Dunlichity Church and Burial Grounds

On your travels around Inverness you are sure to come by a lot of Scottish Highlands history. This could be in museums, hotels or even in parks. However you will often be restricted from getting too near it, perhaps blocked by a glass case or a fence. Dunlichity Church and burial grounds, on the other hand, offers you the chance to touch history. Here you can stand in the same spot soldiers once stood who were preparing for battle.

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The Road to Culloden

An army sharpens its swords

Dunlichity Church is an ancient place of worship. Its history dates back much further than the current church which was built in the 1500s. As such, it was a well-known spot for peace and calm, something that a group of soldiers on their way to fight at Culloden in 1746 took advantage of. This might have been their last chance of normality before joining the rest of the army. It might have been the last time a group of friends saw each other, or had the chance to talk about their family back home. So they paused here for a while, and took advantage of the stone around them to sharpen their swords.

We know this because we can still see the marks their swords made in stones to this day. You can stand where they stood and imagine doing the same. Draw your arm along the stone as if you were armed, dreaming of your loved ones back home whilst facing up to the battle that was in front of you. This is Culloden history right here.

It is personal, small moments like this that can really bring the history of the Highlands alive.

Clan MacGillivray burial grounds

The burial ground also hosts burial grounds of many members of the MacGillivray Clan, a lot of whom died at the Battle of Culloden. Of particular note is a large gated enclosure which hosts chiefs of the clan. This is a great place to do some family research for those related to this clan.

Keeping an eye over these and all other burials were men situated in the watchtower. This overlooked the site and was where guards were stationed to make sure the bodies of the dead were not dug up and sold on to medical schools for use in their teaching – a most lucrative enterprise, run back in those days by people called ‘resurrectionists’.

How to get to Dunlichity Church and Burial Grounds

The church sits not far off the southern shores of Loch Ness. If you are driving from Inverness, take the B861 south of the city. About five miles along, take the turning for Dunlichity and keep driving until you see the church on your right. The What3Words for the church and burial ground is mondays.insolvent.remotes.

Exploring the history around Inverness

There are many other areas to explore near Inverness to give you a taste of the thousands of years of human history under your feet. Culloden Battlefield would be a good place to visit after spending time at Dunlichity Church. If you would like to explore more burial grounds, we can highly recommend Boleskine. To discover more about the ancient humans that roamed the land, then the Bronze Age Clava Cairns is a great place to visit.

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Dunlichity, IV1 2AN

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East of Inverness History Trail

So, you want to see the best of our Scottish history and explore new places when visiting Inverness? Well, our East of Inverness History Trail is the ideal day trip for you. So make the most out of your visit to Inverness, Loch Ness, and the Highlands of Scotland with our planned day trips. Further, we’ve selected some of the best known, most beautiful, and historic locations to give you a sense of Scotland’s heritage.

You can travel to them all, starting at Culloden Battlefield and finishing at Brodie Castle. Or just select the highlights if you are short of time. Whatever you decide to do, you are sure to love the East of Inverness History Trail!

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Culloden Battlefield

Where the Jacobites rebellion met a bloody death...

Inverness History Tour of Culloden Battlefield

One of the most famous battlefields in the UK is in the Scottish Highlands at Culloden. It was here in 1746 that Charles Edward Stuart – better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie – was decisively beaten and his claim to the throne was over. Culloden was the last set-piece battle where both sides stood ready for each other on British soil. It only lasted an hour, but saw up to 2,000 of Charles’ troops die, compared to only around 300 of the government’s.

Today, a battlefield visitor centre presents the full history of events leading up to the battle and the aftermath which is still a topic of discussion today. Culloden has inspired many works of art, including the well-known Skye Boat song as Bonnie Prince Charlie fled ‘over the sea to Skye’. Viewers/readers of Outlander will be familiar with Culloden, and it also made an appearance in an early Patrick Troughton episode of Doctor Who.

