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Inverness ( , ) is a city in northern Scotlandmarker. The city is the administrative centre for the Highlandmarker council area, and is promoted as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The city lies near the site of the 18th century Battle of Cullodenmarker and at the northeastern extremity of the Great Glen, where the River Nessmarker enters the Inverness/Moray Firth making it a natural hub for various transport links. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdommarker. A settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by King David I in the 12th century.

The population of Inverness increased by over 10% from 1991-2001 and from 1997-2007 with an estimated population in 2006 of 54,000. (This figure of 54,000 is made up of the population of the census administrative area known as Inverness which was estimated at 46,100 plus the estimated 7,900 people living in the immediately adjacent urban settlement of the Culloden census administrative area - an area which covers Westhill, Smithton and Balloch as well as Culloden.) The city is forecast to grow by approximately 40% over the next two decades. Inverness is Europe's fastest growing city and ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city. Inverness is twinned with one German city, Augsburgmarker and two French towns, La Baulemarker and Saint-Valery-en-Cauxmarker.

Inverness College is the main campus for the UHI Millennium Institute and offers one of the widest ranging curricula in Scotland. With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands' students, and 30% of those studying to degree level.

Scottish Gaelic appears on the majority of road signs around Inverness, with a significant number of people speaking the language in the city. The Bòrd na Gàidhlig holds its main office in Inverness, an organisation responsible for supporting and promoting the use of Scottish Gaelic.


Inverness at the end of the 17th century
Inverness was one of the chief strongholds of the Picts, and in AD 565 was visited by St Columba with the intention of converting the Pictish king Brude, who is supposed to have resided in the vitrified fort on Craig Phadrig, on the western edge of the city. A silver chain dating to 500-800 was found just to the south at Torvean. A church or a monk's cell is thought to have been established by early Celtic monks on St Michael's Mount, a mound close to the river, now the site of the Old High Churchmarker and graveyard. The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Mac Bethad mac Findláich had, according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Donnchad , and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east.

The strategic location of Inverness has led to many conflicts in the area. Reputedly there was a battle in the early 11th century between King Malcolm and Thorfinn of Norway at Blar Nam Feinne, to the southwest of the city.

Inverness had four traditional fairs, one of them being Legavrik (leth-gheamradh). William the Lion (d. 1214) granted Inverness four charters, by one of which it was created a royal burgh. Of the Dominican friary founded by Alexander III in 1233, only one pillar and a worn knight's effigy survive in a secluded graveyard near the town centre.

Medieval Inverness suffered regular raids from the Western Islesmarker, particularly by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the fifteenth century. In 1187 one Donald Bane led islanders in a battle at Torvean against men from Inverness Castle led by the governor's son, Duncan Mackintosh. Both leaders were killed in the battle, Donald Bane is said to have been buried in a large cairn near the river, close to where the silver chain was found. Local tradition says that the citizens fought off the Clan MacDonald in 1340 at the Battle of Blairnacoi on Drumderfit Hill, north of Inverness across the Beauly Firthmarker. On his way to the Battle of Harlawmarker in 1411, Donald of Islay harried the city, and sixteen years later James I held a parliament in the castle to which the northern chieftains were summoned, of whom three were executed for asserting an independent sovereignty. Clan Munro defeated Clan Mackintosh in 1454 at the Battle of Clachnaharrymarker just west of the city. The Clan MacDonald and their allies stormed the castle during the Raid on Ross in 1491.

In 1562, during the progress undertaken to suppress Huntly's insurrection, Queen Mary was denied admittance into Inverness Castlemarker by the governor, who belonged to the earl's faction, and whom she afterwards caused to be hanged. The Clan Munro and Clan Fraser took the castle for her. The house in which she lived meanwhile stood in Bridge Street until the 1970s, when it was demolished to make way for the second Bridge Street development. The city's Marymass Fair, on the Saturday nearest 15 August, (a tradition revived in 1986) is said to commemorate Queen Mary as well as the Virgin Mary.

