The Town (now City) of Inverness
Inverness (pronounced ; from the , meaning "Mouth of the River Ness") is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. Inverness lies near two important battle sites: the 11th century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on The Aird and the 18th century Battle of Culloden which took place on Culloden Moor. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and lies within the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) at its north-eastern extremity where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth. At the latest, a settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I) in the 12th century. The Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich (MacBeth) whose 11th Century murder of King Duncan was immortalised in Shakespeare's play Macbeth, held a castle within the city where he ruled as Mormaer of Moray and Ross.
The population of greater Inverness grew from an estimated population of 51,610 in 2003 to 62,470 at the time of the 2011 Census. Inverness is one of Europe's fastest growing cities, with a third of the Highland population living in or around the city and is ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city. In the recent past, Inverness has experienced rapid economic growth - between 1998 and 2008, Inverness and the rest of the central Highlands showed the largest growth of average economic productivity per person in Scotland and the second greatest growth in the United Kingdom as a whole, with an increase of 86%. Inverness is twinned with one German city, Augsburg and two French towns, La Baule and Saint-Valery-en-Caux.
Inverness College is the main campus for the University of the Highlands and Islands. With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands' students, and 30% of those studying to degree level.
In 2014, a survey by a property website described Inverness as the happiest place in Scotland and the second happiest in the UK.
Inverness was one of the chief strongholds of the Picts, and in AD 565 was visited by St Columba with the intention of converting the Pictish king Brude, who is supposed to have resided in the vitrified fort on Craig Phadrig, on the western edge of the city. A 93 oz (2.9 kg) silver chain dating to 500–800 was found just to the south of Torvean in 1983. A church or a monk's cell is thought to have been established by early Celtic monks on St Michael's Mount, a mound close to the river, now the site of the Old High Church and graveyard. The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III (Malcolm III) of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Mac Bethad mac Findláich (Macbeth) had, according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Donnchad (Duncan I), and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east.
The strategic location of Inverness has led to many conflicts in the area. Reputedly there was a battle in the early 11th century between King Malcolm and Thorfinn of Norway at Blar Nam Feinne, to the southwest of the city.
Inverness had four traditional fairs, including Legavrik or "Leth-Gheamhradh", meaning midwinter, and Faoilleach. William the Lion (d. 1214) granted Inverness four charters, by one of which it was created a royal burgh. Of the Dominican friary founded by Alexander III in 1233, only one pillar and a worn knight's effigy survive in a secluded graveyard near the town centre.
Medieval Inverness suffered regular raids from the Western Isles, particularly by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the fifteenth century. In 1187 one Domhnall Bán (Donald Bane) led islanders in a battle at Torvean against men from Inverness Castle led by the governor's son, Donnchadh Mac An Toisich (Duncan Mackintosh). Both leaders were killed in the battle, Donald Bane is said to have been buried in a large cairn near the river, close to where the silver chain was found. Local tradition says that the citizens fought off the Clan MacDonald in 1340 at the Battle of Blairnacoi on Drumderfit Hill, north of Inverness across the Beauly Firth. On his way to the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, Donald of Islay harried the city, and sixteen years later James I held a parliament in the castle to which the northern chieftains were summoned, of whom three were for defying the king's command. Clan Munro defeated Clan Mackintosh in 1454 at the Battle of Clachnaharry just west of the city. The Clan MacDonald and their allies stormed the castle during the Raid on Ross in 1491.
Beyond the then northern limits of the town, Oliver Cromwell built a citadel capable of accommodating 1,000 men, but with the exception of a portion of the ramparts it was demolished at the Restoration. The only surviving modern remnant is a clock tower.
Inverness played a role in the first Jacobite rising in 1689. In early May, it was besieged by a contingent of Jacobites led by MacDonnell of Keppoch. The town was actually rescued by Viscount Dundee, the overall Jacobite commander, when he arrived with the main Jacobite army, although he required Inverness to profess loyalty to King James VII.
On 7 September 1921, the first British Cabinet meeting to be held outside London took place in the Town House, when David Lloyd George, on holiday in Gairloch, called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Ireland. The Inverness Formula composed at this meeting was the basis of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Inverness and its immediate hinterland have a large number of originally Gaelic place names as the area was solidly Gaelic-speaking until the late 19th century.
