Inveraray & District
- Inveraray Castle:
The home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The Castle was built between 1745 and 1760. It is a short walk from the town and is open to the public between April and October.
- Dukes Tower:
This tower was built by the 10th Duke of Argyll as a noble memorial to all sons of Clan Campbell who fell in World War I. Its famous bells weighing nearly 8 tons are the second heaviest in the world after Wells Cathederal. The tower is open to the public for a few months of the year.
- The Inveraray Inn:
Described as "The Great Inn" when completed in 1755, and later known as the Argyll Arms Hotel. Many famous people stayed here, including James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, Robert Burns and Dorothy Wordsworth. A less than delighted Burns wrote of his stay in 1787: There's naething here but Highland pride, And Highland scab and hunger: If Providence has sent me here, 'Twas surely in his anger.
- The Avenue:
It is named after an avenue of beach trees planted in 1650. This historic avenue, and later a high wall, seperated the Duke of Argyll's estate from the land where the new town of Inveraray was eventually built. The old beech trees had to be felled in 1955-57.
- Visitor Information Centre:
This building completed in 1757, was orignally designed to be a courthouse and county prison. From the outset the courtroom proved to be too small, and the prison most insecure. After many delays, a new courthouse and prison (Inveraray Jail #12), were completed in 1820.
- Cross Green:
The town's cattle markets were held on the green until the 1950's. It is now a pleasent place to spend an hour or two admiring the wonderful views across Loch Shira and Loch Fyne.
- Mercat Cross:
This 15th century cross standing at the end of Inveraray Main Street formerly stood in the old town. Originally, it has come from some burial ground, as the commemorative inscription on the shaft reads: "Hec est crux nobilium virorum videlicet Dondcani meicgyllchomgan Patricii filii eius et Maelmore filii Patricii qui hanc crucem fiere faciebat." Translated “This is the cross of noble men, namely Duncanus MacCowan, Patricius, his son, and Mael-Moire, son of Patricius, who caused this cross to be made.” The crucifix has been defaced, and a figure of St Michael has been chiselled away from the back of the upper arm of the cross. This might have happened during the Reformation 1560.
- Parish Church:
Two churches in one, the parish church was built to house both Gaelic and English speaking congretations. Completed in 1802, long after the rest of the new town, the church has a solid central wall which orginally divided the two congregations. In the 1950's with few Gaelic speakers left, the Gaelic part of the church was adapted for use as a church hall. The pulpit is a copy of the one in the Baptistry at Pisa in Italy.
- Arkland and Relief Land:
These two blocks of houses with individual flats on each floor, were built between 1774 and 1776 to house the last of the people removed from the old Town. Relief land, as the name implies, housed the poorer people. Concerned that these new tenants would accidentally set fire to the houses, the Duke of Argyll insisted that all floors in Relief Land should be of stone flags supported on stone arches.
- The Newton:
This row of houses was once known as the Gallowgate. In the mid 1700's the many masons and labourers working on the Duke of Argyll's new castle were logged here. Where the Garage now stands, there was once a gasworks. It provided the town with gas for street lighting and operated from 1844 to 1964.
- Crombies Land:
This row of houses was built between 1822 and 1825. Neil Munro, the well known Scottish writter and author of Para Handy Tales, was born here in 1863.
- Inveraray Jail:
The former county courthouse and county prison for Argyll, it was completed in 1820. The courthouse was used by the Sheriff Court and less frequently by the High Court from Edinburgh. The prisons closed in 1889. With few people living in Inveraray, the Sheriff Court was moved to Dunoon in 1954. The Jail is open to the public all year.
- Factory Land:
Built by the Duke of Argyll in 1774 to house a wollen factory, the building orginally consisted of a large upstairs workroom with housing below for 11 workmen. The factory, producing a course yarn of woolen cloth, was so successful that after only three years the operation was moved to larger premises to the west of the town.
- Ferry Land:
This house went with the job of running the ferry from Inveraray to St. Catherine on the opposite shore of Loch Fyne. At the turn of the century the ferry was operated by the town council with a paddle steamer called Fairy. The service continued until the 1960's. The ferry transported livestock and people across the loch.
- First House:
This house was the first house to be built in the new town. Tack or lease to build a house on "the fern point" was granted in 1748 to local merchant John Richardson by the Duke of Argyll in recognition of his services in the Jacobite rebellion. In 1746 Richardson served the Duke without fee under Archibald Campbell of Ballamore, at Duart Castle on Mull and later became Lord Provost of Inveraray. First House is a fine Georgian building with an unusual left hand thread circular turnpike stair in the turret. It is now part of the George Hotel.
- Coffee House:
Built by the Duke of Argyll in 1878 in memory of his wife. The orignal house had a coffee and tea room on the ground floor, and a public library and reading room above.
- The Pier:
Started in 1759 the pier was extended several times to accommodate the herring fishing fleet, and later the large paddle steamers that linked Inveraray to Glasgow.
- Arctic Penguin:
This former lightship converted to look like a schooner was built in 1910 by the Dublin Drydock Company Ltd of Dublin for £7,230. It used to house a maritime museum until recently.
