Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Stone that Built Fort George

by Roland Spencer-Jones (NOSAS)

On the north side of Munlochy Bay there is a small sheltered and now neglected harbour, draped in trees and silting up. Behind it, linked by a track, is a huge hole in the cliffs. Flanking the harbour, like two long arms reaching to the sea, are the massive spoil heaps that are what remains of the quarry that dug into the cliff. For more than ten years, from 1748 onwards, sandstone blocks from the quarry were loaded onto boats in the harbour and taken across the Firth to a vast building project on a spit of land near Ardeseir. This is the stone that built Fort George.

Munlochy Bay Harbour, OS 1871

Munlochy Bay Harbour, OS 1871

There was an earlier Fort George, built on the site in Inverness now occupied by the Castle. It was constructed by General Wade in 1727 as part of the government’s attempt to constrain the Highlands. However, a mere two days of concerted siege ended in its surrender to Prince Charles Stuart in February 1746, and it was blown up a few days later. After Culloden it was clear that a more formidable defence against the Highlanders would be needed, capable of sustaining a garrison of 2000 men. Initial thoughts were to site near the present Inverness harbour, on the site of a previous fort built by Cromwell. However, the site at Arderseir provided more space, and no threat from bombardment from the heights of North Kessock.

Work began in 1748 under the direction of Colonel Skinner. The defences were mostly in place by 1757, and the work was finally completed by 1769, at a reputed total cost of £200,000. A colossal sum for the time.

DSC01021 Bay Quarry looking N

The Quarry in 2013.

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