Castles Near Inverness
Inverness is the start & end point of the North Coast 500 route (NC500). Following the theme of our recent NC500 castle blogs, we thought we should also take a look at the Castles near Inverness. They are certainly worth visiting, although there is one you might not want to see the inside of!
This isn’t a castle near Inverness, it is right in the middle of it!
Inverness Castle sits prominently above the river Ness. It has provided protection for Inverness from as early as the 11th century. Today’s red sandstone structure is much more recent however and was built in the 1800s.
Inverness Castle overlooking the river Ness – Image courtesy of Visit Scotland
Various fortified structures were built and demolished on this site over the years. Some witnessed the exploits of the Scotland’s more famous characters. Macbeth (the one Shakespeare wrote about) murdered the king of Scotland here. Then later, when a different structure was in place, Mary Queen of Scots had a scuffle to gain access to the Castle.
The castle is not open to the public these days, unless you’ve been up to no good! It now serves as the court house for Inverness, so perhaps it’s best just to view the splendid exterior.
Next on out list of castles Near Inverness, is Brodie Castle. It is located approximately 23 miles east of Inverness, between the towns of Nairn & Forres.
The Brodie clan built the castle in the 1500s. It was destroyed by fire during a conflict with the Gordon clan. Today’s baronial style mansion was built in the 1800s.
The National Trust for Scotland now operate the castle and it is open to the public year round.
None of our castle blogs would be complete without a ruin. Urquhart castle is one big, striking ruin and is one of the most intriguing castles near Inverness.
The castle’s history sounds all too familiar, if you’ve read some of our other castle blogs. It has been built, attacked & destroyed in the various wars of Scottish Independence over the last 800 years. This is doubtless due to its strategically important location, as well as it’s imposing size.
Urquhart Castle – Image courtesy of Visit Scotland
Several Not So Careful Owners
The castle was built in the 1200s on the western shore of Loch Ness. It was an easily defended stronghold with water around one side and a defensive ditch on the other. The castle was accessed by drawbridge, over the ditch, to a fortified gatehouse.
Fans of the film Braveheart will recognise some of the castle’s historical characters. Edward I of England (a.k.a. Longshanks) captured the castle in 1296. This was the start of the wars of Scottish Independence.
The castle was attacked several times and regularly swapped between English and Scottish rule. Urquhart castle ultimately remained in Scottish hands after Robert the Bruce cleared the great glen in 1307. It was not to be a period of peace for the castle however.
Frequent attacks and raids plagued the castle, right up to the Jacobite uprising. The final straw came in 1690 after a Jacobite raid. The castle was already in a poor state when escaping Union soldiers blew up the Castle’s gatehouse. New forts, which could be built more quickly and cheaply, were favoured over restoration of the castle and it fell into ruin.
Visiting Urquart Castle
Today the ruin is open to the public and is one of the most visited castles in Scotland. The journey south from Inverness takes about 30mins.