Moray Firth from Fort George, Scotland

Today, using Inverness as a base we visited two important sites, viz:

Fort George

First to a stunning piece of 18th century British military engineering as manifested in the 250-year-old Fort George at Ardersier, eleven miles east of Inverness.

Fort George, Scotland

The catalyst for the construction of the Fort was the Jacobite Rising which was finally crushed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.This was a failed attempt by the House of Stuart to overturn the Hanoverian dynasty. However, the Battle of Culloden proved conclusive and after that event the Highlands remained peaceful notwithstanding which the Fort has continued as army barracks to this day.

Fort George defences

The Fort was designed by military engineer, Major-General William Skinner as an impregnable base for George 11’s army in the North of Britain. The complement was some 2000 men comprising two field battalions of infantry, an artillery unit and officer corps. The building included staff blocks, barrack blocks, powder magazines, ordnance and provision stores, a bake house, brew house and chapel.

Fort George

Construction took twenty years and cost of nearly GBP200,00 exceeded the GNP of Scotland at the time.

The site covers forty-two acres and has a rampart extending to over half a mile.

Location on a promontory (jutting into the Moray Firth) affords advantage through strength and isolation. The high ground nearby (one mile to the east) was out of range for guns and howitzers of the day.

The project succeeded to the extent that no further military uprising occurred post Culloden and, of course, the Fort is still in use today, a great testament to the architect and builders of the 18th century.

In 1860 the fort was remodelled and re-fortified as a powerful coastal defence battery in context of a strategy to counter the threat of a French invasion.

A compelling visitor attraction, especially for persons interested in the military. The western tip offers good views over the Moray Firth  where, occasionally, dolphins can be seen feeding.

Chanonry Point from Fort George.

Fort George is currently an active military base resulting in a somewhat incongruous mix of serving military personnel and tourists.

After spending nearly three hours at the site we moved on, north, to Pittentrail in eastern Sutherland.

Sir John Alexander Macdonald Memorial Cairn.

Sir John (1815-1891) was Canada’s first Prime Minister. Although born in Glasgow, his grandparents,  John and Jean MacDonald, lived near Rogart and Pittentrail. The cairn was constructed using stones from the original family home of the MacDonalds in order to recognise the link with Canada. To reach the cairn with a tour bus proved a challenge as the access roads are very narrow and required great skill of the driver.

Tour Group at Sir John MacDonald Memorial Cairn.

Landscape near MacDonald Monument, eastern Sutherland.

Finally, we returned to Inverness. Tomorrow, we move on down the Great Glen to Fort William.

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