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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Inverness

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Inverness is the administrative center for the Highland region, which consists of the old counties of Inverness, Nairn, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness. The town has benefited from its sheltered position at the mouth of the Moray Firth and at the northeastern end of the Caledonian Canal. In the sixth century Inverness was the residence of Pictish kings and in 565 St Columba visited the town to pay his respects to Brude, king of the Picts. Given the town's favorable location at the gateway to the Northwest Highlands, Inverness has become a busy tourist center and it makes a good starting point for excursions.
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Inverness Castle

Exterior of Inverness Castle.
It is said that Duncan was killed by Macbeth in the old fortress which lay to the east of the present castle, but Cawdor Castle or Glamis Castle north of Dundee may have witnessed the cruel deed that Shakespeare immortalized. The first castle was built by David I in the middle of the 12th C but some 500 years later Cromwell ordered his men to build a stone castle on the same site. In 1715 James Francis Edward was proclaimed king there and the last time it was under Jacobite control was during the short reign of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" in 1745. After the Battle of Culloden when the "Young Pretender" was defeated, the Duke of Cumberland ordered it to be burnt to the ground. The present Victorian castle was erected during the first half of the 19th C and the premises are now used as offices.

Flora MacDonald Statue

A statue on the Esplanade recalls the part Flora MacDonald played in helping "Bonnie Prince Charlie" to escape through enemy lines after the disaster at Culloden.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

The museum on Castle Wynd illustrates Inverness's rich cultural heritage and also the history of the Highlands.
Address: Castle Wynd, Inverness IV2 3EB, Scotland

St Andrew's Cathedral

The Neo-Gothic St Andrew's Cathedral (1866-1869), designed by Alexander Ross, stands opposite Castle Hill on the banks of the Ness.
Address: 15 Ardross Street, Inverness IV3 5NS, Scotland

Abertarff House

Church Street can boast Inverness's oldest building, Abertarff House, which was built as a town residence for the Lovat family in 1592. Note the remarkable outside staircase. It was restored by the National Trust for Scotland in 1966 and it now serves as their Highlands Region head office. The Highland Association, an organization whose aim is to advance the Gaelic culture and language, is also based at the house.
Address: Newhailes Road, Musselburgh EH21 6RY, Scotland

Culloden

Culloden is a flat, marshy tract of land ringed by alders and buffeted by the wind. It was here in the northeastern corner of Drumossie Moor on April 16, 1746 that the last great battle was fought on Scottish soil. The fate of the "Stuarts" was determined once and for all and the incorporation of Scotland into England was cast in stone.

Visitor Centre

Donations and sales at a nominal sum enabled The National Trust for Scotland to acquire this battlefield site between 1937 and 1959. Bit by bit it has been restored to the state it was in during the 18th century. The Visitor Center has been extended more than once in order to meet the requirements of the many tourists who visit this historic site. The audio-visual presentation portrays "Bonnie Prince Charlie" as an irresponsible adventurer rather than as a romantic hero.

Memorials

On both sides of the old road (laid out in Victorian times and widened by the NTS) lie the gravestones of the Scottish clans which Duncan Forbes, the owner of Culloden House, erected in 1881. He was also responsible for the 20ft/6m high memorial stone which commemorates the Battle of Culloden. On the nearest Saturday to the date of the battle, the Gaelic Society in Inverness holds a service beside this memorial to remember the battle and those who died in it.
Old Leanach Cottage, the last farmer's cottage from the days of the battle has been faithfully restored and the melancholic sound of the Gaelic folk song "Mo run gealog" (My beautiful young darling) drifts from its rooms. Cumberland Stone marks the spot at the eastern edge of the battlefield where the Duke of Cumberland is said to have issued the orders to his troops. The whole field is strewn with stones which bear witness to the dead. For example, the Keppoch Stone (accessible from the northern footpath) indicates the spot where Alastair MacDonell the head of the Keppoch clan fell, and another recalls the Irish Wild Geese (mercenaries in the service of the French crown who fought on the side of the Highlanders). The "English Stone" (west of Old Leanach Cottage) commemorates the dead who fought alongside Cumberland.
Address: Newhailes Road, Musselburgh EH21 6RY, Scotland

Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns on the south side of the River Nairn have nothing to do with the battle. The mounds of stone surrounded by stone rings probably date from ca. 1800-1500 B.C. and are among the best preserved of their kind in Scotland.
Address: Newhailes Road, Musselburgh EH21 6RY, Scotland

Battle Site

On April 16, 1746 the troops of Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") lined up to face the Duke of Cumberland in what turned out to be a bloody but decisive battle. The Jacobites, supporters of the Scottish king James II, had laid claim to the British throne and faced the army of George II, the Hanoverians. In the previous year the 25-year-old "Bonnie Prince Charlie" had returned from exile in France to the Hebrides. He had gathered the clansmen around him and marched south in order to assert the claims of his father against the Hanoverians. By the time he had reached Derby, fear of the impending attack was already widespread throughout London, but stricken with melancholy and indecision, fearing there was little support for him in England, he turned back. Furthermore, many of the clansmen had deserted him; homesickness and the wish to be back home in Scotland for the harvest proved to be a stronger emotion than the prospect of military success. Near Inverness the prince and his troops set up their winter camp and waited for the soldiers of the Duke of Cumberland as they headed northwards. On April 15 the duke celebrated his 25th birthday with a feast. When the Jacobite troops heard about this they set off through the night to surprise the enemy camp established by the River Nairn. But as they approached the camp, the sun rose, so they turned round and many fell asleep by the roadside exhausted - until the duke's Redcoats found them and slit their throats. By choosing the level surface at Culloden for the battle, the result was already clear. The Highlanders, experienced in mountain warfare, knew only one tactic: advancing by surprise attack - the rest was close man-to-man combat. Culloden, however, was tailor-made for the rested, disciplined and organized army of Lord Cumberland (including three Scottish regiments) and their artillery. About 5,000 clansmen opposed 9,000 Redcoats. Battle commenced at around noon when Cumberland's musketeers let loose a hail of shots from three-pounders and hand mortars. Charles hesitated about sending in his feared Highlanders armed with claymores. The element of surprise, noise and fear were supposed to put the enemy on the defensive, but the attack was slow and badly co-ordinated and many men were quickly lost. In less than an hour the Scottish army, weary from their night-time march, were soundly beaten.

