Inverlochy and Invergarry Castles

The Great Glen, Scotland. Day 23 , 21st July.

From Port Appin and Castle Stalker I had to carefully manage my time because I had a plane to catch about 100 kilometres away in Inverness at 1pm.  There were many places along the way that I had identified but was unable to visit.  However, I still managed to stop by at the two castles below.

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Inverlochy Castle

 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

Inverlochy Castle is close to Fort William and commands the southern approaches to the Great Glen, the great schism that runs north-east to Inverness.  It was built about 1280 by John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

This is what it looked like shortly after it was built.  It was a formidable fortress surrounded by a deep moat and commanding the river access to Loch Ness from the south.  There is no longer a moat and the fort is in ruins.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

There was a naval battle near here in 1297 though I cannot find any details of it.  It was probably between the English and the Scots because 1297 was the year of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, when William Wallace routed the English army and became Guardian of Scotland.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

We are looking at Comyn’s Tower, where John Comyn resided.  John Comyn (the Black Comyn) died in 1302 and was succeeded by his son John Comyn (the Red Comyn).  This was a tempestuous time in Scotland’s history.   King Alexander III died in 1286 and his child heir Margaret Maid of Norway died in 1290 on her way to Scotland.  John Balliol became king in 1292 but was deposed and exiled by Edward I of England in 1296.

The John Comyns (Black and Red) were the chief supporters of John Balliol and thus main rivals of the Robert Bruces (elder and younger).   John (the Red) Comyn was taken prisoner by the English after the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, when Robert Bruce (the younger) was on the side of the English though not present at the battle.  John was released after agreeing to fight for Edward in Flanders but escaped after hearing of the successes of William Wallace and made his way back to Scotland in support of Wallace.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

After the defeat of William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, John (the Red) Comyn became Guardian of Scotland along with Robert Bruce the younger, his main rival. There were various combinations of Guardian over the next seven years but they usually included John Comyn as sole or joint Guardian.  In 1304,  when Scotland was about to be overwhelmed by the armies of Edward I, John Comyn signed a peace with reasonable terms.

In 1306, John was murdered in a church by Robert Bruce which provoked a short civil war.  Robert became king as Robert I but was defeated by the English and went into hiding.  He returned in 1307, defeated the English at Loudon Hill, took Inverlochy Castle and crushed the Comyns and their allies in battle.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

There were two battles of Inverlochy much later.  The first in 1431 followed the imprisonment of Alexander of Islay, Lord of the Isles by James I.  In it, Alexander’s cousin Donald Balloch defeated the royalist forces of the Earls of Mar and Caithness.  However, James I soon after led an army into the Highlands and dispersed the rebels.

The second Battle of Inverlochy was in 1645 both as part of the Scottish Civil War and as a battle between clans.  The Royalist Montrose with 1500 men was thirty miles north of Inverlochy with a Covenanter army in front of him at Inverness and another one of 3,000 men under Argyll behind him at Inverlochy.  He slipped away and marched around Ben Nevis at night and surprised Argyll at dawn, routing the Covernantor forces.  In terms of the clans, it was the MacDonalds defeating the Campbells.

Cromwell built a replacement fortification nearby at Fort William in 1654 and Inverlochy Castle fell into disuse from that time.  Though a ruin, it is unusual in that it was never remodelled since its original construction.

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 Castles, History, Inverlochy Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

(A section of wall on one of the towers).

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Invergarry Castle

 Castles, History, Invergarry Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

Invergarry Castle is about another thirty kilometres further along the Great Glen from Inverlochy Castle.  It was built in the early 1600s by the MacDonalds of Glengarry.

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 Castles, History, Invergarry Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

Cromwell’s troops under General Monck burned the castle down in 1654.  It was repaired and from 1688 to 1692 was held for James VII until its surrender to the forces of William and Mary.  It was held by the Jacobites during the rising of 1715 and retaken by the Government in 1715.  In 1745 and 1746 it was also held by the Jacobites during the ’45 rising.

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 Castles, History, Invergarry Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

Cumberland took it in 1746 and sacked it, leaving the empty shell you see today.  There has recently been restoration work to support the structure and it is fenced off so that you cannot go inside, presumably for safety reasons.

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 Castles, History, Invergarry Castle, Photography, Scotland, The Great Glen, Travel

From Invergarry Castle, I drove on to Inverness, in time for a flight to Orkney.

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3 comments on “Inverlochy and Invergarry Castles

  1. enmanscamera says:

    Another story of the history. And great images to go with.

    Like

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