Heartland - Petra's Scotland pages

Inverlochy Castle

(click on images for enlargements)

Inverlochy Castle sits on the banks of the river Lochy, about 2 km from Fort William at the Southern end of the Great Glen, near the point that the river Lochy runs into Loch Linnhe.

Inverlochy Castle
It is one of the oldest stone castles in Scotland, built about 1280 by the Comyns of Badenoch, one of the strongest and wealthiest families in Scotland.

Although ruined, the castle is surprisingly complete with thirty foot high curtain walls.


Inverlochy Castle was built as a square courtyard, roughly 30 m across, with round corner towers. The curtain wall stood almost 10 m high and is clearly defensive, with no windows or openings except the two opposing gates, the seagate and a strong south gate, each defended by a portcullis and barred door. The south gate also appears to have had an internal guardhouse.


Its ruined condition reveals that it was built of an assortment of stone, some of which had been rounded by fluvial transport.
Inverlochy Castle
Inverlochy Castle

In the early 1300's Inverlochy Castle passed to Robert the Bruce and was the location for two major battles, one in 1431 when Donald Balloch and Alasdair Carrach led MacDonalds to victory over the Stewarts. Later in the Covenanting/Civil wars , the Marquis of Montrose defeated the Covenanting Army of the Earl of Argyll in 1645.

Inverlochy Castle
Inverlochy Castle

Today the castle is in the care of Historic Scotland and is open to public access.

A new "castle" was built nearby by the 1st Lord Abinger in 1863, which is used as a hotel.


Comyn's Tower:

(the following description corresponds to the Historic Scotland board right in front of the tower and the official leaflet)

Inverlochy Castle The tower at the north-west angle is called Comyn's Tower.

It is the largest of the four towers and it served as the lord’s residence. It was built in the most easily defended part of the castle, by the river.

The Comyns were among the most important families in Scotland. During the 13th century their lands stretched from almost one side of the country to the other.

The branch of the Comyn family who built Inverlochy Castle were the Red Comyns. They and their cousins the Black Comyns strongly supported John Balliol’s claim to the throne and were strident opponents of Robert Bruce (who killed John Comyn at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306). Bruce defeated the Comyns in battle at Inverurie in May 1308 and granted Inverlochy to his supporters, the MacDonalds. Thereafter the Comyns virtually disappear from the history book.

The tower itself:

The lord’s hall was on the first floor, with his private chamber above. Administrative decisions were taken here and important visitors were entertained. Comyn would have furnished his private hall sumptuously, with a “high table”, comfortable seating (possibly a chair of estate for himself), benches and tables, with hangings and cushions adding colour and an element of warmth to the room, Unusually, there is no obvious chimney or fireplace within the hall so it may have been heated by braziers (= an upright standing or hanging metal bowl used for holding burning coal for a source of light or heat).

Stairs in the thickness of the wall led up to the lord’s chamber. This room, furnished with a bed and perhaps a chair and small table, and chests for storing linen, clothes and other possessions, would have provided a valued personal space in what was a very public life. John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, died at Inverlochy in 1300, perhaps in this chamber.

The great hall, probably a timber building in the courtyard, served as the main living room of the lord’s family and household.

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