Beauly Priory

Beauly (pop. 1,500; 12mi/19.2km west of Inverness) owes its title "beau lieu" to the magnificent location of a priory which was founded by French Valliscaulian monks ca. 1230. The west portal and sections of the main nave (restored in the 16th C by Bishop Robert Reid) have survived and the fine tracery on three windows of the south side dates from the 13th C.
Address: Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Jedburgh TD8 6JQ, Scotland

Highland Riding Centre

This riding center offers short and long treks along the coast of world-famous Loch Ness. There is also an indoor riding school approved by the British Horse Society. Rides can be arranged by the hour or as part of longer holiday stays.

Surroundings

Nairn, Scotland

The pretty resort of Nairn (pop. 10,200; 14mi/22.4km northeast of Inverness) lies at the mouth of the River Nairn and overlooks the Moray Firth. Several golf courses are within easy reach of the town which also boasts a long sandy beach.

Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle is situated almost 10mi/16km northeast of the Culloden battlefield by the B9090. It was here, according to Shakespeare, that in 1040 Macbeth, the "Thane of Cawdor", murdered Duncan but this contradicts the fact that Cawdor Castle was not built until the mid-14th to 15th century and that Duncan was murdered by Macbeth in the Battle of Elgin. The theory that the murder was committed at Glamis Castle near Dundee does not stand up to close scrutiny either. In the 16th and 17th centuries the medieval central tower (1372) was extended and altered. A large collection of Shakespearean literature and some fine period furniture such as the Venetian four-poster bed in the bedchamber form part of this fairy-tale castle that is now owned by the Campbell family. A hawthorn tree dated at 1370 acted, according to legend, as a sign to the first thane to build a castle here. In the grounds a garden with colorful flower beds is well worth a visit. There are also nature trails and a nine-hole golf course.
Address: Cawdor, Nairn IV12 5RD, Scotland

Fishertown Museum

The Nairn Fishertown Museum in King Street documents the rise and fall of the herring industry using models and old photographs.

Fort George

After the Battle of Culloden (1746) a huge artillery fortress was built on a headland west of Nairn in order to keep the defeated Highlanders in check. As well as extensive military installations, the fort also houses the regimental museum of the Queen's Own Highlanders.

Logie Farm Riding Centre

Logie Farm Riding Centre offers horse-back rides through the Findhorn Valley. The varied and extensive cross-country course (no road work) allows riders to see different kinds of wildlife and local fauna. Both horses and ponies are used for riders of all abilities. Tuition is also available and unaccompanied children are welcome.

Boath Doocot

Booath Doocot, in Nairn, dates from the 17th C. It is situated on the site of an ancient motte and very near to the place where Montrose defeated the Covenanters in 1645.

Moniack Castle

The delightful stretch of road from Inverness to John o'Groats at the northeastern tip of Scotland by the Pentland Firth (110mi/180km) closely follows the coast. In the hands of the Fraser clan since 1580, the family offers guided tours.

Black Isle

Lone tree on Black Isle.
The Black Isle, in contrast to its name, is a beautifully green and fertile peninsula between Beauly and Cromarty Firth, and certainly merits further exploration.

Fortrose-Rosemarkie

The Fortrose Lighthouse on Black Isle.
The main town on the Black Isle is the twin settlement of Fortrose-Rosemarkie (pop. 1,900), formerly an important port and now a popular resort with an 18-hole golf course. Little remains of Fortrose Cathedral which was started in the 12th century and altered during the 13th/14th century apart from the two-story chapterhouse. The stones from the church were transported to Inverness by Cromwell's men for use in the construction of the castle there. Rosemarkie is an even older settlement dating from the sixth century. In 1125 David I declared the town a bishopric but that was later moved to Fortrose.

Cromarty - Hugh Miller's Cottage

Boats at Cromarty Harbor on Black Isle.
In Cromarty's Church Street stands the cottage where Hugh Miller (1802-1856) was born. The house, which survives in its original condition, is now a museum with mementos of the highly-regarded geologist and writer.
Address: Church Street, Cromarty IV11 8XA, Scotland

Cromarty Firth

Onshore installations, drilling rig docks and light industry zones around the Cromarty Firth have developed out of regional development programs designed to support the North Sea oil industry.

Dingwall, Scotland

Turn north when leaving the Black Isle and the road leads to Dingwall (pop. 5,000), a railroad junction on the north bank of Cromarty. This small market town became a royal burgh in 1226 and its history is clearly documented in the old town hall.
The Highland Traditional Music Festival brings together the best local performers along with stars from other Celtic countries, for three days of celebrations in late June or early July.

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