Inverness (/ɪnvərˈnɛs/ (listen); from the Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis [iɲɪɾʲˈniʃ], meaning "Mouth of the River Ness"; Scots: Inerness) is an ancient cathedral city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for The Highland Council[2] and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Inverness lies near two important battle sites: the 11th-century battle of Blàr nam Fèinne against Norway which took place on the Aird and the 18th century Battle of Culloden which took place on Culloden Moor.[3] It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and lies within the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) at its north-eastern extremity where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth. At the latest, a settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim (King David I) in the 12th century. The Gaelic king Mac Bethad Mac Findláich (MacBeth) whose 11th-century killing of King Duncan was immortalised in Shakespeare's largely fictionalized play Macbeth, held a castle within the city where he ruled as Mormaer of Moray and Ross.[4]


Inverness Castle looking over the River Ness
Location within Scotland
Area20.7 km2 (8.0 sq mi)
Population63,780 [1]
 Density3,081/km2 (7,980/sq mi)
Scottish Gaelic
OS grid referenceNH 666 450
 Edinburgh158 miles (254 km)
 London561 miles (903 km)
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtIV1-IV3
Dialling code01463
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament

The population of Inverness grew from 40,969 in 2001 to 46,869 in 2012. The Greater Inverness area, including Culloden and Westhill, had a population of 59,969 in 2012. In 2018, it had a population of 69,989.[5] Inverness is one of Europe's fastest growing cities,[6] with a quarter of the Highland population living in or around it,[7] and is ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city.[8] In the recent past, Inverness has experienced rapid economic growth: between 1998 and 2008, Inverness and the rest of the central Highlands showed the largest growth of average economic productivity per person in Scotland and the second greatest growth in the United Kingdom as a whole, with an increase of 86%.[9] Inverness is twinned with one German city, Augsburg, and two French towns, La Baule and Saint-Valery-en-Caux.[10]

Inverness College is the main campus for the University of the Highlands and Islands.[11] With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands' students, and 30% of those studying to degree level.[12]

In 2014, a survey by a property website described Inverness as the happiest place in Scotland and the second happiest in the UK.[13] Inverness was again found to be the happiest place in Scotland by a new study conducted in 2015.[14]


Inverness was one of the chief strongholds of the Picts, and in AD 565 was visited by St Columba with the intention of converting the Pictish king Brude, who is supposed to have resided in the vitrified fort on Craig Phadrig,[15] on the western edge of the city. A 93 oz (2.9 kg) silver chain dating to 500–800 was found just to the south of Torvean in 1983.[16] A church or a monk's cell is thought to have been established by early Celtic monks on St Michael's Mount, a mound close to the river, now the site of the Old High Church[17] and graveyard. The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III (Malcolm III) of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Mac Bethad mac Findláich (Macbeth) had, according to much later tradition, murdered Máel Coluim's father Donnchad (Duncan I), and which stood on a hill around 1 km to the north-east.

The strategic location of Inverness has led to many conflicts in the area. Reputedly there was a battle in the early 11th century between King Malcolm and Thorfinn of Norway at Blar Nam Feinne, to the southwest of the city.[18]

Inverness had four traditional fairs, including Legavrik or "Leth-Gheamhradh", meaning midwinter, and Faoilleach. William the Lion (d. 1214) granted Inverness four charters, by one of which it was created a royal burgh. Of the Dominican friary founded by Alexander III in 1233, only one pillar and a worn knight's effigy survive in a secluded graveyard near the town centre.

Medieval Inverness suffered regular raids from the Western Isles, particularly by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the 15th century. In 1187 one Domhnall Bán (Donald Ban) led islanders in a battle at Torvean against men from Inverness Castle led by the governor's son, Donnchadh Mac An Toisich (Duncan Mackintosh).[19] Both leaders were killed in the battle, Donald Ban is said to have been buried in a large cairn near the river, close to where the silver chain was found.[20] Local tradition says that the citizens fought off the Clan Donald in 1340 at the Battle of Blairnacoi on Drumderfit Hill, north of Inverness across the Beauly Firth.[21] On his way to the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, Donald of Islay harried the city, and sixteen years later James I held a parliament in the castle to which the northern chieftains were summoned, of whom three were arrested for defying the king's command. Clan Munro defeated Clan Mackintosh in 1454 at the Battle of Clachnaharry just west of the city.[22] Clan Donald and their allies stormed the castle during the Raid on Ross in 1491.

In 1562, during the progress undertaken to suppress Huntly's insurrection, Mary, Queen of Scots, was denied admittance into Inverness Castle by the governor, who belonged to the earl's faction, and whom she afterwards caused to be hanged. The Clan Munro and Clan Fraser of Lovat took the castle for her.[23] The house in which she lived meanwhile stood in Bridge Street until the 1970s, when it was demolished to make way for the second Bridge Street development.

