14 Things to know about Inverness Castle (2023)

Inverness Castle everything you need to know

Inverness Castle 2022

The Castle looks over the River Ness 2022

Firstly, let me explain why I put together a list of all the things you need to know about Inverness Castle. In particular, guests asked a lot of questions about our beautiful castle. And I wanted to answer as many as I could. Also, before the recent closure, people had been adamant about getting into the castle. I had advised them that the only way to get into the building would be to break the law! But at the same time explaining how they can eventually get legal access.

Can you get into Inverness Castle?

Inverness Castle closed in 2020 for refurbishment. The present castle was built in the 19th Century and the Sheriff’s Court has never been open to the public.

When will the Castle be open to the public?

Internal plan for Inverness Castle
Internal plan for Inverness Castle

The building will open as a visitor attraction after a program of renovation. Plans include making all areas accessible, rooftop viewing areas and platforms, café and gardens. The building should be opened in 2025.

How much will the renovation of Inverness Castle cost?

Inverness Castle under renovation 2023
Inverness Castle under renovation 2023

The refurbishment will benefit from £30 million pounds of investment.

Who owns Inverness Castle?

The Highland Council owns Inverness castle.

Who is paying for the Inverness Castle project?

Money for the update comes from the Scottish Government, the UK Government, Highlands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and several other partners.

Best place to view Inverness castle in 2023?

Hotels at Ness Walk Inverness
Hotels at Ness Walk Inverness. Look across the river to get the best view of Inverness Castle.

Right now, the 10 ft orange hoardings provide privacy and security during the renovations. Meaning you can see very little of the castle from Castle Street. Closed off is the walking access from behind Inverness Town House. If you want to see the castle and take a photo, the best view of the castle is from Ness Walk on the north shore of the River Ness.

Who built the first Inverness Castle?

King Malcolm the III in 1057 built the first Inverness castle. Malcolm Canmore was King Malcolm’s nickname. In Gaelic, it means Big Head! Malcolm had earlier destroyed a castle on Crown Hill, northeast of the present castle site. Shakespeare used artistic license when he wrote in his novel “Macbeth” King Duncan had been murdered at the site in 1040.

Workman assessing the well at Inverness Castle
Workman assessing the well at Inverness Castle. The well is the oldest part of the castle remaining.

Why did Robert the Bruce destroy Inverness Castle?

Robert the Bruce Statue at sunset Stirling
Robert the Bruce Statue at sunset Stirling

In 1308 Robert the Bruce visited the castle. However, he destroyed Inverness’s castle so that his Scottish and English opponents could not use it. The guards were slain and the castle was leveled to the ground.

Did Mary Queen of Scots visit Inverness Castle?

In 1562 Mary Queen of Scots arrived at the castle together with the Munro and Fraser Clan. Governor Gordon turned them away. The Clan Chief Gordon, who in addition was also the local Sheriff, did not support the Queen. The Queen’s supporters lay siege to the castle for three days. After gaining access the Governor was tried and then hung. The Governers head was then put on display on the castle.  On my walking tour of Inverness guests always look up to see if the head is still there! The Queen then stayed at the castle for four nights before moving to Spynie Palace in Moray.

Were the Jacobites visitors to the Castle?

Fort George was the original name for Inverness Castle. Jacobites seized the Fort in the 1715 uprising. Before the Battle of Culloden on the 16th of April 1746, the Jacobites took the castle from the garrison. Next, the Jacobites blew up the fort before heading to Culloden.  A new Fort George was built, on the shores of the Moray Firth.

Who is on the Statue outside the Castle?

Flora Macdonald’s bronze statue with a collie dog sits on a plinth in front of Inverness Castle.  Bonnie Prince Charlie, Charles Edward Stuart, escape after the Battle of Culloden with the help of Flora.

Why is the castle pink in colour?

Inverness Castle 2018
Inverness Castle 2018

Local pink or old red Tarradale sandstone makes up the castle. The Tarradale quarry is 14 miles from Inverness near Muir of Ord.

What are the red berry trees that grow on the banks of Castle Hill?

All along the bank in front of Inverness Castle you can see the red-berried rowan trees.  In Scotland, we believe that if you plant a rowan tree in your front garden it will keep the witches away from your door. And woe betides anyone who cuts a rowan down or uproots a self-seeding plant! What’s more, mountain ash is another name for rowans.

Does the rabbit population along the grass banks of the castle cause a problem?

Lastly, let’s look at the rabbit population. A survey in 2017 measured damage done by the rabbits. However,  the wild rabbits and locally abandoned pet rabbits caused no significant threat to the foundations of the castle. And now the Highland Council still, keeps an eye on the population in case of any future damage.

If you have other questions or things you want to know about Inverness Castle you can leave a comment.


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