Start your East of Inverness History Trail at Culloden. You can find it on a map here, and it’s what3words is having.restrict.rephrase

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Inverness Clava Cairns

Fancy touching a piece of Scotland’s history that dates back over 4,000 years? Then a visit to Clava Cairns is what you are looking for. This is a burial ground from the Bronze Age which has lasted remarkably well through time. The Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Bulnuaran of Clava (as they are officially known) was a significant site for millennia for rituals and burials in Scotland.

It is believed that many of the stones used to build the cairns were actually from an even earlier farming settlement in the area, further adding to the historic significance of this ancient place.

The cairns are only six miles east of Inverness, and 300 yards east of Culloden Battlefield. You can find them on a map here, and their what3words is abstracts.stirs.funny.

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A magnificent structure

Also known as the Clava Viaduct and the Nairn Viaduct

The Culloden Viaduct

So good they named it thrice! This stunning stone viaduct goes by three names depending on who you ask: Culloden, Clava, or Nairn Viaduct. But one thing everyone agrees about is that this is a breathtaking piece of engineering. Opened in 1898, it has 29 semicircular arches over the valley of the River Nairn. It is 1785 ft long and 132 ft high and will give you a sore neck if you stare up at it for too long!

The viaduct sits half a mile east of the Clava Cairns. You can view it on a map here, and it’s what3words is dreamer.forge.openly.

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Train rides over the viaduct

The most remarkable aspect of this viaduct is that it is still in regular use today. Check out this video of an LNER train driver’s point of view as he heads from Inverness to Edinburgh.

The viaduct sits half a mile east of the Clava Cairns. You can view it on a map here, and it’s what3words is dreamer.forge.openly.

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Fort George

Built as a result of the Jacobite rebellion

Fort George

Jutting out into the Moray Firth is Fort George, a magnificent artillery fortification – perhaps even the mightiest in all of Britain. The fort was built after Bonnie Prince Charles’ defeat at Culloden as a way for the King to stop any further Jacobite uprising. The fort was completed in 1769.

Although the barracks are still in use by the army (but will completely close by 2032), most of Fort George is fully open to all visitors. Some assistance for wheelchair users may be required at times. It is a fascinating example of how life in the army was hundreds of years ago. It lets you literally walk the same paths of soldiers of the past.

You can find Fort George on a map here, and its what3words is meaning.tributes.spurned.

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Dolphin Spotting

Whilst at Fort George, make sure to keep your eyes peeled on the water. This is a popular area for dolphins! Here and across the water at Channory Point are some of the best places to visit near Inverness to catch a really good sighting. Make sure you bring your camera as some of the dolphins like to play! Or you can book a boat trip on the Moray Firth to explore the sealife and spot dolphins with the experts at Dolphin Spirit!

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Cawdor Castle

Walk in the stunning gardens after a Scottish castle tour

Step back in time at Cawdor Castle

“All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor.” And so with that line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Cawdor Castle was immortalised (even though never directly mentioned). With origins in the 15th century, the castle was home for hundreds of years to the Calder and then Campbell families.

It now sits as a five-star visitor attraction – even Robert Burns once paid a visit! It is open to the public between April and October when you can visit the gardens and go inside the castle. Of particular note to visit here is the ‘thorn tree’ which is underneath the castle. Its base dates from AD 1372.

The castle also offers plenty of woodlands to explore, and fishing opportunities too. You can find Cawdor Castle on a map here, and it’s what3words are zoom.flush.easygoing.

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Beautiful Nairn Beach

Ready for a break? Then Nairn Beach is the perfect place to take a coffee or picnic and relax. With wide expanses of sand and breathtaking views over the Moray Firth, the beach is the perfect place to stop awhile. There are parking facilities, toilets, and some nearby cafes. There’s even a play area for the kids, Nairn Beach is dog friendly too.

If you can come when the sun is due to set, there’s a good chance you’ll get a beautiful display. In the colder winter months, it’s also a good place to spy the Northern Lights, if you are lucky. Narin beach can be found on a map here, and what3words are folds.bond.releasing.

