Following the 1746 defeat at Culloden of Bonnie Prince Charlie, George II created the ultimate defence against further Jacobite unrest. The result, Fort George, is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe.
Its garrison buildings, artillery defences bristling with cannon, and superb collection of arms – including bayoneted muskets, pikes, swords and ammunition pouches – provide a fascinating insight into 18th century military life.
Positioned strategically on a promontory jutting into the Moray Firth, Fort George was intended as an impregnable army base – designed on a monumental scale using sophisticated defence standards. Today, it would cost nearly £1 billion. Within almost a mile of boundary walls was accommodation for a governor, officers, artillery detachment, and a 1600-strong infantry garrison. It also housed a magazine for 2,500 gunpowder barrels, ordnance and provision stores, a brewhouse and chapel.
When the fortress was completed in 1769, the Highlands were peaceful but it was maintained in readiness for action that never came, and has remained virtually unaltered. Visitors today can see historic barrack rooms which are a time capsule of the domestic life of the Scottish soldier.
Fort George is the only ancient monument in Scotland still functioning as intended – a working army barracks - but still welcoming visitors. A gift shop and café (seasonal) are among the attractions. The Regimental Museum of the Highlanders is found at the property (see plan your visit for opening times), while dolphins can often be seen from the ramparts. There is also a summer events programme.
- The complex array of artillery fortifications on the landward side – the best in the British Isles.
- The regimental museum of the 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.
1 April - 30 September, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
1 October - 31 March, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm