Your Scottish cruise might well pass through the charming highland capital of Inverness. |
High above the town on a cliff is the very impressive Inverness Castle, which appears to be an icon of mediaeval might. The views from it across the town are spectacular but not all is as it seems!
Inverness – Steeped in History
This important town was once a Pictish stronghold and its history goes back as far as perhaps the year 400CE.
In its early history, as was common with many castles during the period, it was surrounded by violence and warfare involving people and causes that are now long forgotten by all other than specialist scholars.
Perhaps the first commonly-known name associated with it was Macbeth, who may have had a castle here on a site slightly away from where the present castle stands. That was destroyed and a new one built to replace it.
Over the next several centuries, the site changed hands many times and numerous famous people would have known it. Certainly Mary Queen of Scots stayed here (and hanged the castle’s governor in the process) and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army also built a large fortification on the site from which they ruled highland Scotland until the restoration of the monarchy.
Over all these centuries, the structures on the site were constantly destroyed and re-built by various parties. For example, in the earlier 15th century it was sacked by the Lord of the Isles fighting for control of much of northern and north-western Scotland with the King in Edinburgh.
It’s a fascinating series of stories and violent history to discover as you drift along on that Scottish cruise!
The Castle Today
As a stop-off point on a Scottish cruise Inverness Castle has some lovely grounds that are open to the public. If you take a stroll through them, the views over the river are very impressive and you get a feeling as to just why this has been an important trading centre for millennia.
While the Castle is magnificently impressive you won’t actually be seeing the ancient or original stones. The current building was actually only constructed in the 1830s and very little remains of any earlier structures.
Strangely the castle today is nothing more than a set of fairly uninteresting local government offices and that seems rather incongruous given the history of the site. Also, at the time of writing, the buildings are not open to the public though this is under review.
While you’re in the area try, if you can, and get to the relatively nearby Battlefield of Culloden, where the Jacobite cause finally met its, some would say, inevitable doom. It’s very evocative and tragic – the visitor centre is also excellent.
Inverness is a charming spot and don’t forget to try some of the local delicacies while you’re there – such as smoked fish and the local haggis – yes, it really is delicious!
It’s a great place to experience on a Scottish cruise through the Highlands. Do enjoy it!
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury Scottish cruise barge holidays. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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