Beyond the then northern limits of the town, Oliver Cromwell built a citadel capable of accommodating 1000 men, but with the exception of a portion of the ramparts it was demolished at the Restoration. The only surviving modern remnant is a clock tower. In 1715 the Jacobites occupied the royal fortress as a barracks. In 1727 the government built the first Fort Georgemarker here, but in 1746 it surrendered to the Jacobites and they blew it up.

Cullodenmarker Moor lies nearby, and was the site of the Battle of Cullodenmarker in 1746, which ended the Jacobite Rising of 1745-1746.

On September 7, 1921, the first UK Cabinet meeting to be held outside Londonmarker took place in the Town House, when David Lloyd George, on holiday in Gairlochmarker, called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Irelandmarker. The Inverness Formula composed at this meeting was the basis of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.


The name Inverness is Gaelic and translates as 'mouth of the river Ness'. See Aber and Inver as place-name elements. Since the town predates Gaelic settlement, it is likely the name is a Gaelic adaptation of an older form with Aber-. In the colonial period the name was given by expatriates to settlements in Nova Scotiamarker, Montanamarker, Floridamarker, Illinoismarker, and Californiamarker.

Inverness is also known by its nicknames Invershneckie and The Shneck.

Geography and Climate

River Ness and Inverness Castle
Inverness lies at the mouth of the River Nessmarker, and it is from this that the city derives its name: Inbhir Nis is Scots Gaelic for "mouth (or confluence) of the Ness". In nominal terms, the river mouth is at the southwestern and most inland extremity of the Moray Firth ( ). The Beauly Firthmarker may be seen, however, as a westward and more inland extension of the Moray Firth. Also, Inverness Firth has some currency as a name for the section of the Moray Firth between the mouth of the River Ness and the more eastward promontory of Fort Georgemarker ( ).

The river flows from nearby Loch Nessmarker and the Caledonian Canalmarker and connects Loch Ness, Loch Oichmarker, and Loch Lochymarker.

Islands in the River Nessmarker, the Bught and the river banks form a pleasant series of walks, as do the forested hills of Craig Phadraig and Craig Dunain. The city is well served with shops, as it is the main shopping centre for an area of nearly 26,000 km².

Inverness has an Oceanic climate and is one of the coldest cities in the United Kingdommarker.


Raigmore is the main hospital in Inverness and the entire Highland authority. The present hospital opened in 1970, replacing wartime wards dating from 1941.

Raigmore is also a teaching hospital catering for both the Universities of Aberdeen and Stirling. A new Centre for Health Science is located behind Raigmore Hospitalmarker. This is being funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Executive and Johnson and Johnsonmarker. Phase I of this opened in early 2007, phase II is under construction and phase III has been funded. The University of Stirling is moving its operations from Raigmore Hospital to the CfHS. The UHI also has strong links with the centre through its Faculty of Health.


Most of the traditional industries such as distilling have been replaced by high-tech businesses, such as the design and manufacture of diabetes diagnostic kits. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has partly funded the Centre for Health Science with a view to attracting more businesses in the medical and medical devices business to the area. Inverness is home to Scottish Natural Heritage following that body's relocation from Edinburgh under the auspices of the Scottish Government's decentralisation strategy. SNH provides a large number of jobs in the area.

Inverness High Street heading towards Church Street

Inverness City Centre lies on the east bank of the river and is linked to the west side of the town by three road bridges (Ness Bridge, Friars Bridge and the Black (or Waterloo) Bridge) and by one of the town's suspension foot bridges, the Grieg Street Bridge. The traditional city centre was a triangle bounded by High Street, Church Street and Academy Street, within which Union Street and Queensgate are cross streets parallel to High Street. Between Union Street and Queensgate is the Victorian Market, which contains a large number of small shops. The main Inverness railway stationmarker is almost directly opposite the Academy Street entrance to the Market. From the 1970s, the Eastgate Shopping Centre marker was developed to the east of High Street, with a substantial extension being completed in 2003. The streets of the main shopping areas in Inverness has been mapped at


The city has a number of different education institutions including a number of primary schools, secondary schools and the higher education institution of Inverness College. The city also has a specialised gaelic primary school and a new Centre for Health Sciences.

