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Old Inverlochy Castle

Old Inverlochy Castle is an interesting ancient site by the River Lochy in Fort William

Inverlochy Castle was built about 1280 is still a fine sight despite witnessing many scenes of splendour and carnage - standing in the grassy quadrangle beneath the 30 feet high and 10 feet thick let your imagination wander! It was probably built by the Comyn family at the command of Longshanks (Edward I), who appreciated the strategic site at the head of Loch Linnhe beside the River Lochy.

There was a large settlement here in pre-Christian times and Inverlochy was the site of the signing of a treaty in 790 between the ambassadors of Charlemagne, the French King and Achaius, King of the Picts. The Vikings may have attacked the original pictish fortification.

It was said to have been a regular haunt of merchants from Spain and France to buy Salmon and Herring. Two major battles were fought at Inverlochy.

The Battle of inverlochy 1431
In 1431 during the desperate struggle between the Lords of the Isles and the Royalists, Donald Balloch, 18 year old cousin of the then imprisoned Lord of the Isles led 600 clansmen up Loch Linnhe to attack the Royalists in the Castle. Simultaneously his uncle from Torcastle attacked from the North. 1000 men lay dead and the battle was commemorated in a famous pipe tune, the Pibroch of Donald Dubh.

The Battle of inverlochy 1645
In 1645 in Covenanting times, James Graham, Earl of Montrose, was on the Royalist side in the Civil Wars. With only 1500 man, and after a long forced march through the winter hills of Lochaber, he attacked the Duke of Argyll’s men in front of the Castle at dawn. Argyll had  retreated across the loch to Camasnagaul bay and witnessed, from a distance, the defeat of his men and the slaughter of 1500 of them. Those who fled were pursued by Montrose’s men and where caught (and killed ) a number of cairns were raised – one notably 6 miles off near Lundavra on the West Highland Way.

Today the crumbling walls have been repaired by Scotland’s Ancient Monuments Commission – though “renovations” started about 1894 when Lord Abinger, then owner of the Castle, had some battlements built atop of the wall facing the West Highland Railway – this  to impress Queen Victoria as she sped past in a train to Banavie! (One hopes she was looking out to the right side of the track).

There is a well-known painting of Inverlochy Castle by Horatia McCulloch - some of the local hoteliers have copies hanging in their properties and its been well published in books.

The second of February was a day to be a spectator at a safe distance from here....The Battle of Inverlochy in 1645 began at first light when an army of 3,000 men led by Montrose, charged on the Covenanter Lowland occupants - discharging them from the castle and slaughtering them in the river... must have been an exciting day in Fort William - if not a bit cold !

Inverlochy Castle is possibly the oldest castle in Scotland where it is believed that in 790 AD King Achaius signed a treaty with Charlemagne. However this much earlier structure was destroyed by the Vikings after they took up sailing and developed raping and pillaging, but long before they got involved in salmon fish farming back home in Norway.

It's interesting how things move on... fish farming in Loch Linnhe by Fort William is an important employer in the area nowadays... wonder if there are any Vikings working for MOWI...

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OPENING TIMES: MARCH to DECEMBER, Monday to Saturday. March, November and December 10am to 4pm. April to October 10am to 5pmFREE ENTRYThe West Highland Museum is an independent, self-financing Trust with Charitable Status. It receives a small grace and favour grant from the Highland Council but is otherwise self sufficient. The West Highland Museum is situated in the central square off the High Street in Fort William. It is world famous for its Jacobite collections but also has fine collections of social and local history, archaeology, natural history and geology. Collections of special interest include the Alexander Carmichael Collection, the Goldman Coin Collection and the Charles Hepburn Jacobite Bequest. It has a small, interesting archive and a library for the use of members only. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will have a go at answering anything. History of the Museum It was founded on 23rd May 1922 by a group of Lochaber people who dreamed of creating, for the public good, 'a museum of and for the West Highlands that would be second to none in the whole country.' They had no collection and no building. A series of summer loan exhibitions were held culminating in the 1925 Prince Charles Edward exhibition, a magnificent tour-de-force worthy of any great institution. The lenders to all the exhibitions were encouraged to gift their exhibits to form the nucleus of a museum collection. Many of them did and the roots of the Museum's fine collections lies in their faith and generosity. In 1926 premises were acquired with the purchase of part of the old British Linen Bank in Cameron Square: the central square in Fort William. These buildings are some of the oldest in Fort William and are now B listed. Foreign Visitors Foreign language guide books are provided in French, Italian, German and Dutch with other translations planned for the future. Disabled Visitors There is access only to the ground floor for wheelchair users. There is full disabled toilet facilities. Groups Groups are advised to book in advance. If a guided tour is desired it must be booked in advance. For community groups and societies specialist talks on various subjects are available. Education For local schools worksheets and object-discovering sessions are offered. Subjects covered include the Jacobites, the Massacre of Glencoe, Food, Conservation and the Second World War. Local schools have free access to the Museum. Schools from out with Lochaber will be charged. Shop A range of unusual and interesting books, both new and second hand; also, presently, delicate, naturally dyed, hand knitted shawls and scarves, made locally. There are also prints, postcards, old fashioned toys and small gifts. The shop is constantly changing so is worth a visit.? Reg. No: RD68 Charity No: SCO14287?
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Clan Cameron Museum
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