Beyond the then northern limits of the town, Oliver Cromwell built a citadel capable of accommodating 1,000 men, but with the exception of a portion of the ramparts it was demolished at the Restoration. The only surviving modern remnant is a clock tower.

Inverness played a role in the Jacobite rising of 1689. In early May, it was besieged by a contingent of Jacobites led by MacDonell of Keppoch. The town was actually rescued by Viscount Dundee, the overall Jacobite commander, when he arrived with the main Jacobite army, although he required Inverness to profess loyalty to King James VII.[24]

In 1715 the Jacobites occupied the royal fortress as a barracks. In 1727 the government built the first Fort George here, but in 1746 it surrendered to the Jacobites and they blew it up.[25] Culloden Moor lies nearby, and was the site of the Battle of Culloden in 1746, which ended the Jacobite rising of 1745–46.

The Rose Street drill hall was completed in around 1908.[26]

On 7 September 1921, the first British Cabinet meeting to be held outside London took place in the Town House, when David Lloyd George, on holiday in Gairloch, called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Ireland. The Inverness Formula composed at this meeting was the basis of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.


Inverness and its immediate hinterland have a large number of originally Gaelic place names, as the area was solidly Gaelic-speaking until the late 19th century.[27]

Placename Original Gaelic Meaning
Abertarff Obar Thairbh Mouth of the Bull River
Aldourie Allt Dobhraig River of the Water
Allanfearn An t-Àilean Feàrna The Alder Meadow
Ardconnel Àird a' Choin Ghil High Place of the White Dog
Aultnaskiach Allt na Sgitheach The Hawthorn River
Ballifeary Baile na Faire The Guard's Farm
Balloan Baile an Lòin Meadow Town
Balloch Baile an Locha Township near the loch
Balmore Baile Mòr The Big Township
Balnafettack Baile nam Feadag Farm of the Plovers
Balvonie Bhaile a' Mhonaidh Village on the hill
Balvraid Baile a' Bhràghaid Township of the Brae
Beauly Firth Poll an Ròid Bay of the Cross
Ben Wyvis Beinn Uais Mount Terror
Bogbain Bog Ban The White Marsh
Bunchrew Bun Chraoibh Foot of the Tree
Carnarc Càrn Airc The Sea Stone
Castle Heather Caisteal Leathoir Castle on the Slope
Charleston Baile Theàrlaich Tearlach's Town
Clachnaharry Clach na h-Aithrigh Stone of Repentance
Craggie Cragaidh Rocky Place
Craig Dunain Creag Dùn Eun Rocky Bird Hill
Croftnacreich Croit na Chrithich The Aspen Hut
Crown Crùn Crown
Croy Chrothaigh Hard Place
Culcabock Cùil na Càbaig Back of the Tillage Land
Culduthel Cuil Daothail Quiet northern spot
Culloden Cùil Lodair Nook of the Marsh
Dalcross Dealgros Prickle Point
Dalneigh Dail an Eich Field of the Horse
Dalmagarry Dail Mac Gearraidh The Meadow of Garry's son
Dell Dail MhicEachainn MacEachen's Meadow
Diriebught Tìr nam Bochd Land of the Poor
Dochfour Dabhach Phùir Davoch of Pasture Land
Dochgarroch Dabhach Gairbheach Rough Davoch
Dores Dubhras Black Wood
Drumdevan Druim Dìomhain The Idle Ridge
Drummond An Druimein The Ridge
Drumossie Druim Athaisidh Ridge of the Great Meadow
Essich Easaich Place of the Stream
Inshes Na h-Innseagan The Meadows
Inverness Inbhir Nis Mouth of the River Ness
Kessock Ceasaig (Saint) Ceasaig
Kilmuir Cille Mhoire Mary's Church
Kilvean Cill Bheathain Church of St.Bain
Kinmylies Ceann a' Mhìlidh The Warrior's Head
Lairgmore Luirg Mór Big slope
Leachkin Leacainn Broad Hillside
Loch Ness Loch Nis Headlands Lake
Lochardil Loch Àrdail The Church Lake
Longman Long Mìn Field of the Ship / Ship Flat
Merkinch Marc Innis The Horse Meadow
Millburn Allt a'Mhuilinn The Mill River
Muckovie Mucamhaigh The Pig Field
Raigmore Rathaig Mhòir Big Fort
Resaurie Ruigh Samhraidh Summer Slope
Scaniport Sganaphort Ferry by the Crack
Scorguie Sgurr Gaoithe The Windy Hill
Slackbuie An Slag Buidhe The Yellow Hollow
Smithton Baile a' Ghobhainn Smiths' Town
Tomatin Tom Aitinn Hill of the Juniper
Tomnahurich Tom na h-Iubhraich Hill of the Yew Trees
Torvean Tòrr Bheathain MacBean's Hill

