Scottish Castles Photo Library
- Inverness Castle

Photo copyright Scotavia Images.

Because of its location at a crossing point of the river Ness near its exit to the sea, Inverness has been an important location at least since the days when the capital of the Picts was probably near present-day Inverness. Several hundred years later, King Malcolm III (Canmore) destroyed a castle here which had belonged to Macbeth. The castle was captured by the English during the Wars of Independence but was eventually taken back by King Robert the Bruce in 1310.

The castle was rebuilt around 1412 by Alexander, Earl of Mar (son of the infamous Wolf of Badenoch) erected a new building. During the long-running dispute between the Scottish monarchs in Edinburgh and the MacDonalds and their allies, Alexander, Lord of the Isles, plus 50 Highland chiefs, were summoned to Inverness Castle by King James I in 1427. The monarch immediately imprisoned them all until they pledged allegiance. Not that this lasted for long - the Lord of the Isles returned two years later and torched the town. His son captured the castle in 1455 and supported the Douglas family in their disputes with King James II. He eventually had to submit to King James III in 1476.

By the mid-17th century the castle was in a poor state of repair and Cromwell built an alternative fortification nearer the mouth of the river (called "The Sconce", a Scots word for shelter from the wind). King Charles II ordered it to be destroyed in the 1660s, after the Restoration. The old castle (by now renamed Fort George) was blown up by the Jacobites after Culloden in 1746. The new Fort George was built at Ardesier and is still used by the British army. All that remains of the original castle in Inverness is a well - the present building was erected in 1835 on the original site. It is now used as the Sheriff Court and Police Department.

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