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Brodie Castle

Another wonderful castle in our area for you to explore...

Brodie Castle

Brodie Castle can trace its origins back to 1587. I was home to the Brodie family until the early 21st century. The castle is open to visitors and a particularly good time to go is in spring when daffodils carpet the gardens. There are hundreds of varieties on display, and make for a beautiful spring walk!

This is a family-friendly attraction too, with woodland walks and an area called The Playful Garden. The kids will love it! Brodie Castle is on the map here, and it’s what3words is strain.wiggling.retain.

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Enjoy east of Inverness

By heading east of Inverness, you are guaranteed to find beauty, history, and culture. Enjoy your adventures in this beautiful part of the Scottish Highlands! If the East of Inverness History Trail has whetted your appetite for adventure, check out some more road trips near Inverness. So, now to head back to the start with a bit more history and Culloden Battlefield – one of the most popular attractions in Inverness.

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Boleskine burial grounds and house

On the south-east side of Loch Ness sits Boleskine Burial Ground. It’s the sort of place you might just drive past without further thought, but to do so would mean missing out on hundreds of years of history – and some spooky goings-on too! Boleskine Brusial Ground offers a tranquil place to pause on your trip around Loch Ness. It’s a place for quiet contemplation, looking down through the gravestones onto the loch and hills beyond. But if you look closer, you will be able to see physical remnants of a more violent time. Here’s what to look out for on your visit…

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Touching history

Musket shots from the past

A history you can touch at Boleskine Burial Ground

Look for the tombstone of Donald Fraser, dated 1730. Upon it, you’ll see three small dimples. These are said to be the holes made by musket shots in 1746, just after the Battle of Culloden. A military wagon was carrying supplies southward to Fort Augustus past a group of mourners. One of them – some say it was just a boy – took a loaf of bread and threw it to a hungry dog. Well, the soldiers didn’t take kindly to this and let off a series of musket shots to scare and disperse the crowd, and it is some of these that hit the stone of Donald Fraser. The person who stole the bread was taken and imprisoned but, fortunately, was later released. 

 

Find the bullet holes on these stones below:

You can touch these dimples today, connecting you directly with the time of the Battle of Culloden.

This graveyard also has a site that mentions Lord Fraser of Lovat, known to Outlander fans as the Old Fox. He was the chap who changed allegiances from the House of Hanover to support the Stuart claim on the crown of the United Kingdom. It turned out to be a poor decision, and he was beheaded in London for high treason…

Haunted Highlands

The area around Boleskine has for hundreds of years been said to be haunted or, at the very least, bewitched. For example, some say a minister of the parish called Thomas Houston (1648 – 1705) had to return the burial ground’s re-animated corpses back to their graves after a devious local wizard raised the dead. Houston’s stone can still be seen in the graveyard today. 

However, if you look behind the graveyard, across General Wade’s road and up the hill, you will catch a glimpse of an old house. Some say Boleskine House is one of the spookiest houses in Scotland. That’s because it used to be owned by occultist Aleister Crowley. This was a man who performed a series of spells or ‘operations’ here, some taking months at a time in order to evoke his guardian angel.

To do so, he had to ‘…summon the 12 Kings and Dukes of Hell’. Whilst in the process, Crowley was called away without ending the spell and so never banished those demons already summoned. Some believe they still roam the house and grounds to this day. Indeed, his lodge-keeper suffered a variety of personal tragedies, resulting in Crowley admitting everything got a bit out of hand. 

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Boleskine House and burial grounds in later years

The house then changed hands over the years, at one point being owned by Led Zepplin founder Jimmy Page. Reports of haunted goings-on continued, with bangs at doors and inexplicable ratlings happening throughout the years. Unfortunately, Boleskine House was gutted with fire (at a time when nobody was in the house) in 2019. However, there is work underway to restore Boleskine House and gardens, with plans to eventually open up to the public.