- War Memorial:
The Inveraray War Memorial is to be found on Cross Green, Front Street, Inveraray on the harbourside south of the A83. It takes the form of a kilted Highland soldier in Tam O'Shanter, standing at ease with rifle on a high, square, plinth of stones. There are 70 names listed from the two world wars. The memorial was first unveiled in 1922 by the Duke of Argyll; the sculptor was Mr Kellock Brown.
- George Hotel:
Built in 1770 as two private houses the Duke ordered in 1776 that two bottom floor flats be used as a temporary church untill the parish church across the road was completed in 1802. In 1860 the two private houses were amalgamated into the George Hotel by the Clark family, in whose possession the hotel still remains. Generation seven now resides in the hotel.
- Dun Na Cuiache:
The Watch Tower on the hill behind the castle is a folly built by the Duke of Argyll in 1748. It has always been a popular place to visit. Today a circular track leads up to the tower from the castle grounds. See the TODO page for walk details including maps.
An Inveraray Castle has been standing on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1400s, although the impressive castle we know today was inspired by a sketch by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard and started in 1746 by the 3rd Duke of Argyll. The castle was 43 years in construction and cost in excess of £300,000.
Inveraray prior to the reconstruction of the castle was little more than a collection of humble cottages, church, school and some forty three taverns but well enough established to become a burgh of barony in 1472 and a royal burgh in 1648. To ensure that the grounds around the new castle could be properly landscaped it was planned to move the town less than half a mile to Fernpoint. As early as 1747 by order of the 3rd Duke the renowned architect William Adam had drawn up plans for the creation of a new Inveraray. By 1770, however, little had been done, and it was the fifth Duke who set about rebuilding the town in its present form.
At that time Inveraray was isolated and the nearest road fit for a carriage was forty miles away. This was to change for military rather than social reasons. Following the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, it had become obvious that to control the clans, it was vital that troops should be able to move quickly throughout the Highlands.
General Wade was sent north to undertake the task, and set about creating a network of roads and bridges which would ensure that troops could be rushed from strategic bases in Fort William, Fort Augustus or Fort George to tackle any insurrection. Thus it is that the approach to Inveraray along Loch Fyne on the A83 actually follows one of Wade's old military roads; Aray Bridge, just before the castle, dates back to 1775 and is one of wade’s famous military bridges.
Part of the new Inveraray were completed by John Adam including the Argyll Hotel on Front Street as well as the Town House. The rest of the new Inveraray, however, was the creation of Robert Mylne, another celebrated architect of the period. The end product was an attractive town which included houses for estate workers, a woollen mill, and a pier to exploit herring fishing. This was to boom in later years and play a major role in the town's economic prosperity.
The finished product is one of the best examples of an 18th century new town in Scotland. The celebrated essayist Doctor Johnson, himself no fan of Scotland, was moved to comment on the new Inveraray: 'What I admire here is the total defiance of expense".
Inveraray became more accessible, both by land and sea and like many other towns on the Clyde, it was a popular destination for passengers after the coming of the steamship. Although regular shipping services have long since ceased, rendered extinct by the motor car, the paddle steamer Waverley still makes occasional calls.
Inveraray and the surrounding area provided a training ground for combined operations in the Second World War, being used extensively for amphibious landing exercises prior to D-Day, and for the training of commandos in the rugged terrain in the area. The combined training centre at Inveraray trained around a quarter of a million forces personnel in just 4 years. This was undoubtedly the largest training operation mounted in the history of the United Kingdom. A casualty of the war was the church steeple, which was regarded as being unsafe. It was removed in 1941. Each stone was carefully numbered and stored in the old quarry at Bealach an Fhuarain, with the intention of rebuilding the spire at the cessation of hostilities. The fate of these stones has long remained a mystery, but suffice to say that, by the end of the war, they had disappeared!
On the 27th June 1941, the Right Honourable Winston Churchill, Prime Minister and War Leader, visited the Inveraray Training Area. In the Autumn of 1941 His Majesty King George VI also visited the Inveraray Training Area. Other war time visitors included General Eisenhower, Major-General Thorne, G.O.C. Scottish Command and Mr. Winant, U.S. Ambassador to Britain.
Famous Sons and Visitors
One of the town's most famous sons was the author Neil Munro (1863 – 1930), who under the pseudonym Hugh Foulis created the puffer Vital Spark and her doughty crew of mariners. Munro's birthplace in Inveraray is commemorated by a plaque on the outside of the building.
Rob Roy Macgregor (1665-1734) lodged some time in a house on Benbui Farm Glen Shira; and here his son was born, who was hanged for the abduction of Jean Key from Balfron parish. Claudins Buchanan, D.D. (1766-1815), the Indian missionary, spent most of his boyhood at Inveraray.
Robert Burns neglected at the inn of Inverary in 1787, on account of the presence of some northern chiefs, and overlooked by His Grace of Argyll, the poet let loose his wrath and his rhyme: tradition speaks of a pursuit which took place on the part of the Clan chief, when he was told of his oversight, and of a resolution not to be soothed on the part of the bard.
Whoe'er he be that sojourns here,
I pity much his case,
Unless he's come to wait upon
The Lord their God, his Grace.
There's naething here but Highland pride
And Highland cauld and hunger;
If Providence has sent me here,
T'was surely in his anger.