Inverness College

Inverness College is situated in the city and is the largest member of The UHI Millennium Institute, which is a federation of 15 colleges and research institutions in the Highlands and Islands of Scotlandmarker delivering higher education. As part of the UHI the college offers university level courses, and ultimately aims to become part of a University of the Highlands and Islands with its participation in the UHI Millennium Institute.

Architects and planning agents have been appointed to draw up a master plan for the proposed new Inverness College UHI campus which will include research facilities, a business school, student residences and a regional sports centre of excellence. The 200-acre campus at Beechwood, just off the A9 south of Inverness, shown on the right, is considered by the Highland Council to be one of the most important developments for the region over the next 20 years. An outline planning application could be submitted by early 2009.

MAKE Architects and planning agents Turnberry Consulting have been appointed to come up with the blueprint.The Principal of UHI (as of Oct 09), James Fraser, said: “This is a flagship development which will provide Inverness with a university campus and vibrant student life. It will have a major impact on the city and on the Highlands and Islands. UHI is a partnership of colleges and research centres throughout the region, and the development of any one partner brings strength to the whole institution."

It is estimated that the new campus would contribute more than £50m to the economy of the Highlands because it could attract innovative commercial businesses interested in research and development, while increasing the number of students who study within the city by around 3,000.


Inverness is linked to the Black Islemarker across the Moray Firth by the Kessock Bridgemarker. It has a railway stationmarker with services to Perthmarker, Edinburghmarker, Glasgowmarker, Londonmarker, Aberdeenmarker, Thursomarker, Wickmarker and to Kyle of Lochalshmarker. Inverness is connected to London by the Caledonian Sleeper, which departs six times a week and by the Highland Chieftain which runs 7 days a week. Inverness Airportmarker is located 15 km east of the city and has scheduled flights to airports across the UK and Republic of Ireland including Londonmarker, Manchestermarker, Edinburghmarker, Belfastmarker, Dublinmarker and the islands to the north and west of Scotland. Some local controversy arose when British Airways sold off the landing slots at Heathrowmarker for the three daily flights to and from Inverness as part of the proposed link up with American Airlines which eventually failed.

Three trunk roads (the A9, A82marker and A96) provide access to Aberdeen, Perth, Elgin, Thurso, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Inverness Trunk Road Link

Plans are in place to convert the A96 between Inverness and Nairnmarker to a dual carriageway and to construct a southern bypass that would link the A9, A82 and A96 together involving crossings of the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness in the Torvean area, southwest of the town.

The bypass, known as the Inverness Trunk Road Link (TRL), is aimed at resolving Inverness’s transport problems and has been split into two separate projects, the east and west sections. The east section will bypass Inshes Roundabout, a notorious traffic bottleneck, using a new road linking the existing Southern Distributor with the A9 and the A96, both via grade separated interchanges. This proposed new link road would bypass Inshes roundabout, as stated before, and separate strategic traffic from local traffic as well as accommodating proposals for new development at the West Seafield Retail and Business Park and also a new UHI campus.

At the west end, two options for crossing the river and canal were developed. One involving a high level vertical opening bridge which will allow the majority of canal traffic to pass under without the need for opening. The other involved a bridge over the river and an aqueduct under the canal. Both of these designs are technically complex and were considered in detail along by the key stakeholders involved in the project. Ultimately it was decided that a bridge over the river and a tunnel under the canal were the best option, allow more expensive.

In late 2008 the controversial decision by the Scottish Government not to include the full Inverness bypass in its transport plan for the next 20 years was made. The government's Strategic Transport Projects Review did however, include the eastern section of the route, which will see the A9 at Inshes linked to the A96.

But the absence of the TRL's western section, which would include a permanent crossing over the Caledonian Canal and River Ness, sparked dismay among several Highland councillors and business leaders in Inverness who feel the bypass is vital for the city's future economic growth.

When the Trunk Road Link is completed this will ease gridlock in the City Centre and provide opportunities for Transport Demand Management measures throughout the city as well as environmental enhancement in the City Centre in line with National Transport Strategy of reducing emissions and congestion in City Centres.

Upgrading of the A9 South

In late 2008 the Scottish Government's transport plan for the next 20 years was announced. It brings forward planned improvements to the A9 in an attempt to stimulate the economy and protect jobs.

Work costing a total of £8.5 million will take place at Moymarker, Carrbridgemarker and Bankfootmarker. Northbound overtaking lanes will be created and the carriageways reconstructed at both Moy and Carrbridge. Junction improvements will also be made at Moy, with work due to get under way in September 2009. With the Carrbridge scheme is due to be begin in February 2009.

Nationally an extra £38 million is to be spent this financial year, followed by a further £232 million in 2009 and 2010.

It is estimated the move will help support in the region of around 4000 jobs across Scotland.


Local government

Inverness was an autonomous royal burgh, and county town for the county of Inverness (also known as Inverness-shire) until 1975, when local government counties and burghs were abolished, under the Local Government Act 1973, in favour of two-tier regions and districts and unitary islands council areas. The royal burgh was then absorbed into a new district of Inverness, which was one of eight districts within the Highlandmarker region. The new district combined in one area the royal burgh, the Inverness district of the county and the Airdmarker district of the county. The rest of the county was divided between other new districts within the Highland region and the Western Islesmarker. Therefore, although much larger than the royal burgh, the new Inverness district was much smaller than the county.

In 1996, under the Local Government etc Act 1994, the districts were abolished and the region became a unitary council area. The new unitary Highland Councilmarker, however, adopted the areas of the former districts as council management areas, and created area committees to represent each. The Inverness committee represents 23 out of the 80 Highland Council ward, with each ward electing one councillor by the first past the post system of election. However, management area and committee area boundaries have been out of alignment since 1999, as a result of changes to ward boundaries. Also, ward boundaries are changing again this year, 2007, and the council management areas are being replaced with three new corporate management areas.

Ward boundary changes in 2007, under the Local Governance Act 2004, create 22 new Highland Council wards, each electing three or four councillors by the single transferable vote system of election, a system designed to produce a form of proportional representation. The total number of councillors remains the same. Also, the Inverness management area is being merged into the new Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspeymarker corporate management area, covering nine of the new wards and electing 34 of the 80 councillors. As well as the Inverness area, the new area includes the former Nairnmarker management area and the former Badenoch and Strathspey management area. The corporate area name is also that of a constituency, but boundaries are different.

Within the corporate area there is a city management area covering seven of the nine wards, the Aird and Loch Ness ward, the Culloden and Ardersier ward, the Inverness Central ward, the Inverness Millburn ward, the Inverness Ness-side ward, the Inverness South ward and the Inverness West ward. The Nairn ward and the Badenoch and Strathspey ward complete the corporate area. Wards in the city management area are to be represented on a city committee as well as corporate area committees.

City status

In 2001 city status was granted to the Town of Inverness, and letters patent were taken into the possession of the Highland Council by the convener of the Inverness area committee. These letters patent, which were sealed in March 2001 and are held by Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, create a city of Inverness, but do not refer to anywhere with defined boundaries, except that Town of Inverness may be taken as a reference to the burgh of Inverness. As a local government area the burgh was abolished 26 years earlier, in 1975, and so was the county of Inverness for which the burgh was the county town. Nor do they refer to the former district or to the royal burgh.

The Highland area was created as a two-tier local government region in 1975, and became a unitary local government area in 1996. The region consisted of eight districts, of which one was called Inverness. The districts were all merged into the unitary area. As the new local government authority, the Highland Councilmarker then adopted the areas of the districts as council management areas. The management areas were abolished in 2007, in favour of three new corporate management areas. The council has defined a large part of the Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey corporate areamarker as the Inverness city management area. This council-defined city area includes Loch Nessmarker and numerous towns and villages apart from the former burgh of Inverness.