Several springs which were traditionally thought to have healing qualities exist around Inverness. Fuaran Dearg, which translates as the "Red Spring", is a chalybeate spring located near Dochgarroch. Fuaran a' Chladaich ("The Spring on the Beach") near Bunchrew was once accessed by a causeway from the shore. Although submerged at high tide it continues to bubble and was traditionally known for treating cholera. Fuaran Allt an Ionnlaid ("Well of the Washing Burn") at Clachnaharry, where the Marquis of Montrose was allowed to drink while on his way from his capture in Sutherland to his execution in Edinburgh, was known for treating skin conditions. Also at Clachnaharry, Fuaran Priseag ("The Precious Well") was said to have been blessed by Saint Kessock and could treat weak and sore eyes, as well as expelling evil and shielding curses if a silver coin was offered. Tobar na h-Oige ("Well of the Young") is located near Culloden and was known for curing all ailments. Fuaran a' Chragan Bhreag ("Well of the Speckled Rock") is located near Craig Dundain and Fuaran na Capaich ("The Keppoch Well") is located near Culloden.[28]

Although a Gaelic name itself, Craig Phadraig is alternatively known as Làrach an Taigh Mhóir, or "the place of the Great house".[29] "Several Gaelic place names are now largely obsolete due to the feature being removed or forgotten. Drochaid an Easain Duibh ("Bridge by the Small Dark Waterfall"), referred to in the tale Aonghas Mòr Thom na h-Iubhraich agus na Sìthichean ("Great Angus of Tomnahurich and the Fairies") has not yet been located within Inverness and Slag nam Mèirleach (meaning "Robbers' hollow"), adjacent to Dores Road in Holm is no longer in use. Until the late 19th century, four mussel beds existed on the delta mouth of the River Ness: Scalp Phàdraig Mhòir ("Scalp of Great Patrick"), Rònach ("Place of the Seals"), Cridhe an Uisge ("The Water Heart") and Scalp nan Caorach ("Scalp of the Sheep") – these mussel beds were all removed to allow better access for fishing boats and ships.[30]

Allt Muineach (The Thicket River) now runs underground between Culcabock Roundabout and Millburn Roundabout. An Loch Gorm (The Turquoise Loch), a small sea loch which was situated beside Morrisons supermarket, was filled in during the 19th century and lives on only in the name of Lochgorm Warehouse. Abban Street stems from the word àban, a word of local Gaelic dialect meaning a small channel of water.

Many prominent points around Inverness retain fully Gaelic names.

  • Beinn Bhuidhe Bheag – "Little Yellow Hill"
  • Beinn Uan – "Lamb Hill"
  • Cnoc na Mòine – "The Peat Hill"
  • Cnoc na Gaoithe – "The Hill of the Wind"
  • Cnoc an t-Seòmair – "The Hill of the Room"
  • Creag Liath – "Grey Crag"
  • Creag nan Sidhean – "The Crag of the Fairies"
  • Doire Mhòr – "Great Oakwood"
  • Carn a' Bhodaich – "The Old Man's Cairn"
  • Meall Mòr – "Great Hill"

In the colonial period, a Gaelic speaking settlement named New Inverness was established in McIntosh County, Georgia, by settlers from in and around Inverness. The name was also given by expatriates to settlements in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Montana, Florida, Illinois, and California. The name Inverness is also given to a feature on Miranda, a moon of the planet Uranus, as well as a 2637 m tall mountain in British Columbia, Canada.[31] Inverness is also known by its nicknames Inversnecky or The Sneck, with its inhabitants traditionally known as Clann Na Cloiche ("Children of the Stone" in Gaelic) owing to the importance of the Clach Na Cudainn stone in the city's history.


Year Greater Inverness Inverness
2016 63,220[32]
2012 59,910[5] 46,870[5]
2010 57,960[33] 45,050[34]
2008 56,660[35] 44,220[36]
2006 54,070[37] 42,400[38]
2004 52,530[39] 40,880[40]
2003 51,610[41] 40,470[42]
2001 46,944[43] 40,949[43]
1991 44,903[43] 40,918[43]
1981 43,246 40,011
1971 34,839
1961 29,774
1951 28,107
1881 17,365
1871 14,469
1861 12,509
1841 9,663
1831 14,324
1821 12,264
1811 10,750
1801 8,732
1791 7,930

The National Records of Scotland define Inverness as the urban area west of the A9. To produce a greater Inverness figure including the villages of Balloch, Culloden, Smithton, and Westhill, it is necessary to aggregate NRS figures for each locality.[5]


Inverness is situated at the mouth of the River Ness (which flows from nearby Loch Ness) and at the south-western extremity of the Moray Firth. The city lies at the end of the Great Glen with Loch Ness, Loch Ashie and Loch Duntelchaig to the west. Inverness's Caledonian Canal also runs through the Great Glen, connecting Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy.

The Ness Islands, a publicly owned park, consists of two wooded islands connected by footbridges and has been used as a place of recreation since the 1840s.[44] Craig Phadraig, once an ancient Gaelic and Pictish hillfort, is a 240 m (790 ft)[45] hill which offers hikes on a clear pathway through the wooded terrain.