So take your time as you wander through Boleskine Burial Ground, and look up at the house. But don’t take too long – you never know who’s going to be looking back at you…

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General Wade's Military Rd, Inverness IV2 6XT

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Leakey's Bookshop in Inverness in Scotland

If you are looking for a hidden delight when visiting Inverness and you love books and history, then Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness is a must-see. This treasure trove of a store envelops you with bookshelves swathed in literature spoiling us bookworms of the world. Here you can peruse the wealth of secondhand books that adorn the shelves.

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Full of charm and delights

A place that tickles the senses and ignites the imagination - a must-see!

Full of charm and quirks – a shop like no other

Interestingly this shop is housed in an old Gaelic church with a wonderful history behind it. And hints of the church remain such as the pulpit and stained glass windows. Adding to its charm a magnificent wood-burning stove nestles within to heat this enchanting building. Hints of Harry Potter come to mind, with the expectation of an owl to swoop above your head. With an array of comfortable seating to allow you to take time to choose which book(s) to buy combined with the burning stove, you can forget you are in a shop and not in some sort of magical time warp.

History of Leakey's bookshop

This gem was established back in 1979 by Charles Leaky and was originally spread over two shops. In 1994 once the church was converted this magical store was born and has become known as it is today. Hailed one of the most beautiful bookshops in Scotland possibly the UK, it heralds a fascinating history too. Now known as Greyfirar’s Hall this was once St Mary’s Gaelic Church, built in 1679 in the 17th century. With the addition of the spiral staircase, much of the original framework remains.

And did you say ‘Outlander’?

Well doesn’t it get more exciting if there is an Outlander link! And of course, there is. In the aftermath of The Battle of Culloden, this church was used as a temporary hospital to nurse injured soldiers. And you never know, you may cross paths with ‘Roger Mackenzie’ from Outlander as he frequents this store to absorb himself in its magic.

A definite must-see

So when you visit Inverness you must head to this spellbinding place. It comes with the guarantee of magical memories and surely a book or two to cement them with. Furthermore, to add to its story it sits on Church Street in Inverness – how apt! A booklovers dream yet a place full of allure for all who visit. So what are you waiting for?

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Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY

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01463 239947

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Seat of Clan Mackenzie

Castle Leod is located in the village of Strathpeffer, around a half-hour drive north-west from Inverness city centre. Much of the current building dates from around the 17th century, although there has been a structure on this site since at least the 1100s. The castle building is open to the public only on certain days during the year. However, private tours for small parties are possible through special arrangement. It is also used as a wedding venue.

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Originally a Pictish Fort

Involved in many historical events including the Jacobite Rising

History of Castle Leod

Originally a Pictish fort stood on the site. Eventually, a castle structure replaced it, and over the centuries this has been rebuilt and altered. Much of what we see today come from alterations made in the 17th century and the date 1616 is carved on a dormer window. The same family has lived in the castle for over 500 years and it is the Seat of Clan Mackenzie, a traditional Scottish clan. The castle and clan were involved in many important historic events, including the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

Castle Leod and Outlander

Castle Leod is widely regarded as the inspiration behind Castle Leoch, the seat of Clan Mackenzie in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. Although it was not used as a filming location in the TV series, it is still a popular place for fans to visit and is on the itinerary for many Outlander trips and tours.

Visiting Castle Leod

A grade A listed building, the castle is looked after by the Clan Mackenzie Charitable Trust. The trust cares for the building, restoring and conserving it for future generations. As well as managing access for visitors. The castle and grounds are open to the public on selected dates throughout the year. Please see the website for public open dates and ticket prices. Private tours may also be available on request.

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Strathpeffer IV14 9AA

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Old High Church, Inverness

The Old High Church is the oldest church in Inverness, which stands on the banks of the River Ness, on St Michael’s Mount. According to legend, this has been a religious site since the first century, when St Columba preached here. Since then, there have been many church buildings on the site. However, the oldest surviving part of the current structure dates from the 1300s, with most of it built-in 1770. Today, it remains a working church and is open to visitors in the summer.

