Guided Walks through 2,500 years of fascinating and often turbulent history – – for curious explorers of the past….
Hear about the city’s historical buildings, significant events, some colourful characters, plus much more….
- Inverness Castle and the real King Macbeth who occupied it
- Pictish King Brude & the Saint who tamed the Loch Ness Monster
- Why a skeleton has always lain under Inverness Police Station
- Roddie Mackay and his daring escape from the Tollbooth prison
- The predictions the 16th c Scottish ‘Nostradamus’ foresaw for Inverness
Inverness, (Gaelic – the mouth of the river Ness) is the ancient capital city of the Scottish Highlands. Also known as the ‘Gateway to the Highlands, throughout history it developed as the capital of the Northern Pictish Kingdom, a medieval Royal Burgh, a busy port and a lively and thriving market town.
Because of its strategic position at the end of the Great Glen and commanding the heights above the River Ness and the Beauly and Moray Firths it controlled the important trade routes to the north, south, east and west. Therefore it has always been a valuable prize to take and to own.
Although there were men whose names have been forgotten the first great leader of this area to be recorded was King Brude in the 6th century–the leader of the Northern Picts who had a stronghold in the hills overlooking present day Inverness . MacBeatha (from the Gaelic meaning Son of Life) the real-life Mormaer or warlord, who Shakespeare based his play on also controlled this region or Moray as it was then known in the11th century. . But unlike Shakespeare’s character the real MacBeth was, for his time, a very good king who ruled over all of Alba – or northern Scotland as it is today – for 17 years. He even went on pilgrimage to Rome to visit the Pope Leo 1X and even more surprisingly came back to his throne such was the respect he must have had from his subjects.
The armies of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Edward1 fought over and occupied the castle during the Wars of Independence and Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland- The Butcher’s troops all occupied it in the centuries that followed.
It began regular trade with Scandinavia, the Baltic ports, the Netherlands and France in the 13th century and prospered particularly in the 16th and17th century when its traditional industries of tanning leather were replaced by malting for the whisky and brewing industries.
In the Victorian 19th century, the coming of the railways brought a different kind of trade as those former industries declined or moved south in the form of tourism. The educated middle classes especially fell in love with the romanticism of the Scottish Highlands which Sir Walter Scott had helped to create. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had fallen in love with the Highlands from their very first visit and this too prompted the wealthier classes and aristocracy to follow in their footsteps – often buying estates from former clan chiefs or building news mock castles and shooting lodges to accommodate their families and friends who indulged in the sporting pursuits of hunting, shooting and fishing in their summer holidays.
Inverness has gradually over the last 150 years changed into the main transport , administrative, commercial and shopping hub for the Highlands -an important role for such a comparably small city of only 79,000 given that title by the Queen in 2000.
However, in many people’s hearts it is important for its quality of life, (one of the highest in the UK), its beautiful location at the top of the impressive Great Glen and as a launching off point for thousands of tourists to explore the beauty and the grandeur of the unique and internationally famous culture of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.