Inverness lies on the Great Glen Fault. There are minor earthquakes, usually unnoticed by locals, about every 3 years. The last earthquake to affect Inverness was in 1934.[46]



Like most of the United Kingdom, Inverness has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb).[47] Inverness sees around 69 days of falling snow per year, and the record accumulation of snow was 36 cm (14 in) in January 2010. The climate here is much colder than in more southerly parts of Britain. The highest temperature recorded was 29.7 °C (85.5 °F) in July 2006 and June 2018, and the lowest temperature recorded was −18.7 °C (−1.7 °F) in January 2010. Typically, the warmest day of the year rises to around 25 °C (77 °F) and the coldest night falls to around −11 °C (12 °F).[48] The climate in this area is characterised by small differences between high and low temperatures, as well as adequate rainfall year-round.

Climate data for Inverness (13 m above sea level, averages 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.9
Average high °C (°F) 6.9
Average low °C (°F) 1.1
Record low °C (°F) −18.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 76.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 14 11 14 9 11 11 10 12 12 13 13 13 143
Mean monthly sunshine hours 38.8 72.7 104.5 135.5 176.8 143.1 140.0 133.9 113.2 84.2 49.7 27.8 1,220.2
Source: MetOffice[49]


Raigmore Hospital is the main hospital in Inverness and the entire Highland region.[50] The present hospital opened in 1970, replacing wartime wards dating from 1941.[51]

Raigmore is also a teaching hospital catering for both the Universities of Aberdeen and Stirling. A new Centre for Health Science (CfHS) is located behind the hospital. This is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Executive and Johnson & Johnson. Phase I of this opened in early 2007, with phase II and phase III housing The Diabetes Institute opening in 2009. The University of Stirling moved its nursing and midwifery teaching operations from Raigmore Hospital to the CfHS. The University of the Highlands and Islands also has strong links with the centre through its Faculty of Health.


Most of the traditional industries such as distilling have been replaced by high-tech businesses, such as the design and manufacture of diabetes diagnostic kits. Highlands and Islands Enterprise has principally funded the Centre for Health Science to attract more businesses in the medical and medical devices business to the area.[52] Inverness is home to Scottish Natural Heritage following that body's relocation from Edinburgh under the auspices of the Scottish Government's decentralisation strategy. SNH provides a large number of jobs in the area.

Inverness City Centre lies on the east bank of the river and is linked to the west side of the town by three road bridges Ness Bridge, Friars Bridge and the Black (or Waterloo) Bridge and by one of the town's suspension foot bridges, the Greig Street Bridge.[53] The traditional city centre was a triangle bounded by High Street, Church Street and Academy Street, within which Union Street and Queensgate are cross streets parallel to High Street. Between Union Street and Queensgate is the Victorian Market, which contains a large number of small shops.[54] The main Inverness railway station is almost directly opposite the Academy Street entrance to the Market. From the 1970s, the Eastgate Shopping Centre was developed to the east of High Street, with a substantial extension being completed in 2003.


The city has a number of different education providers. Inverness is catered for by about a dozen primary schools including Inverness Gaelic Primary School, a specialised institution situated at Slackbuie. There are 5 secondary schools: Inverness High School, Inverness Royal Academy, Charleston Academy, Millburn Academy and Culloden Academy. Additionally there is Inverness College which offers further and higher education courses to those of school leaving age and above. The City also has a new Centre for Health Sciences adjacent to Raigmore Hospital.

University of the Highlands and Islands

Inverness College is situated in the city and is a part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, a federation of 15 colleges and research institutions in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland delivering higher education.

Plans for a new Business R&D and academic campus have been in place for some time with the college at its current Longman site relocation to a new development at the new Inverness Campus at Beechwood Farm.

The planning application for phase 1 of a new campus, lodged by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) was passed by The Highland Council in May 2010. The original outline planning application for the entire landholding submitted early 2009 remains live. This application forms a vision for the development over the next thirty years. The application includes:

  • Academic buildings – up to 70,480 m2
  • Business and incubation units – up to 49,500 m2
  • Indoor sports complex – up to 9,000 m2
  • Student and other short term residences – 44,950 m2
  • Associated landscape, open space, outdoor recreation, infrastructure and services necessary to support the development phases
  • Up to 200 residential units
  • A social enterprise-run hotel[55][56]

The 80-hectare (200-acre) campus at Beechwood, just off the A9 south of Inverness, is considered to be one of the most important developments for the region over the next 20 years. The principal of UHI, James Fraser, said: "This is a flagship development which will provide Inverness with a university campus and vibrant student life. It will have a major impact on the city and on the Highlands and Islands. UHI is a partnership of colleges and research centres throughout the region, and the development of any one partner brings strength to the whole institution."[57]

It is estimated that the new campus would contribute more than £50m to the economy of the Highlands because it could attract innovative commercial businesses interested in research and development, while increasing the number of students who study within the city by around 3,000.[58]


Inverness is linked to the Black Isle across the Moray Firth by the Kessock Bridge. It has a railway station[59] with Abellio ScotRail services to Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Thurso, Wick and Kyle of Lochalsh. Inverness is connected to London Euston by the Caledonian Sleeper, which departs six times a week and by the London North Eastern Railway operated Highland Chieftain to London King's Cross which runs daily.