Several springs which were traditionally thought to have healing qualities exist around Inverness. Fuaran Dearg, which translates as the "red spring" is a chalybeate spring located near Dochgarroch. Fuaran a' Chladaich (The Spring on the Beach) near Bunchrew was once accessed by a causeweay from the shore, although submerged at high tide it continues to bubble and was traditionally known for treating cholera. Fuaran Allt an Ionnlaid (Well of the Washing Burn) at Clachnaharry, where the Marquis of Montrose was allowed to drink while on his way from his capture in Sutherland to his execution in Edinburgh, was known for treating skin conditions. Also at Clachnaharry, Fuaran Priseag (The Precious Well) was said to have been blessed by Saint Kessock and could treat weak and sore eyes, as well as expelling evil and shielding curses if a silver coin was offered. Tobar na h-Oige (Well of the Young) is located near Culloden and was known for curing all ailments. Fuaran a' Chragan Bhreag (Well of the Speckled Rock) is located near Craig Dundain and Fuaran na Capaich (The Keppoch Well) is located near Culloden. Although a Gaelic name itself, Craig Phadraig is alternatively known as Làrach an Taigh Mhóir, or "the place of the Great house. "Several Gaelic place names are now largely obsolete due to the feature being removed or forgotten. Drochaid an Easain Duibh (Bridge by the Small Dark Waterfall), referred to in the tale Aonghas Mòr Thom na h-Iubhraich agus na Sìthichean (Great Angus of Tomnahurich and the Faries) has not yet been located within Inverness and Slag nam Mèirleach (meaning Robbers' hollow), adjacent to Doors Road in Holm is no longer in use. Until the late 19th century, four mussel beds existed on the delta mouth of the River Ness: 'Scalp Phàdraig Mhòir' (Scalp of Big Patrick), 'Rònach' (Place of the Seals) 'Cridhe an Uisge' (The Water Heart) and 'Scalp nan Caorach' (Scalp of the Sheep) – these mussel beds were all removed to allow better access for fishing boats and ships.
Allt Muineach (The Thicket River) now runs underground between Culcabock Roundabout and Millburn Roundabout. An Loch Gorm (The Turquoise Loch), a small sea loch which was situated beside Morrisons supermarket, was filled in during the 19th century and lives on only in the name of Lochgorm Warehouse. Abban Street stems from the word àban, a word of local Gaelic dialect meaning a small channel of water.
Many prominent points around Inverness retain fully Gaelic names.
Beinn Bhuidhe Bheag – Little Yellow Hill
In the colonial period, a Gaelic speaking settlement named New Inverness was established in McIntosh County, Georgia, by settlers from in and around Inverness. The name was also given by expatriates to settlements in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Montana, Florida, Illinois, and California. The name Inverness is also given to a feature on Miranda, a moon of the planet Uranus, as well as a 2637 m tall mountain in British Columbia, Canada. Inverness is also known by its nicknames Inversnecky or The Sneck, with its inhabitants traditionally known as "Clann Na Cloiche" ("Children of the Stone" in Gaelic) owing to the importance of the Clach Na Cudainn stone to the city's history.
The Parish of Inverness and Bona
The Parish of Inverness was united with the ancient parish of Bona prior to 1882-4, (the publication of Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland). Bona is located near the Bona Ferry on Loch Dochfour, about 6 miles southwest of the centre of Inverness. See the separate article Inverness and Bona.
For an older description of the parish of Inverness itself, see the description from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) as transcribed and copyrighted by Colin Hinson and provided on the web by GENUKI.
NOTE: The suburbs of Hilton and South Kessock, to the north of Inverness itself, are largely a 20th-century settlements, and have been redirected here.
Notes for the Highland Council Area and the Western Isles Council Area
The local archives are held by The Highland Archive Service which is based in Inverness with branches in Stornoway, Fort William and Caithness. It is "responsible for locating, preserving and making accessible archives relating to all aspects of the history of the geographical area of the Highlands."
Family history societies and historical associations covering the Highland Council Area and the Western Isles Council Area are:
These associations publish their aims on their websites as well as a list of publications. In many cases the publications are also available through the Scottish Genealogy Society (see below).
Sources for Old Parish Registers Records, Vital Records and Censuses
Transcriptions of Gravestone Inscriptions
Sources for Emigration Records
Further Sources of Reference
Please note and respect the copyright warnings on these websites.