Fyrish Hill and Monument

There is a remarkable monument built about 45 minutes north of Inverness. It makes for a great destination on a trip from the city. Atop Fyrish Hill sits Fyrish Monument. From a distance, you could mistake it for the ruins of an ancient castle. Although it is certainly old and dating from the 1700s, it stands as testament to the good of one man to provide work for an impoverished community.


Scotland's dark chapter

The Highland clearances

To tell the story of the monument, we must first go back to one of Scotland’s darker chapters – the Highland clearances. In the later part of the 1700s, most of the population of the Highlands worked land owned by wealthy landowners. They paid a rent to them in order to do so. 

Problems arose when the landowners discovered that it would be more profitable for them to let sheep roam their lands, rather than allow people to work on them. And so, they began a violent and forcible removal of men and women whose families had worked the same fields for generations. Some moved south towards Edinburgh and England. Others travelled further afield to America or Australia.

Comparatively very few remained, and those that did found work extremely difficult to find. 

Sir Hector Munro

Not all landowners were heartless and this is where the origins of the Fyrish Monument can be found. Sir Hector Munro was 8th Earl of Novar and a native Lord of the area. He returned from fighting in India at the height of the clearances. He was disgusted at what he saw, and vowed to help those who remained. 

So in 1782 he asked the local workers to build a monument to his victories in India by using stones on the hill. By doing so, he could pay them for their labour. Some say that he even kicked stones from the top of the hill to the bottom. That way it would take them longer to finish (and thus would be paid even more). The men earned one penny a day for their hard work. 

Fyrish Monument

The design of the monument is striking, with grand arches and chimney-like structures. It represents the Gates of Negapatam, an Indian port which General Munro took for the British from the Dutch in a 4-week siege in 1781.

Getting to Fyrish Hill

Fyrish Hill (or Cnoc Fyrish in Gaelic) is quite a steep climb. It is near Alness in Ross and Cromarty. Starting from Alness, it is around a 2-3 hour walk. To get there form Inverness, you are looking at a drive lasting a little under an hour. 

The What3Words for Fyrish Monument is deluded.happier.shepherdess.


Other remarkable places to visit

If you like the look of Fyrish Hill and monument, then take a look at some of the other wonderful sites to visit in and around Inverness on our blog. For beautiful mountain walks to the history of ancient people who used to live here, there is plenty to keep you busy on your next trip to Inverness. 


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