Three trunk roads link Inverness with the rest of Scotland: the A9 north to Thurso and Wick, as well as south to Perth and the Central Belt, A82 to Glasgow via Fort William and A96 to Elgin and Aberdeen.

Inverness Bus Station

Inverness bus station is situated at Farraline Park and can be accessed from Academy Street and Margaret Street. The bus station is managed by The Highland Council and is a short walk away from the Inverness railway station and the main shopping area.

Permission was granted to demolish the existing bus station in 2000. It was then replaced with a new terminal building in the early 2000s.

The bus station's main operators include Stagecoach in Inverness and Stagecoach in Lochaber. Buses operate from the bus station around the town of Inverness and to Inverness Airport and to places as far afield as Fort William, Ullapool, Thurso and Aberdeen.

Megabus and Scottish Citylink operate a regular coach service to the Scotland's capital Edinburgh with connections to Glasgow at Perth.

National Express Coaches operate an overnight service from Inverness to London (Victoria) via Edinburgh taking 15 hours 5 minutes.[60]

Stagecoach Highlands is the division of the Stagecoach Group which covers most of the former Rapson Group operations after the take-over by Stagecoach. It covers the following depots of the Stagecoach Group.

  • Fort William (Ardgour Road, Caol) (t/a Stagecoach in Lochaber)
  • Kirkwall (Scott's Road Hatston Industrial Estate) (t/a Stagecoach in Orkney)
  • Portree (Park Road) (t/a Stagecoach in Skye)
  • Thurso (Janet Street) (t/a Stagecoach in Caithness)

There are various outstations over the division area due to the rural nature of the area covered.

The operation from Aviemore depot comes under the East Scotland division as it trades as Stagecoach in Inverness.

Plans are in place to convert the A96 between Inverness and Nairn to a dual carriageway and to construct a southern bypass that would link the A9, A82 and A96 together involving crossings of the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness in the Torvean area, southwest of the town.[61]

The bypass, known as the Inverness Trunk Road Link (TRL), is aimed at resolving Inverness's transport problems and has been split into two separate projects, the east and west sections. The east section will bypass Inshes Roundabout, a notorious traffic bottleneck, using a new road linking the existing Southern Distributor with the A9 and the A96, both via grade separated interchanges. This proposed new link road would bypass Inshes roundabout, as stated before, and separate strategic traffic from local traffic as well as accommodating proposals for new development at the West Seafield Retail and Business Park and also a new UHI campus.

At the west end, two options for crossing the river and canal were developed. One involving a high level vertical opening bridge which will allow the majority of canal traffic to pass under without the need for opening. The other involved a bridge over the river and an aqueduct under the canal. Both of these designs are technically complex and were considered in detail along by the key stakeholders involved in the project. Ultimately it was decided that a bridge over the river and a tunnel under the canal were the best option, although more expensive.[62]

In late 2008 the controversial decision by the Scottish Government not to include the full Inverness bypass in its transport plan for the next 20 years was made. The government's Strategic Transport Projects Review did include the eastern section of the route, which will see the A9 at Inshes linked to the A96.

But the absence of the TRL's western section, which would include a permanent crossing over the Caledonian Canal and River Ness, sparked dismay among several Highland councillors and business leaders in Inverness who feel the bypass is vital for the city's future economic growth.[63]

Upgrading of the A9 South

In late 2008 the Scottish Government's transport plan for the next 20 years was announced. It brings forward planned improvements to the A9 in an attempt to stimulate the economy and protect jobs.

Work costing a total of £8.5 million was undertaken at Moy, Carrbridge and Bankfoot. Northbound overtaking lanes were created and the carriageway was reconstructed at both Moy and Carrbridge. Junction improvements were also made at Moy.

In November 2011 the Scottish Government announced that it will upgrade the entire road from Perth to Inverness to dual carriageway. Work on this project is expected to start in 2015 is scheduled to be completed in 2025, at a cost of £3 billion.[64]

In July 2013, the Scottish Government announced a plan to install average speed cameras on the A9 between Perth and Inverness. This has been undertaken with an aim to reduce accidents and fatalities on the road, and will be the second permanent average speed camera scheme in Scotland.[65]

Port of Inverness

The Port of Inverness is located at the mouth of the River Ness. It has four quays and receives over 300 vessels a year.