In January 2008 a petition to matriculate armorial bearings for the City of Inverness was refused by Lord Lyon King of Arms on the grounds that there is no legal persona to which arms can be granted.

Parliamentary representation

There are three existing parliamentary constituencies with Inverness as an element in their names:

These existing constituencies are effectively subdivisions of the Highlandmarker council area, but boundaries for Westminster elections are now very different from those for Holyrood elections. The Holyrood constituencies are also subdivisions of the Highlands and Islands electoral region.

Historically there have been six Westminster constituencies:

Inverness Burghs was a district of burghs constituency, covering the parliamentary burghs of Inverness, Fortrosemarker, Forresmarker and Nairnmarker. Inverness-shire covered, at least nominally, the county of Inverness minus the Inverness parliamentary burgh. As created in 1918, Inverness covered the county minus Outer Hebrideanmarker areas, which were merged into the Western Isles constituencymarker. The Inverness constituency included the former parliamentary burgh of Inverness. As created in 1983, Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber was one of three constituencies covering the Highland region, which had been created in 1975. As first used in 1997, the Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, and Ross, Skye and Inverness West constituencies were effectively two of three constituencies covering the Highland unitary council area, which had been created in 1996.

Town twinning

Culture and sports

River Ness
Inverness is an important centre for bagpipe players and lovers, since every September the city hosts the Northern Meeting, the most prestigious solo piping competition in the world. The Inverness cape, a garment worn by pipers the world over in the rain, is not necessarily made in Inverness.

Another major event in calendar is the annual City of Inverness Highland Games. In 2006 Inverness hosted Scotland's biggest ever Highland Games over two days in July, featuring the Masters' World Championships, the showcase event for heavies aged over 40 years. 2006 was the first year that the Masters' World Championships had been held outside the United Statesmarker, and it attracted many top heavies from around the world to the Inverness area.

The current music scene within Inverness generally leans towards an emo/punk/hardcore style, but there are also bands who show features of different genres such as rock, metal, pop, classical, grunge, industrial and traditional Scottish music. The Ironworks venue has attracted a greater variety of music to Inverness.

Inverness is home to two summer music festivals, Rockness and the Tartan Heart Festival, that bring a variety of different music to the town.

The city is home to two football clubs. Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C. was formed in 1994 from the merger of two Highland League clubs, Caledonian F.C. and Inverness Thistle. "Caley Thistle" of the Scottish First Division plays at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium and lays claim to have the longest name for any football club in the world. The town's second football club, Clachnacuddin F.C., plays in the Highland League. Inverness Citadel F.C. was another popular side which became defunct, but had its name revived [22291]

Highland RFC is the local rugby union club that competes regularly in the Scottish Hydro Electric National Leagues division two.

Inverness Blitz is a charity that promotes the development of American football in Inverness and the surrounding area. Bught Park, located in the centre of Inverness is the finishing point of the annual Loch Ness Marathon and home of Inverness Shinty Club.

Cricket is also played in Inverness, with both Highland CC and Northern Counties playing in the North of Scotland Cricket Association League and 7 welfare league teams playing midweek cricket at Fraser Park. Both teams have been very successful over the years. Highland joined the league in 1957 and won its first league title in 2002 and recaptured the title in 2007.

In 2007, the city hosted Highland 2007, a celebration of the culture of the Highlands, and will also host the World Highland Games Heavy Championships (21 & 22 July) and European Pipe Band Championships (28 July). 2008 saw the first Hi-Ex (Highlands International Comics Expo), held at the Eden Court Theatremarker.

Inverness is the location of Macbeth's castle in Shakespeare's play.


Important buildings in Inverness include Inverness Castlemarker, Inverness College and various churches.

The castle was built in 1835 on the site of its medieval predecessor. It is now a sheriff court.

