Fort George, Highland


Fort George (Gaelic: Dùn Deòrsa or An Gearastan, the latter meaning literally "the garrison"), is a large 18th-century fortress near Ardersier, to the north-east of Inverness in the Highland council area of Scotland. It was built to control the Scottish Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, replacing a Fort George in Inverness constructed after the 1715 Jacobite rising to control the area. The current fortress has never been attacked and has remained in continuous use as a garrison.

Fort George
Dùn Deòrsa  (Scottish Gaelic)
Ardersier, Highland, Scotland
Fort George - - 1242152.jpg
Fort George from the Air.
Fort George is located in Inverness area
Fort George
Fort George
Location within Inverness-shire
Coordinates57°35′02″N 4°04′13″W / 57.58389°N 4.07028°W / 57.58389; -4.07028Coordinates: 57°35′02″N 4°04′13″W / 57.58389°N 4.07028°W / 57.58389; -4.07028
TypeGeorgian Bastion fort
HeightUp to 12 metres (39 ft)
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
Operator British Army
Site history
Built forWar Office
In use1757-Present
EventsBuilt after the Jacobite rising of 1745
Garrison information
OccupantsThe Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland

The fortification is based on a star design; it remains virtually unaltered and nowadays is open to visitors with exhibits and facsimiles showing the fort's use at different periods, while still serving as an army barracks.

The first Fort GeorgeEdit

The first Fort George was built in 1727 in Inverness; it was a large fortress capable of housing 400 troops on a hill beside the River Ness, on the site of (and incorporating portions of) the medieval castle which had been rebuilt as a citadel by Oliver Cromwell but later abandoned. The first commanding officer of the original Fort George was Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet, Colonel of the 42nd Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) and chief of the Highland Clan Munro.[1]

During the 1745 rising the fort was seized by the Jacobites, who had it blown up in 1746 to prevent the Hanoverians from using it as a base.[2] In 1747 Colonel William Skinner, the King's Military Engineer for North Britain, let a contract to rebuild the fortress at a new location.[3]

Siting and constructionEdit

The site chosen was a level spit of land at Ardersier, about 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Inverness, which forms a promontory jutting into the Moray Firth and controls the sea approach to Inverness. With its own harbour below the walls, the fort could be supplied by sea in the event of a siege.[4]

Work began in 1748, with Colonel Skinner in charge, and the Adam brothers, John, Robert and later James, acting as contractors, overseeing around 1,000 soldiers who provided labour and defended the site against attack. By 1757 the main defences were in place, and Fort George was finally completed in 1769. The original budget was £92,673 19s 1d, but the final cost was more than £200,000, a vast figure at the time.[4]


The fortifications form an example of defence in depth. The main walls are stone-faced, in plan faceted and angled with projecting bastions and redoubts so that every wall face is covered by fire from guns sited on top of other walls. The walls are many yards wide and grassed over, on top of barrel-vaulted casemates which form underground bunkers designed to protect the entire garrison from artillery fire. The approach to the fortress from the landward side is across a wide area of loose shingle which creates a protective barrier.[5]

Sloping grassy banks designed to absorb artillery shells all but hide the fort from view. The entrance is reached via a ravelin, a free-standing defensive structure incorporating a guardhouse and completely exposed to fire from the main fort, then by a raised wooden walkway, complete with drawbridge, bridging across a wide ditch set between heavily defended bastions. The ditch forms a wide killing ground openly exposed to gunfire from these walls.[6]

Barracks buildings, Fort George

Operational useEdit

Following the Childers Reforms, the 72nd (Highland) Regiment of Foot and the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot amalgamated to form the Seaforth Highlanders with its depot in the barracks in 1881.[7] In 1961 the regiment amalgamated with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders to form the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons): the new regiment formed its depot at Fort George at that time.[8] The barracks became the home of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2007.[9]

In November 2016 the Ministry of Defence announced that the site would close in 2032,[10] with Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon commenting that it was no longer needed because the Highland rebellions are over.[11]

Visitor accessEdit

The barracks are still in use as a military establishment, but much of the site is open to the public (entrance charge). Historic Environment Scotland use part of one of the barracks to display reconstructions of life in the early days of the fort, and the Grand Magazine displays the Seafield Collection of Arms as well as forming a stage for actors recreating the lives and stories of soldiers in the 18th century.[12] The site received 76,169 visitors during 2019.[13]

Highlanders' Museum (Queen's Own Highlanders Collection)Edit

The former Lieutenant Governors’ House is home to the Highlanders' Museum, the official regimental museum of the Queen's Own Highlanders and Lovat Scouts. The exhibits include uniforms, weapons, medals, First World War memorial plaques known as "death pennies", photographs, paintings, memorabilia and regimental regalia. Displays include the history of the regiments, their links to the clans, the Highland charge, Sergeant Alexander Edwards and other notable regimental members, and the regiments' activities in different conflicts. The regimental Chapel is also open to visitors, and features many regimental colours and memorials.[14]



  1. ^ Oppenheimer, Julian. (1998). Munro's Luck, From Scotland to Keera, Weebollabolla, Boombah and Ross Roy. ISBN 0-9585751-0-X.
  2. ^ Old Buildings of Inverness
  3. ^ William Skinner, DNB, accessed 31 January 2013
  4. ^ a b Walsh, David (6 September 2016). "Why was Fort George built?". The Scotsman. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Old plans give clues to defences". BBC. 16 October 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Fort George – Outer Ditch". Trip Advisor. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Training Depots". Archived from the original on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Cameron Barracks". Am Baile. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Royal Regiment of Scotland". British Army units 1945 on. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Eight military bases in Scotland to close". BBC News. 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  11. ^ Ross, Calum (9 November 2016). "The Highland rebellions are over". The Press and Journal. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  12. ^ "Fort George". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  13. ^ "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Regimental Chapel". Highlanders' Museum. Retrieved 28 October 2016.

Further readingEdit

  • Grove, Doreen (August 1986). "Floreat Fort George". Popular Archaeology. 7 (7): 2–9.
  • Duffy, Christopher (1985). The Fortress in the Age of Vauban and Frederick the Great, 1660-1789. Siege Warfare, Volume II. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 318. ISBN 0-7100-9648-8.

External linksEdit

  • Historic Environment Scotland. "Fort George (SM6692)".
  • Historic Environment Scotland. "Fort George (Category A Listed Building) (LB1721)".
  • Fort George museum
  • Highlander's Museum – official site
  • "Archival material relating to Fort George, Highland". UK National Archives.