Inverness Airport

Inverness Airport[66] is located 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of the city and has scheduled flights to airports across the UK including London, Manchester, Belfast and the islands to the north and west of Scotland, as well as a number of flights to Europe. Flybe operate flights to Belfast, Birmingham and a seasonal service to Jersey. Loganair operate Saab 340 and Saab 2000 aircraft on routes to Benbecula, Dublin, Kirkwall, Stornoway and Sumburgh. Flybmi operates an Embraer regional jet on services to Bergen and Manchester on behalf of Loganair. EasyJet operate Airbus aircraft to London Gatwick three times per day, Luton twice a day and Bristol. British Airways operates a daily service to London Heathrow, and KLM operate a daily service to Amsterdam.


Local government

Inverness was an autonomous royal burgh, and county town for the county of Inverness (also known as Inverness-shire) until 1975, when local government counties and burghs were abolished, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, in favour of two-tier regions and districts and unitary islands council areas. The royal burgh was then absorbed into a new district of Inverness, which was one of eight districts within The Highland Council region. The new district combined in one area the royal burgh, the Inverness district of the county and the Aird district of the county. The rest of the county was divided between other new districts within the Highland region and the Western Isles. Therefore, although much larger than the royal burgh, the new Inverness district was much smaller than the county.

In 1996, under the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994,[67] the districts were abolished and the region became a unitary council area. The new unitary The Highland Council, however, adopted the areas of the former districts as council management areas, and created area committees to represent each. The Inverness committee represented 23 out of the 80 Highland Council wards, with each ward electing one councillor by the first past the post system of election. Management area and committee area boundaries later became disconnected as a result of changes to ward boundaries in 1999. Ward boundaries changed again in 2007, and the council management areas were replaced with three new corporate management areas.

Ward boundary changes in 2007, under the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004,[68] created 22 new Highland Council wards, each electing three or four councillors by the single transferable vote system of election, a system designed to produce a form of proportional representation. The total number of councillors remaining the same. Also, the Inverness management area was merged into the new Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey corporate management area, covering nine of the new wards and electing 34 of the 80 councillors. As well as the Inverness area, the new area includes the former Nairn management area and the former Badenoch and Strathspey management area. The corporate area name is also that of a constituency, but boundaries are different.

Within the corporate area there is a city management area covering seven of the nine wards, the Aird and Loch Ness ward, the Culloden and Ardersier ward, the Inverness Central ward, the Inverness Millburn ward, the Inverness Ness-side ward, the Inverness South ward and the Inverness West ward. The Nairn and Cawdor ward and the Badenoch and Strathspey ward complete the corporate area. Wards in the city management area are to be represented on a city committee as well as corporate area committees.

Distribution of Highland Council seats by party in Inverness
Party Seats
  Scottish National Party 7                                    
  Independent 6                                    
  Conservative Party 4                                    
  Liberal Democrats 4                                    
  Labour Party 2                                  

City status

In 2000, city status was granted to the Town of Inverness, and letters patent were taken into the possession of the Highland Council by the convener of the Inverness area committee.[69][70] These letters patent, which were sealed in March 2000 and are held by Inverness Museum and Art Gallery,[71] create a city of Inverness, but do not refer to anywhere with defined boundaries, except that Town of Inverness may be taken as a reference to the burgh of Inverness. As a local government area the burgh was abolished 26 years earlier, in 1975, and so was the county of Inverness for which the burgh was the county town. Nor do they refer to the former district or to the royal burgh.

The Highland area was created as a two-tier local government region in 1975, and became a unitary local government area in 1996. The region consisted of eight districts, of which one was called Inverness. The districts were all merged into the unitary area. As the new local government authority, the Highland Council then adopted the areas of the districts as council management areas. The management areas were abolished in 2007, in favour of three new corporate management areas. The council has defined a large part of the Inverness, Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey corporate area as the Inverness city management area.[72] This council-defined city area includes Loch Ness and numerous towns and villages apart from the former burgh of Inverness.

In January 2008 a petition to matriculate armorial bearings for the City of Inverness was refused by Lord Lyon King of Arms on the grounds that there is no legal persona to which arms can be granted.[73]

Parliamentary representation

There are three existing parliamentary constituencies with Inverness as an element in their names:

These existing constituencies are effectively subdivisions of the Highland council area, but boundaries for Westminster elections are now very different from those for Holyrood elections. The Holyrood constituencies are also subdivisions of the Highlands and Islands electoral region.

Historically there have been six Westminster constituencies:

Inverness Burghs was a district of burghs constituency, covering the parliamentary burghs of Inverness, Fortrose, Forres and Nairn. Inverness-shire covered, at least nominally, the county of Inverness minus the Inverness parliamentary burgh. As created in 1918, Inverness covered the county minus Outer Hebridean areas, which were merged into the Western Isles constituency. The Inverness constituency included the former parliamentary burgh of Inverness. As created in 1983, Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber was one of three constituencies covering the Highland region, which had been created in 1975. As first used in 1997, the Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, and Ross, Skye and Inverness West constituencies were effectively two of three constituencies covering the Highland unitary council area, which had been created in 1996.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Culture and sports

Inverness is an important centre for bagpipe players and lovers, since every September the city hosts the Northern Meeting. The Inverness cape, a garment worn in the rain by pipers the world over, is not necessarily made in Inverness.