Inverness Cathedralmarker, dedicated to St Andrew, is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church and seat of the ordinary of the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. The cathedral has a curiously square-topped look to its spires, as funds ran out before they could be completed.

The oldest church is the Old High Churchmarker, on St Michael's Mount by the riverside, a site perhaps used for worship since Celtic times. The church tower dates from mediaeval times, making it the oldest surviving building in Inverness. It is used by the Church of Scotlandmarker congregation of Old High St Stephen's, Invernessmarker, and it is the venue for the annual Kirking of the Council, which is attended by local councillors.

Inverness College is the hub campus for the UHI Millennium Institute.

Porterfield Prison, officially HMP Invernessmarker, serves the courts of the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney Isles and Moray, providing secure custody for all remand prisoners and short term adult prisoners, both male and female (segregated). HMP Inverness, Scottish Prison Service website
Ordnance Survey grid reference:

Famous people

Towns and villages

Apart from the former burgh of Inverness, the Highland Council's city management area includes Ardersiermarker, Beaulymarker, Cullodenmarker, Balloch, Drumnadrochitmarker, Fort Augustusmarker, Invermoristonmarker, Smithton, Tomatinmarker, Kirkhill and Kiltarlitymarker.

Areas of the city


  1. The Highland Council website, accessed 6 March 2006
  2. Inverness city
  3. The Scottish Government Publications Economic Report 2004, accessed 28 March 2009
  4. The Highland Council
  5. New Statesman
  6. Property market: Is your home recession proof? 12:01am GMT 03/02/2008, accessed 6 March 2008
  7. City of Inverness Town Twinning Committee
  8. Argyll College
  9. Argyll College
  10. Bòrd na Gàidhlig
  11. Craig Phadrig, Inverness, Walk in Scotland, Visitscotland
  12. . Silver chain was found at when digging the Caledonian Canal in 1809.
  13. Inverness churches
  14. . Blar Nam Feinne is on Cnoc na Moine ( ).
  15. . RCAHMS locate the battle of Torvean at
  16. . The cairn at disappeared in the 19th or 20th centuries, it has also been claimed to mark the resting place of St Bean(Beóán) the Culdee.
  17. . Battle of Clachnaharry took place at .
  18. George Buchanan's (1506 -1582), History of Scotland, completed in 1579, first published in 1582.
  19. Inverness on Undiscovered Scotland
  20. Welcome to NHS Highland
  21. Raigmore Hospital
  22. Inverness Town Centre Map
  23. Inverness Shops
  24. Argyll College
  25. Inverness Campus
  26. The Highland Main Line, the Aberdeen-Inverness Line and the Far North Line meet at Inverness (Ordnance Survey ). Also, Kyle of Lochalsh services run to and from Inverness via the Far North Line to Dingwall.
  27. Ordnance Survey grid reference for Inverness Airport (access from A96 road): .
  28. The Highland Council website
  29. The Inverness Courier
  30. The Inverness Courier
  31. The Inverness Courier
  32. Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994, Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website
  33. Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website
  34. Helen Liddell joins Inverness celebrations as Scotland’s Millennium City, Scotland Office press release 19 Mar 2001
  35. Ordnance Survey grid reference for Inverness Museum and Art Gallery:
  36. Key Decisions Taken on Council Post 2007, Highland Council news release, 15 December 2006, includes a list of wards within the Inverness management area
  37. Coat of arms rejected in city status query, The Inverness Courier, accessed February 12, 2008
  38. Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Parliament website, retrieved 10 July 2007
  39. John Farquhar Munro MSP, Scottish Parliament website, retrieved 11 July 2007
  40. "Inverness Blitz" Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  41. Highland 2007, Information on the European Pipe Band Championships
  42. First superheroes expo for north, BBC, January 18, 2008
  43. Scots' impact on comics examined, BBC, January 18, 2008
  44. Oold High Church, Riverside Churches Clergy Fraternal website
  45. Old High St Stephen’s website
  46. UHI Millennium Institute website

External links

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