Fort George – Ardersier

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Mon, 2009-12-28

One of the things that struck you about Fort George was how clean and tidy it is. What seems like vast stretches of lovely green lawn dotted with cannon seemed to stretch away into the distance.

The fort felt like a Tardis, once you were inside you felt like you could run forever and not reach the the end! So, saying, don’t let children run, there are deep drops into trenches all over the fort.

This is an excellent example of a military fort dating from the 1700’s and I would recommend that if you get the chance, that you do visit. The fort is run by Historic Scotland and there is a visitor centre where you purchase tickets for the fort.

There are various facilities available such as an Induction Loop (AFILS) for the benefit of Hearing Aid users. The shop/visitor centre accepts Euros and if you are a Friend of Historic Scotland then entry is free and you will have a 20% discount on all purchases from the shop. There are 2 excellent books available to buy from the shop. One for children (£1) and a very good glossy, providing full details of the history of the fort. (£2.50).

There is a Dolphin watch telescope as the water in this area is renowned for its Dolphins. If you walk right up to the end of the Fort you can look out onto the Moray Firth and if you are really lucky you might see the dolphins. There is a charge for using this equipment. The fort also offers a history of the fort on screen, a museum and many other interesting places to visit. There are many attractions in the fort.

It should be remembered that this is also a working military camp, and as such, some areas are off-limits to the general public. These areas are very clearly marked and easy to spot. When you visit, you will see many soldiers going about their daily work and this is quite normal. There is an audio-visual presentation given in the casemate which is near to the camp cinema. There is a reconstruction of barrack rooms in different periods, and a display of muskets and pikes. The Regimental Museum of the Queen’s Own Highlanders features uniforms, medals and pictures.

The bastioned defences with all their outworks are still intact and offer panoramic views over the Moray Firth and surrounding area. The original buildings are largely intact. The barracks house an exhibition of army life in the century following the building of the fort: and the artillery and staff blocks are home to the Regimental Museum of the Queen’s Own Highlanders. In the grand magazine is the Seafield Collection of arms and military equipment.

Almost a mile around, Fort George encloses an area of 42 acres (Edinburgh Castle esplanade would fit into its parade ground). Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Fort George today is just how little it has changed since its completion in 1769. What remains today is, with little alteration, what Skinner planned. And given this, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Fort is just how modern it seems as you walk around. Despite taking 21 years to complete and costing nearly £1 billion at today’s prices, Fort George never saw a shot fired in anger.

Features

  • The complex array of artillery fortifications on the landward side – the best in the British Isles.
  • The regimental museum of the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforths & Camerons) – the spiritual home of one of Scotland’s oldest and proudest regiments.
  • The grand magazine – designed to hold 2,672 gunpowder barrels, and now housing the spectacular Seafield Collection of 18th-century arms and military equipment.
  • The historic barrack rooms – graphically recreating soldiers’ living conditions in centuries gone by.
  • The garrison chapel – designed probably by Robert Adam, whose family construction company built the fort.
  • The dog cemetery – one of only two in Scotland, the resting-place of regimental mascots and officers’ dogs.

A short history of Fort George – from the Official Souvenir Guide available at the fort

Fort George is one of the outstanding artillery fortification in Europe. It was begun by the British Government soon after the 1745-6 Jacobite Rising to hinder any more armed threats to the Hanoverian dynasty from the House of Stuart. When building ended in 1769 the Highlands were peaceful, but the fort has continued in use ever since as an army barracks.

Throughout its 250-year history the fort has seen remarkably little alteration or addition, either to its defences or its internal buildings. The superlative distinction of Fort George today is that there survive intact not only the bastioned rampart with all its outworks but also the whole of the interior ranges. Fort George is a perfectly preserved time-capsule of eighteenth-century military engineering at its best.

Excerpt taken from Fort George by Iain MacIvor – formally Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments. ISBN 1 903570 37 9

Admission Prices: All year Adult £6.70, Child £3.35, Concession £5.20

Last ticket sold 45 min before closing time. Some of the smaller monuments may close for a short period over lunch. Please telephone to check.

Fort George Hours: Summer: 1 April – 30 September, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

Winter: 1 October – 31 March, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm

Getting Fort George – Ardersier
You can get a bus from Inverness direct to the car park of the Fort or travel by car. You enter over the drawbridge into the reception and pay for your visit (don’t try to get in the soldiers entrance they aren’t that keen on civvies wandering in through their gate!). Once inside you can follow an audio tour or just wander around the site as you like.

Contact Fort George – Ardersier Tel 01667 460 232

Web: Click here

Image Gallery (click on the image for its actual size)

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