Plans To Open Scotland’s Historic Inverness Castle

Scotland has unveiled plans to transform a historic landmark into a new tourist attraction. Inverness Castle’s North Tower and its bird’s-eye view lookout could open to the public by 2016.

Built in phases in 1863, the extended site originally was home to an 11th-century defensive structure, later becoming a county hall and then a jail. In more recent times, however, the castle has serviced as Inverness Sheriff Court.

Highland Council owns the North Tower and is surveying how the historical site, which sits in a separate wing of the castle and originally served as a jail, could be made available to visitors. Current development would offer visitors a panorama view of the city, down the Great Glen, across to Ben Wyvis, around Loch Ness, and out to the Black Isle and Moray Firth.

“We’ve been trying to think of ways we can make the castle more accessible to people and this is one of the ideas which could be progressed relatively quickly,” said Councilor Thomas Prag, chairman of the council’s planning, development and infrastructure committee.

“The tower has remarkable views. I was chairman of Highland Festivals, which had an office in the tower, and on a good day you could look at Ben Wyvis in one direction and down the Great Glen over Loch Ness in the other.”

Plans To Open Scotland’s Historic Inverness Castle   - Clapway

Earlier this year, local officials joined the Scottish government in creating a team to overlook the castle’s future tourism potential. But because Highland Council owns the North Tower, it could be opened up to tourists much sooner than other parts of the landmark.

“Tourism is currently worth £88m per annum to the city of Inverness,” Chief Executive Steve Barron said. “Around one million tourists come to Inverness every year and we could increase those figures, if we could offer more attractions and keep visitors here longer.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing added, “I’ve heard many suggestions and underlying them all is the message that the castle is the jewel in the city’s crown.”

“It’s a building which has the potential to be a centerpiece for visitors to learn more about the city and showcase the Highlands as a tourist destination.”