Oram, Richard D., ed. (2014). The Lordship of the Isles. Leiden: Brill. p. 90. ISBN 978-9004279469. Retrieved 15 February 2017.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Clan MUNRO
  5. ^ George Buchanan's (1506–1582), History of Scotland, completed in 1579, first published in 1582.
  6. ^ "Current Banknotes : Royal Bank of Scotland". The Committee of Scottish Clearing Bankers. Retrieved 17 October 2008.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°28′35″N 4°13′32″W / 57.47631°N 4.22550°W / 57.47631; -4.22550