18th Century Town House

This historic Georgian-style building on Huntly Street in Inverness city centre dates back to 1726. A rare example of a surviving regular-fronted 18th-century house. Its first documented use is as a townhouse for the Duffs of Drummuir, but it has had many owners and purposes over the centuries. For example, it became a hospital after the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which treated wounded, government troops. And today it is an office building for the National Trust for Scotland. It is also an Outlander location, mentioned in both the books and TV series. And although not currently open to the public, you can visit the exterior of Balnain House and read about the building’s history. Plus, it is sometimes open as part of the Doors Open Days weekends, when you can get a rare look inside.


A house of many faces...

...from hospital to Outlander inspiration

History of Balnain House

The townhouse was built in 1726 and owned by the Duffs of Drummuir. In 1746, the British used it as a hospital to treat wounded troops after the bloody Battle of Culloden. It passed through several owners after this, who altered and modernised the building into what we see today. In the 1880s, it became a base for the Ordnance Survey, who brought workers in to map the Highland regions. And after that, it was converted into residential flats. When the flats lay derelict in 1968, the Inverness Civic Trust rescued the building and renovated it. It opened to the public as a music heritage centre in 1993, but this closed in 2000. Since then, the National Trust for Scotland has used it as an office.

So as you can see, Balnain use has had a great many uses over the years, and we are sure its fascinating story is not over yet!

Outlander Connections

Fans of the time travel book and TV series Outlander, a romantic story set in the 18th century Scottish Highlands, will have heard of Balnain. The Woman of Balnain is a Celtic harp song, which Gwyllyn the Bard performs at Castle Leoch in the first series of the show. It tells the story of the wife of the Laird of Balnain, who travelled through time by touching ancient stones, just as main character Claire does. Simon Fraser of Balnain also appears a couple of times in the books.

Visiting Balnain House

Balnain Hose is a great site to look out for in Inverness, located on Huntly Street on the picturesque shores of the River Ness. Although the house is currently closed to the public, visitors can view the exterior and read about the building’s history. Moreover, it is worth checking the latest Doors Open Days programme, which takes place in Scotland each September. The building is sometimes open to the public during these special weekends.

Images courtesy of wfmillar, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13929505


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