Highlands & Islands

Price tag for Inverness Castle's North Tower revamp

Inverness Castle Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Inverness Castle has served as a county hall and a jail in the past

The cost of opening up Inverness Castle's North Tower and its look-out as a new tourist attraction has been estimated at £360,000.

Built in stages in the 1800s on the site of previous historic castles, the sprawling site was first used as a county hall and later as a jail.

In more recent times it has served as Inverness Sheriff Court.

Highland Council owns the North Tower and is leading a project to make it available to tourists.

High Life Highland, an organisation running leisure sites in the region, has estimated that the tower could attract almost 30,000 visitors every year.

The look-out gives views across the city, the Beauly Firth, Moray Firth and surrounding hills and mountains.

Highland Council has earmarked £200,000 for the project and hopes £100,000 will be made available from the Inverness Common Good Fund and £60,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

The rest of the castle would continue to be run as a sheriff court.

Image copyright Highland Council
Image caption Highland Council owns the North Tower of Inverness Castle
Image copyright Highland Council
Image caption The tower's look-out gives views over the city and surrounding hills
Image copyright Highland Council
Image caption A plan of the North Tower

The sandstone Inverness Castle was built in 1836 to plans drawn by architect William Burn.

It was constructed on a mound overlooking the city and the River Ness. In 1848, a building known as the North Block was added and served as a prison.

But it is thought that a castle may have occupied the site from as far back as the 11th Century.

Over the centuries, the fortification fell under the control of the forces of Edward I, Robert the Bruce and James I, II and IV.

In 1562, it was attacked and damaged by soldiers loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots, before it was almost destroyed by Royalist troops in the 1600s.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces blew the castle up in 1746 to prevent it from falling into the hands of government troops.

It was said that a French sergeant, who had brought his poodle with him to Scotland, set off the explosives.

The soldier was caught in the blast, and his body was blown across to the opposite side of the River Ness. His dog survived.

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