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New research uncovers rich history at Inverness Castle

Inverness castle is being renovated into a tourism gateway to the Highlands.
Inverness castle is being renovated into a tourism gateway to the Highlands.

Hidden gems have been uncovered by contractors at Inverness Castle as works to revamp it into a gateway to the Highlands gains momentum.

Surveys have been carried out across the grounds of the city landmark on Castle Street in recent weeks during the initial stages of the project.

Artefacts and infrastructure dating back to the 18th century have now been discovered across the site, revealing new information about the history of city centre structure.

Within the castle building, specialists undertook historic paint investigations, painstakingly peeling back the layers of new paint to reveal hidden layers.

Investigations found finely painted colour schemes in both the grand entrance lobby and principal court room, revealing how the building had been decorated at the time of its construction over 180 years ago.

Elsewhere, archaeology investigations were carried out to determine what historical evidence of the site’s past life might be hidden below the surface.

Archaeology investigations have been carried out to determine the history of the castle.

Historic foundations showing the layout of shelters were found in the north courtyard.

A small number of artefacts including 19th century pottery, clay pipe fragments, a beautiful bowl and iron objects – believed to date back to the 18th century – were also recovered.

Externally, construction workers have carried out a thorough survey of a well, located between the existing towers of the main castle building.

A contractor from a specialist firm was lowered into the shaft to identify the origins of the structure.

Construction workers have also carried out a thorough survey of a well located on the grounds.

The shaft, which has been consumed by stones, rubble and general waste for several decades, has now been fully cleared to reveal a 12m deep structure with visible parts believed to be around 180 years old.

Breathing new life into the city landmark

Inverness Castle, which used to be the home of the city’s courts, is being transformed into a signature tourist attraction for the Highlands.

The restoration supported by £15 million Scottish Government and £3 million UK Government investment through the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael, said the discoveries will give tourists a rich insight into the castle’s origins.

She said: “It is fascinating that items are being discovered during the project works.

“The finds will be added to the rich tapestry of the story and history of Inverness Castle that will be told to future visitors to this major new visitor attraction.”

The transformation of the Category A Listed building will create a gateway for Highland tourism, contributing to reinvigoration of tourism across the area and providing much needed investment for the industry to aid the recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three-phase project aims to support economic growth throughout the Highland area, creating a sustainable, viable and “must-see” attraction that will celebrate the spirit of the Highlands.

The re-development of the building is being managed by High Life Highland on behalf of Highland Council.

The vision includes creating new galleries will be created within the castle to bring national and international exhibitions to the Highlands as well as new museum displays to showcase the culture and heritage of the north.

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