Another major event in calendar is the annual City of Inverness Highland Games. The event can trace its roots back to one of the first Highland Games staged in the modern era; the True Highland Games which was staged in 1822 by members of the Northern Meeting Society. In 1864 the Northern Meeting Society built the world's first Highland Games stadium, the Northern Meeting Park. The last Northern Meeting Highland Games was staged in 1938 and following the second world war, responsibility for the organisation of the annual event passed to the Town Council who moved the event to Bught Park in 1948. In 2006 Inverness hosted Scotland's biggest ever Highland Games over two days in July, featuring the Masters' World Championships, the showcase event for heavies aged over 40 years. The first year that the Masters' World Championships had been held outside the United States was 2006, and it attracted many top heavies from around the world to the Inverness area. The Masters World Championships returned in 2009 when it was staged as part of the Homecoming celebrations. In 2010, the City of Inverness Highland Games returned to Northern Meeting Park where it remains to this day.

The main theatre in Inverness is called Eden Court Theatre. Actress Karen Gillan is the ambassador for Theatre Art Education. Inverness has gained notoriety as well for being featured in the "Outlander" novel series by author Diana Gabaldon.

Inverness is home to two summer music festivals, Rockness and the Tartan Heart Festival, that bring a variety of music to the town.

BFBS Radio broadcasts on 87.7FM as part of its UK Bases network.

The city is home to four football clubs. Inverness Caledonian Thistle was formed in 1994 from the merger of two Highland League clubs, Caledonian and Inverness Thistle. "Caley Thistle" of the Scottish Championship plays at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium. The town's second football club, Clachnacuddin, plays in the Highland League. Inverness Citadel was another popular side which became defunct, but had its name revived. The third football side is Inverness City who play in the North Region Juniors and were formed in 2006, but folded in 2019. Inverness Athletic became the fourth, joining the North Caledonian Football League in 2016.

Highland RFC is the local rugby union club that competes regularly in the Tennants National League 2. It has enjoyed recent promotions in the past several years and continues to be a hub for rugby in the North of Scotland.

Highland HC is the local hockey team, it consists of two men's teams, two ladies teams and a junior team.[76] with both Men's & Ladies' 1st teams in Scottish National Division 2. The Men's 1st team successfully gained promotion from Scottish National Division 3 in 2011.[77]

Inverness Blitz is a charity that promotes the development of American football in Inverness and the surrounding area.[78] Bught Park, located in the centre of Inverness is the finishing point of the annual Loch Ness Marathon and home of Inverness Shinty Club.

In 2011, Inverness hosted professional golf with the Scottish Open on the European Tour, played at Castle Stuart the week before The Open Championship.

Cricket is also played in Inverness, with both Highland CC and Northern Counties playing in the North of Scotland Cricket Association League and 7 welfare league teams playing midweek cricket at Fraser Park. Both teams have been very successful over the years.

Stock car racing was staged in Inverness circa 1973.

Inverness has a mixed Basketball Team, the Inverness Giants, who play exhibition games against local teams throughout the North and Islands

Inverness Botanic Gardens is located in Bught Park a few minutes walk from the west bank of the River Ness near to the Ness Islands.[79]

In 2007, the city hosted Highland 2007, a celebration of the culture of the Highlands, and will also host the World Highland Games Heavy Championships (21 & 22 July) and European Pipe Band Championships (28 July).[80] 2008 saw the first Hi-Ex (Highlands International Comics Expo), held at the Eden Court Theatre.[81][82]

Inverness is the location of Macbeth's castle in Shakespeare's play.

Inverness Library is located in Farraline Park, housed in what was originally the Bell's school, designed by William Robertson in the Greek Revival style. The school was built with help from a £10,000 donation from Dr Andrew Bell in 1837.[83]

Scottish Gaelic in Inverness

Historically, Inverness had a solidly Scottish Gaelic speaking population, with the majority of the population having Gaelic as their first language. From approximately the end of the 19th century, following the 1872 Education Act, Inverness suffered a decline in the number of Gaelic speakers in line with the rest of the once Gaidhealtachd / Scottish Highlands. Despite the local dialect of Scottish Gaelic gradually falling out of use (although it continued to affect local English language dialect), the language is still spoken in other dialects and standardised forms. By the end of the 19th century, some rural areas to the south east of Inverness still had completely Gaelic speaking populations, such as Strath Dearn where almost 100% of the population were still Gaelic speaking.

1677: Inverness was described as "overwhelmingly" Gaelic speaking by the traveller Thomas Kirk.

1704: Close to 100% of the population was fluent in Gaelic with over 75% of the population only able to speak Gaelic.[84] Edward Lhuyd published major work on Inverness Gaelic and after collecting data from between 1699 and 1700, his findings showed a distinct dialect in the area.[85] The clear dialect of Inverness Gaelic was held in high regard by speakers of other forms, such as those from Lewis, Sutherland and Ross.[86] Gaelic remained the principal language of Invernessians for the rest of the 18th century, despite growing pressure from outwith the Highlands in both political and social contexts.

