Cromwell's Citadel

Cromwell's citadel was constructed in order to subdue the highlands. It could hold a garrison of up to one thousand men and was active for about seven years. The garrison was withdrawn after the restoration (1660) and the buildings pulled down and the site abandoned. Stone was taken from the structure to build the Ness bridge in the late 1680's and much later (ca. 1888), there was a hemp manufactury within the remains. The site is now home to a BP Oil terminal. A tower remains which has been restored at some point in the past, the road is called Cromwell Road and the area is called "Citadel". Other than this there are not any immediately apparent remains of the very substantial structure which once overlooked the river, the town and the approach to the river from the Moray Firth. A reliable local eyewitness who used to visit this site in the late 1940's describes a green area with large mounds of earth, along with the tower which is still there. The remains of the ramparts were used as an air raid shelter and allegedly, there was an underground fuel dump used for military purposes during WWII.

Construction of the fort commenced in May 1652 and was completed in 1655 at a cost of £80,000. Stone was taken from the Cathedral at Fortrose and other ecclesiastical buildings, as already mentioned this was later taken from the fort and used to build the Ness bridge.

The structure was a roughly pentagonal shape with bastions, encircled on four sides by a wide trench in which a barque could sail in and out of at high tide, the fifth side being the river bank. The walls were three storeys high with sentinel houses on each of the five corners. On the town side there was a sally-port (a gate built like an airlock) and on the north side, the side facing Kessock Bridge, was the main gate. Here there was an oak drawbridge, known as the blue bridge. The Governor was one Colonel Thomas Firth.

At this time Inverness Castle was partly in ruins and the Ness bridge was a flimsy wooden footbridge.

The existence of the fort and presence of the garrison seems to have generally been welcomed by the Invernessians. Certain supplies became more readily and cheaply available and improvements were also made to the town.

A garrison was also stationed at Inverlochy where another citadel at the head of Loch Linnhe was built in 1654. In 1690 a larger fort was built on the same site and named Fort William, after the King. To supply this garrison, Cromwell's men dragged a barque overland in late 1651 on rollers to Loch Ness, three seven-inch cables were snapped in the process. The barque was converted into a Frigate with four guns and a crew of 60 men. Later, in General Wade's time there was a six gun frigate patrolling Loch Ness, the guns of which are now in the grounds of Glenmoriston House.


CARRUTHERS, R., 1843. The Highland Notebook or Sketches and anecdotes. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black.
GORDON, SETON, 1951. Highlands of Scotland. London: Robert Hale Limited.
NOBLE, JOHN, 1902. Miscellanea Invernessiana. Stirling: Eneas MacKay.