Last May 2016 we visited Inverlochy Castle, just outside of Fort William in Scotland. The castle has little altered since before the outbreak of the Wars of Independence. It was built in about 1280 by John Comyn, the Lord of Badenoch and it commanded the strategic southern entrance the Great Glen and three battles were fought at the castle.
The stronghold was part of a nationwide network of fortifications that helped to secure the Comyn’s place as one of Scotland’s most powerful upwardly mobile families. Its ten metre high angled walls, designed to protect against scaling ladders, have survived remarkably intact behind a once deep moat.
From one of the many information boards dotted around the site, you can see how the castle would have looked in 1280. Its control of the River Lochy at the southern entrance to the Great Glen brought armies and merchants the Castle. There was probably a small harbour, supples may have come through a first floor doorway, which is now blocked. A naval battle was fought close by in 1297.
Before you is Comyn’s Tower, the strongest point and focus of the castle. Visitors were entertained in the tower’s first floor hall. John Comyn’s private apartment was on the floor above, reached by a curving stairs within the wall.
All did not go well for the Comyns or their castle, according to the following information board.
After the Comyns were driven out, their castle was no longer a noble home and the castle was virtually left abandoned. But it remained useful. It was a court of Justice and in the 1500’s and a storehouse for the Ivergarry Iron Works in the 1700s.
In 1431, a royal army camped around the castle was routed by a smaller force of Highlanders, some arriving by galley. Two centuries later, in 1645, Royalist clansmen, mostly MacDonalds, destroyed a Campbell led covenanting army here, after marching through snow clad Highland passes to outflank their enemies. The bard lain Lorn MacDonald wrote an epic account of the battle.
I climb early on Sunday morning
The brae of the Castle of Inverlochy:
I saw the army get into order,
And victory on the field was with Clan Donald.
The castle declined through the ages and in 1873 the Victorian tourists exploring the Highlands were drawn to these romantic ruins. Queen Victoria herself decided to join them in 1873. The then owner of the Castle, William Scarlett added battlements and patched up the stonework for the royal visit, but Victoria was unimpressed and thought there was little to see. The below photo is the castle as seen today and there is ample remains to view, compare to some I have visited….. a few rocks in a field some times. The castle is looked after by Historic Scotland and there is no entry charge and its well worth a visit on a sunny afternoon.
All the information is from the boards dotted around the site 2016.