The city is dominated by its red sandstone castle. Built in 1834, this Victorian edifice is very much the new kid on the block in terms of Scottish castles.

The original castle dates from the 12th century and was built on a ridge to the east of the present structure. Nothing remains of the old castle, which is unsurprising given its bloody and eventful history. It was here that King Duncan of Scotland was slain by Macbeth, an event dramatically (and erroneously) portrayed in Shakespeare's eponymous work. The castle was occupied three times during the Wars of Independence in the 13th century, and when Robert the Bruce recaptured it in 1307 he destroyed it. In the mid-17th century Cromwell ordered his men to build a stone version on the same site. In 1715 James Francis Edward was proclaimed king there, but not long after it was destroyed by the Jacobites to prevent it from falling into enemy hands following the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden.

The present castle houses the Sheriff Court and also stages the Castle Garrison Encounter, where you can sign up as a mid-18th-century soldier. New recruits (that's you) pass through the Quartermaster's Store and are introduced to the Sergeant of the Guard, before being accosted by a female camp follower and finally led out through the garrison shop. Info - Mar-Nov Mon-Sat (Sun only in Jul/Aug) 1030-1730. Tel. 243363.


Around the castle

On the castle terrace is a statue of Flora MacDonald, to honour her part in helping the prince to escape. Below the castle is Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, on Castle Wynd beside the Tourist Information Centre . During summer and autumn this wonderful museum, complete with cafe to rest tired feet, underwnet a £1 million refurbishment. Scheduled to repen in time for the year long Highland 2007 celebrations, the museum provides an overview of the history of the town and the region, while the gallery hosts some special exhibitions that have included paintings by the Scottish colourist JD Fergusson.Info - Mon-Sat 0900-1700. Free.

Just around the corner, on High Street, is the Gothic-style Town House, where Prime Minister Lloyd George held an emergency cabinet meeting in 1921, the first ever to be held outside London.

Baillie Macdonald of Clanranald Mackintosh Munro Shaw of Tordarroch
01463 243 363
41 Castle St, Inverness IV2 3DU
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Wednesday, 28 March 2012 6 Print