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Inverlochy

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Inverlochy
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Location Information
Name Inverlochy
Owner ruins
NGR NN 1203 7544
Lon. & Lat. 56.832285,-5.082400
Council Highland
Parish Kilmonivaig
Nearby Castles n/a
Year built 13th c.
Overview map
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The castle was built in the 1200's by the Comyns of Badenoch who were destroyed by Robert the Bruce around 1308 and the castle then went to the Gordons of Huntly, who were granted it in 1506 with permission to strengthen its defenses and outworks. Some of the additions made around the landward gate may date from this time.


Inverlochy Castle differs from other west highland early stone castles in its level site, which allowed the layout of a quadrangular courtyard with its circular tower at each corner (unlike, for example, Dunstaffnage Castle, the walls of which follow the edges of the rock on which it sits). It was surrounded on three sides by a now silted up ditch, and the fourth side was protected by the River Lochy. The west tower is larger than the others and was used as a 'Donjon' or Lords residence, with its hall on the first floor and his private rooms above. As is usual in such cases, it was placed, for safety, in the most inaccessible part of the site, by the river. The towers have stairs curving round within the thickness of the walls; in the north tower survives a narrow slit window and a 'fish-tail' base. Both these features can be found in 13th century work at Dunstaffnage.


The accommodation within the towers would have been supplemented with buildings of fairly light construction, within the courtyard, mostly built against the curtain walls. The wall-walks has parapets on both sides, and were no doubt covered to protect the defenders: the battlements on the southwest wall date from c.1905, but the original surface of the wall-walk survives there and elsewhere around the circuit. It does not survive above either of the gateways, but here there would have been winches by which the portcullises (traces for the slot for a portcullis are visible at each gate) could be lowered, although there are no signs that the elaborate gatehouse, for example, at Kildrummy Castle was intended at either gate.


The senior branch of the Comyn family, the Red Comyns, held the Lordship of Lochaber from at least the 1230's. The Red Comyns, and their cousins, the Black Comyns, were prominent supporters of John Balliol as king, and - especially after his killing of John (the Red) Comyn in the church of the Franciscan Friary at Dumfries in 1306, bitter opponents of King Robert Bruce, who defeated them in a pitched battle at Inverurie in 1308.


There were two battles at the castle. In the first in 1431 the Macdonalds defeated the Stewarts. The second occurred in 1645 when the Marquis Montrose defeated the Campbells under the earl of Argyll. The victory was then followed by a massacre of 1300 of the defenders.

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