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Each night the bell rings

Steeped in history and traditions this church captivates the imagination

Church traditions

The bell in the church tower rings nightly, which is a custom that goes back to 1703, when the bell signalled an evening curfew. Introduced to stop people using dangerous lanterns in the street after dark. Although the curfew is long gone, the bell still rings each evening for tradition’s sake.

The church is also the venue for the traditional Kirking of the Council. A 400-year-old event, held annually on the second Sunday in September. The event includes a procession of councillors, youth groups and guests, which parade to and from the Old High Church for a special service.

Outlander connections

The church tower was once used as a prison. And after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the churchyard was used for the execution of Jacobite prisoners. They were blindfolded and shot, one by one, outside the tower. In fact, musket ball marks are still visible on the tower wall. This dark event is referenced in the third series of Outlander, and the church is mentioned a few times in the books. As such, this has become an Outlander location for fans of the series.

Visiting the Old High Church

The church is located on Church Street in Inverness city centre. It stands on an ancient hill, known as St Michael’s Mount, by the banks of the River Ness. The church is open on weekdays during the summer. Visitors are welcome, and there are volunteer guides on hand to show you around. Please see the church website for more visitor information and opening times.

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Church Street, Inverness IV1 1EY

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07934 285 924

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Historic ruins of Beauly Priory

This ancient site, located in Beauly village, was founded in 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The monks came from France, and it is one theory that they named the area “beau lieu”, meaning “beautiful place” in French, later becoming “Beauly”. There is also a local legend that Mary, Queen of Scots named it much later, during a visit in 1564. Beauly Priory is the oldest surviving building in the town.

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The Monks of Beauly Priory

A strict monastic rule that lasted 300 years here

The monks of the priory

The monks who settled at Beauly Priory were part of the Valliscaulian order. They came from Val-des-Choux, near Dijon in France. The order had two other priories in Scotland, Ardchattan Priory near Oban and Pluscarden Abbey near Elgin. They were under a particularly strict form of monastic rule, in which they lived quietly in very small cells and surrendered all possessions. The monks stayed in the priory for over 300 years, until the Reformation in 1560.

Things to see

On a visit to the priory, you can explore the ruins of the monastery and the grounds. There are many interesting burial monuments, headstones and tombs. Plus, an ancient elm tree, thought to be the oldest in Europe. Information boards are dotted around the site, giving information on the site and its 800-year history. This is a peaceful place to visit, located in Beauly village centre. With local amenities such as shops and cafes close by.

Visiting Beauly Priory

Beauly Priory is free to visit and open year-round. Easy to access from Beauly village, with nearby car parking. It has become a popular tourist spot for fans of the Outlander book series, as the location where Claire meets the seer Maisri. It’s also a great place for history lovers, as an ancient site dating back to the 13th century. Find out more about visiting Beauly Priory.

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Wardlaw Mausoleum Burial Place

 

In the countryside to the west of Inverness lies a curious little building sat inside a graveyard. To the casual observer it’s merely a beautiful old building worthy of a glance. But its history is fascinating to researchers, sleuths and Outlander fans all over the world as it holds questions hundreds of years old. Inverness Wardlaw Mausoleum is a burial place located at Wardlaw Graveyard in Kirkhill village and is absolutely worth arranging a tour in advance to get the most from it.

It was originally built for the Lovat Fraser family in 1634 but later fell into ruin only to be was restored in the 1990s when the Wardlaw Mausoleum Trust formed to repair and maintain it. It has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years, due to connections with the Outlander book and TV series. The last known burial in the Mausoleum was in the late 19th Century.

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Steeped in history

Here lie the remains of the Lovat Fraser family

History of Wardlaw Mausoleum

The church originated when Simon, Lord Lovat died in 1632. His son buried him here and began construction of what would eventually be the church. It was altered in 1722 and after a period of decay and ruin, has now been restored. When you walk through the building, you can see remnants of how it used to look, including the outline of a door once used to give access to the mausoleum gallery. There are many mural plaques along the walls in memory of the various branches of the Fraser family.

