Old Inverlochy Castle
Inverlochy
Fort William, Scotland

Plan of Inverlochy Castle
Plan of Inverlochy Castle

 

Inverlochy Castle as it originally was - from the Plaque on site
Inverlochy Castle as it originally was - from the Plaque on site

 

Inside Inverlochy Castle looking towards the River Lochy gate
Inside Inverlochy Castle looking towards the River Lochy gate

 

The ruins of Comyn's Tower
The ruins of Comyn's Tower

Looking through the castle from the river gate to the front gate
Looking through the castle from the river gate to the front gate


 

History of Old Inverlochy Castle

The Castle was built in the 1200s by the Comyns of Badenoch. There is a legend it was sited on the remains of a fort of some sort dating back at least a further five hundred years.

The Comyns, modern name Cumming, were the rising stars of the Norman expansion in the 13th century. They had come out of the southern Lowlands to build an empire displacing Celtic families in the north. Inverlochy Castle was built by them as they sought to expand their own power by bringing Celtic Scotland to heel for the Scottish monarchy.

In the conflict that led up to the Battle of Bannockburn they supported the claim of the English crown to Scotland. However, after the defeat at Bannockburn, being on the losing side, they lost their lands in the northwest primarily to the Clan Donald. Their main allies in the Highlands, the MacDougalls, had their lands divided between the MacDonalds and the Campbells, setting the stage for the Jacobite conflict here more than 300 years later.

Like most Scottish castles of any value or importance, Inverlochy Castle passed through a number of hands, usually by force. The Comyns fell victim to Robert the Bruce’s royal ambitions, who passed it on to his supporters, and so on.

The first Battle of Inverlochy 1431. Alasdair Carrach, won a victory here for Clan Donald against the Earls of Mar and Caithness in their attempt to pacify the Lordship of the Isles in the name of the Scottish monarch. Though Alasdair Carrach’s archers made short work of the royal army, this battle was ultimately a rear guard action in the wake of the debacle of the Battle of Harlaw, which was the beginning of the end for the Lordship.

The Second Battle of Inverlochy 1645.Inverlochy Castle last played a part in Scottish history during the Civil Wars of 1642-1649. In 1645, the Campbells under the Earl of Argyll, who was holding it, were defeated by the royalist Marquis of Montrose, a victory that was followed by the wholesale massacre of 1,300 of the Campbell defenders who were taken out of the Castle and put to the sword.

Shortly after this the castle was abandoned in favour of a new fortification further down the River Lochy at its mouth where it joins Loch Linnhe. The town that grew up around this has become the modern Fort William.

Today the battlefields around the Castle are much changed, but the setting of the castle on the banks of the River Lochy are still evocative and it is easy to imagine the clansmen fleeing the battle by sailing away down the river to the Loch.