For years there have been calls for 'something to be done’ with Inverness Castle. It is the town’s most iconic landmark, rising high above the River Ness, yet public access is forbidden.
It must be admitted that it is not the most elegant of structures having served both as courthouse and prison and built at a time when mass outweighed elegance. However, plans are afoot to turn it into a 'centerpiece for visitors to learn more about the city and showcase the Highlands as a tourist destination.'
The Scottish government and Highland Council have set up a working group and it will work with other bodes to achieve this end.
There has been a castle on Castlehill since the 12th century. Major building work took place in the early 16th century but it suffered severe damage during the civil wars and during the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 when the garrison ‘defaced the paintings tore down the wainscot, pulled up the flooring and broke down the great stair with iron hammers’. No doubt the Catholic sympathies of the Marquis of Huntly, whose castle this was, played a part.
After the Jacobite Rebellion on 1719 the government converted the castle to a modern fortification but retained old tower house as officer accommodation. In 1746 the castle surrendered when the Jacobites mined the walls whereupon they blew it up by powder.
It lay in ruin and despite numerous attempts to arrest further decay due to stone robbing by the locals these ultimately ended in failure.
The remnants were cleared away when the present red sandstone edifice was built between 1834 and 1846. All that remains of the old castle is a well.