Built in 1634 for the Lovat Frasers as a family burial plot, and remodelled in 1722 by Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, also known as ‘Old Fox’. The mausoleum has a crypt, where six lead coffins lie containing the bodies of Lovat Fraser family members. This may include the Old Fox himself, although there has been some recent speculation over this.

There are also several plaques on the walls in memory of the family. The Lovat Frasers stopped using the site in the early 19th century. And now, after being restored by the Wardlaw Mausoleum Trust, you can tour the building for yourself, by pre-arrangement.

Were his remains carried back to the Highlands afterwards? That’s what most people beleived, even although official records indicate that he was interred at the Tower of London. There is a double-lined coffin at Wardlaw Mausoleum marked as Lord Lovat’s. This double lead coffin is consistent with transporting a body a long distance – for example, from London to Inverness. However recent studies of bones found in his coffin indicate a female skeleton instead. Could the Old Fox’s remains have been swapped out? Buried elsewhere? Or at the Tower of London all along? Right now, we just don’t know.

The barrel-vaulted crypt contains six lead-lined or double-lead-lined coffins in total, including a particularly poignant one of an infant, John Fraser, who died in 1779 and represented the end of this line of the Fraser family. The diagonal flagstone floor in the chamber is unusual.

Simon the Fox and an Outlander Location

 

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, or ‘Old Fox’ features in the Outlander series as grandfather of main character Jamie Fraser. It is this connection that has sparked a new interest in the burial site, putting it on the must-see list for Outlander fans from all over the world. The series author, Diana Gabaldon, and several members of the TV cast have visited too.

Lord Simon Fraser was the last peer of the realm to have his head chopped off in the Tower of London in 1747. This was because he was unsure which side to join during the Jacobite uprising, until deciding to support Bonnie Prince Charlie. After their defeat, he was taken to London for trial under charges of treason. Found guilty, his sentence of being hung, drawn and quartered was reduced to simply beheading, as the king took pity on his frailness at the age of 70.

Were his remains carried back to the Highlands afterwards? That’s what most people beleived, even although official records indicate that he was interred at the Tower of London. There is a double-lined coffin at Wardlaw Mausoleum marked as Lord Lovat’s. This double lead coffin is consistent with transporting a body a long distance – for example, from London to Inverness. However recent studies of bones found in his coffin indicate a female skeleton instead. Could the Old Fox’s remains have been swapped out? Buried elsewhere? Or at the Tower of London all along? Right now, we just don’t know.

The barrel-vaulted crypt contains six lead-lined or double-lead-lined coffins in total, including a particularly poignant one of an infant, John Fraser, who died in 1779 and represented the end of this line of the Fraser family. The diagonal flagstone floor in the chamber is unusual.

Visiting Wardlaw Mausoleum

You can visit the Wardlaw mausoleum by pre-arranging in advance. If you want to get as much information as possible about this fascinating piece of Scottish history, it is definitely worth booking in advance. The tour is free, but donations to help with the upkeep of the building are warmly welcomed. If you turn up without an appointment, you may still get a tour, but it is not guaranteed. Give the house on the right at the entrance to the graveyard a knock when you arrive. There is no entry fee but small donations are welcome.

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Wardlaw Rd, Kirkhill, Inverness IV5 7NB

Telephone

01463 831742

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Abertarff, The Oldest House in Inverness

Abertarff House is the oldest house in Inverness. Built in 1593 on the east bank of the River Ness and used in many ways over its 400-year history. With links to the Fraser of Lovat clan, the Commercial Bank of Scotland and The Gaelic Association, amongst others. Today, the National Trust runs it as a small museum, with a free exhibition on the ground floor, about life in the 17th century.

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Built in 1593

Links with the Fraser of Lovat family from 1793

History of Abertarff House

Abertarff House was built in 1593. It’s unclear who the first owners of the historic house were, but there are links with the Fraser of Lovat family from 1793. The Frasers of Lovat were a notorious clan in Scotland, who fought for the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden.