1798: Thomas Garnett (Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in the Royal Institution of Great Britain) observed that Inverness had become largely bilingual with Invernessians using Gaelic as the language of the home but English as the language of foreign trade – however, the older generation at the time generally only had the Gaelic. Speaking of those in the countryside immediately surrounding Inverness, Garnett stated that although in Inverness both Gaelic and English "are spoken promiscuously...the language of the country people is Gaelic."

1828: John Wood praised the standard of both the Gaelic and English spoken in Inverness stating that both languages were spoken with "utmost purity." He noted that children would casually flit between the two languages while playing, asking questions in Gaelic while receiving answers in English and vice versa.

1882: The Celtic Magazine, published in Inverness, complained that enumerators of the 1881 census who assessed whether families were Gaelic speaking, English speaking or both, had supplied false information. The magazine wrote that "whole families .... scarcely any member of whom can express the commonest idea intelligently in English – who are in every sense Gaelic-speaking people only – were returned by the enumerators as English-speaking."

1901: Inhabitants of Inverness voiced regret at the very swift decay of the native language in the short space of twenty years following a complete absence of bilingual education and disregard for Gaelic.[87]

For its size, Inverness today still has a relatively high density of Gaelic speakers and a relatively lively Gaelic scene, making it one of the centres of the Scottish Gaelic Renaissance. According to the 2011 census, 4.8% of residents of greater Inverness over age 3 speak Gaelic compared to 1.1% nationally. At 2,800 Gaelic speakers, only Greater Glasgow and Edinburgh have a higher absolute total.[88] The number of Gaelic speakers has fluctuated over the last century. In 1881, the census reported 4,047 Gaelic speakers in Inverness (23.3% of the population) which by 1891 had risen to 6,356 speakers (30.47%).[89] By 1901 this figure had dropped to 5,072 speakers (23.88%) of the population, from which it continued to drop to present day numbers through emigration and language shift.[89] Scottish Gaelic is slowly re-appearing in the linguistic landscape, appearing on some signs around Inverness. Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis, which opened in August 2007 offering primary school education through the medium of Gaelic, is nearing full capacity and was extended to allow for more pupils in August 2010.[90] Bòrd na Gàidhlig, an organisation responsible for supporting and promoting the use of Scottish Gaelic, has its main office in Inverness.[91] Other Gaelic related groups include the Inverness Gaelic Choir which has existed for over 70 years.[92] Inverness also hosted the Royal National Mòd in 2014, a festival celebrating Gaelic culture.[93]

Inverness has a unique accent of Scottish English. While the r's in most places in Scotland are tapped or rolled, in Inverness they are not. This has contributed to some considering the accent to be more akin to those of Ireland and the English West Country than those of Scotland. However, due to the overall decay of local accents across the United Kingdom, this is less prominent today than it once was.


Important buildings in Inverness include Inverness Castle, and various churches.

The castle was built in 1835 on the site of its medieval predecessor. It is now a sheriff court.

Inverness Cathedral, dedicated to St Andrew, is a cathedral of the Scottish Episcopal Church and seat of the ordinary of the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. The cathedral has a curiously square-topped look to its spires, as funds ran out before they could be completed.

The oldest church is the Old High Church,[94] on St Michael's Mount by the riverside, a site perhaps used for worship since Celtic times. The church tower dates from mediaeval times, making it the oldest surviving building in Inverness. It is used by the Church of Scotland congregation of Old High St Stephen's, Inverness,[95] and it is the venue for the annual Kirking of the Council, which is attended by local councillors.

There is no Catholic cathedral in the area as the Diocese's cathedral (St Mary) is at Aberdeen, the seat of the Diocese of Aberdeen. The Catholic population is served by two parish churches: St Mary's, Inverness founded in 1837, is the older of the two and the first Catholic church founded in Inverness since the Reformation.[96] St Ninian's was built during the 1960s and 1970s.[97]

Inverness College is the hub campus for the UHI Millennium Institute.[98]

Porterfield Prison, officially HMP Inverness, serves the courts of the Highlands, Western Isles, Orkney Isles and Moray, providing secure custody for all remand prisoners and short-term adult prisoners, both male and female, who are segregated.[99]

Long-distance walking hub

Inverness is connected to three long-distance footpaths:


Shinty is an integral part of the Highlands and Islands. As the capital of the Highlands, Camanachd Association is based in Inverness and the city often hosts a wealth of Shinty finals such as the Camanachd Cup Final (the pinnacle of Shinty) as well as the international game of Shinty and Irish hurling. Despite Inverness Shinty Club not being particularly successful in recent years, some of the towns and villages that surround the city have been, such as Kiltarlity who are the home of Lovat Shinty Club (recent winners of the MacTavish Cup 2013) and Glen Urquhart.

Notable people


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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Inverness". Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 718–719.

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