Inverness Castle sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness, in Inverness, Scotland. The red sand stone structure evident today was built in 1836 by architect William Burn. It is built on the site of an 11th century defensive structure. Today, it houses Inverness Sheriff Court. There has been a castle at this site for many centuries.
A succession of castles has stood on this site since 1057.
The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Macbeth of Scotland according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Donnchad I of Scotland, and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east.
The first Inverness Castle was partially destroyed by King Robert I of Scotland and a replacement castle was sacked in the 15th century.
In 1427 King James I of Scotland held a parliament in the castle to which the northern chieftains were summoned, of whom three were executed for asserting an independent sovereignty.
In 1548 another castle with tower was completed by George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly (1514-1562). He was constable of the castle until 1562. The castle was later taken by the Clan Munro and Clan Fraser who supported Mary Queen of Scots in 1562.
Inverness Castle 1562, Robert Mor Munro, 15th Baron of Foulis, chief of the Clan Munro was a staunch supporter and faithful friend of Mary Queen of Scots and he consequently was treated favourably by her son James VI. George Buchanan states, that when the unfortunate princess went to Inverness in 1562 and found the gates of the castle shut against her; "as soon as they heard of their sovereign's danger, a great number of the most eminent Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, who were esteemed the most valiant of the clans inhabiting those countries in the north". These two clans took Inverness Castle for the Queen, which had refused her admission. The Queen later hanged the governor, a Gordon who had refused her admission.
George Buchanan's original writings state:
Audito Principis periculo magna Priscorun Scotorum multitudo partim excita partim sua spoute afferit, imprimis Fraserie et Munoroii hominum fortissimorum in illis gentibus familiae.
Which translates in English as:
That as soon as they heard of their Sovereign's danger a great number of the ancient Scots poured in around her, especially the Frasers and Munros, which were esteemed the most valiant families inhabiting those countries.
During the Civil War later occupiers of the castle had held out against a siege by royalist James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose in 1645.
In 1649 a large royalist force stormed Inverness Castle. Among the commanders were Thomas Mackenzie of Pluscardine, Colonel John Munro of Lemlair, Colonel Hugh Fraser and Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty. They were all opposed to the authority of the current parliament. They assaulted the town and took the castle. They then expelled the garrison and raised the fortifications. However on the approach of the parlimentry forces led by covenanter General David Leslie all of the clans retreated back into Ross-shire. However the MacKenzies left a garrison of men in the castle and Leslie withdrew to deal with a rising in the south.
In 1715 the Clan MacKay took the side of King George I and defended Inverness Castle against the Jacobites. In 1725 the Castle was extended and reinforced by General George Wade after the initial early Jacobite Uprisings.
In 1745 when the second major Jacobite Uprisings began Inverness Castle was defended against the Jacobites by an Independent company from the Clan Ross who supported the British government. However soon afterwards when it was held by General Sir John Cope it fell to the Jacobite rebel leader Bonnie Prince Charlie who levelled it using explosive charges.
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