The Commercial Bank of Scotland (now the Royal Bank of Scotland) bought the building in the mid-1800s and gifted it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1963. The trust restored it, and it became offices until recently. In 2018, after further conservation work, it opened to the public.

The house stands two and a half storeys high, with a projecting turnpike stairway. Its crow-stepped gables or “corbie steps” are a prominent feature. Historically significant, it is a good example of domestic architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries and is a category B listed building.

Visiting Abertarff House

Tucked away on a close off Church Street, Abertarff is hidden but easy to reach. Located by the east bank of the river in the city centre, just behind Hootenanny’s Bar.

The house is open on a limited basis, so please check opening dates and times before visiting. Admission is free.

Even when the visitor centre is not open, there is a lovely peaceful bench outside, a great place to relax and view the exterior of Inverness’ oldest house.

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71 Church St, Inverness IV1 1ES

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Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

Steeped in more than 1,000 years of history, Urquhart Castle sits on the banks of Loch Ness. It is one of Scotland’s largest castles, which has played host to some of the most climactic episodes in Scottish history.

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A medieval fortress

Witnessed many a battle during the Wars of Independence

History of Urquhart Castle

Having been passed between Scot and English control for over 500 hundred years this medieval fortress has witnessed many a battle during the Wars of Independence. Taken control of by Edward the I in 1296, the Scots reclaimed it back in 1298. They lost control again until Robert the Bruce’s victory in 1308. At this time it became a royal castle. For over 200 years there were many English and Scottish battles seeing ownership changing many times.

Host to many clan wars

By 1508, this castle was under the royal ownership of the Grant clan. Here, it played host to the many clan wars. And, in 1545 Clan Macdonald stripped the castle of all its valuables. Despite the castle having been heavily fortified it was abandoned in the 17th century. As a consequence, Urquhart Castle saw its demise. It was at this point, to prevent the Jacobites rising, it was deliberately blown up. Thus leaving the ruins that are visible today.

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Dramatic ruins

Panoramic views of Loch Ness and the surrounding countryside

Visiting Urquhart Castle

Situated on a rocky peninsula, you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Loch Ness and the surrounding countryside. It is from here you can explore the dramatic ruins, including the Grant Tower. You can even peer into the prison cell, said to of imprisoned legendry Gaelic bard Domhnall Donn: a handsome man, a brave warrior, and a good poet. Did he really steal cattle or was his crime to fall in love with the Laird of Grant’s daughter? See the ruins of the Great Hall and envisage the many great banquets held there. Explore medieval artefacts including the Urquhart Ewer. And possibly most excitingly, you can see a full-sized trebuchet (a stone-throwing machine in laymans terms). View ticket prices and opening times here.

Address

Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ

Telephone

01456 450551

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Exploring Inverness Castle

In the heart of Inverness, the imposing Inverness Castle sits high on a hilltop. Standing proudly, overlooking the River Ness. The present building, made from red sandstone, dates back to 1836 and currently houses the Inverness Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court. However, 1057 saw the first construction of a castle on this site, said to have been built by King Malcolm III of Scotland. And since, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. For example, Robert the Bruce destroyed the castle in 1308, to prevent the English from occupying it during the Scottish War of Independence. So did the MacDonald clan, many times during the Lord of the Isle era.

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Climb the tower

For amazing 360° views of the city

The Viewpoint

Although the majority of the building is not open to the public, there is access to the Inverness Castle Viewpoint. Here, you can take in the best views over Inverness. With 360° views, you can see the whole city from the viewing platform at the top of the tower. Look out for famous landmarks and historic buildings. Marvel at the River Ness as it rolls beneath you. Explore the city’s network of streets and see beyond to the rolling countryside. Additionally, as you climb the tower you will learn some intriguing myths and legends associated with the city.

Castle views

But perhaps the best views of Inverness Castle itself can be seen from the other side of the River Ness. At night it looks magical, when the castle is all lit up and the light is reflected in the waters below.

Visit Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle is a dominant landmark in the city centre. You can walk up the hill to see it more closely, but there is an admission fee to access the Viewpoint. Check here for ticket prices and opening times.

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Inverness IV2 3EG

Telephone

01349 781730

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Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield is the site of the historic Battle of Culloden. It was the last of battle of the Jacobite rising of 1745, a rebellion attempt to overthrow the Hanovarians and restore of the House of Stuart to the British throne. Today, you can visit the moor and learn about the tragic battle that changed history at the visitor centre.

Culloden is 5 miles east of Inverness, off the A9/B9006. The attraction is signposted from there. Find opening times and ticket prices on the National Trust for Scotland website.

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Culloden History

Last of battle of the Jacobite rising of 1745

The Battle of Culloden

The battle took place on 16th April 1746, when the Jacobite Army, supporting Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) fought the British army, led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of the reigning Hanovarian king, George II.

It was a short, but exceptionally bloody battle, in which the Jacobite army was swiftly defeated. In less than an hour, around 1,300 men died. Most of them were Jacobites. Today, you can visit the moor and learn about the tragic battle that changed history at the visitor centre.

The Culloden Experience

Stand on the battlefield where this historic event took place. At the Culloden visitor centre, beside the battlefield, discover the emotions of battle at the 360-degree battle immersion theatre. Hear both sides of the story and see historic artefacts at the museum. And visit Leanach Cottage, a small thatched building which was used during the battle and is the only surviving example of its kind. There is also a gift shop and café in the visitor centre.

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Outlander Location

Fraser clan and the Battle of Culloden

Culloden Battlefield and Outlander

Fans of Outlander will be familiar with the Battle of Culloden, which features in the popular time travel series of books and TV shows. In the series, main character Jamie Fraser fights in the battle on the side of the Jacobites. Although the story is fictional, it picks up on many true historic events. The Fraser clan really did fight at the battle and the Fraser Stone is one of a number of clan markers on the battlefield. And so Culloden has become a popular part of many Outlander tours and experiences.

See Outlander videos below...

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Address

Culloden Moor, Inverness IV2 5EU

Telephone

01463 796090

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Clava Cairns
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Visit the Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns is an ancient burial ground with three Bronze Age cairns, known in full as the “Prehistoric Burial Cairns of the Balnuaran of Clava”. This is an extremely well-preserved site for its age, dating back 4000 years.

The Clava Cairns are free to visit and open all year round. Perhaps the best time to see them is a sunset during the midwinter, when the stones align perfectly with the setting sun.

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Clava Cairns History

Ancient Scottish burial ground, built around 2000 BC

Cairns and Standing Stones

The three large burial cairns, which survive today, were built around 2000 BC. They were built on an existing settlement, where evidence of farming has been found. Positioned in a row, there may have been more than three of them at the time.

A ring of standing stones surrounds each one, some of which are now broken or moved.

Aligned with the setting sun

The central cairn is called a Ring Cairn, an enclosed ring-shaped stone structure with an inner chamber. The two outer cairns are known as Passage Graves. So-called because they include entrance passages, aligned to the south west, where the midwinter sun sets. A small number of bodies would have been laid in each chamber, probably of significant figures and leaders.

Around a thousand years later, the burial site was reused and three smaller monuments were added to it. Including a smaller ring of kerb stones near the central cairn.

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Travel through time

The location which inspired Outlander's “Craigh na Dun”

The Outlander Effect

Interest in the site has grown significantly since the release of the romantic time-travel books and TV series, Outlander. This ancient place has similarities with the fictional “Craigh na Dun” site from the series, where main character Claire is sent back in time by the magic of the standing stones. There are now more visitors than ever to the Clava Cairns. Many Outlander fans believe writer Diana Gabaldon took inspiration from here and they like to get a selfie posing with the “Outlander split stone”, a standing stone split in two, said to have mystical qualities.

See the Outlander video below...

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Address

Inverness IV2 5EU

Telephone

01667 460232

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