The prominent role the castle has played in Inverness’s history is set to continue into its future. Ambitious plans for the development of the Castle Hill are underway that will underline the city’s role as capital of the Highlands and a geographic hub for this exceptional region.
The planned development will bring a new excitement to the heart of this historic city with a range of cultural and leisure facilities that link the historic with the contemporary, and Inverness with the area it serves.
The transformation of Inverness Castle and the Castle Hill site began in 2020, after the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service moved and the former court building was purchased by The Highland Council. This allowed the entire site to be planned as a vital part of the regeneration of Inverness city centre.
Transformation of the Castle Hill site
The first phase of development will see the castle transformed into a world-class attraction for visitors and locals. The castle’s history as a court and prison means there are many intriguing spaces and stories to explore in the building.
The refurbished castle will have areas for eating and drinking, shopping, and for learning more about the extraordinary landscape, language, and culture of the Highlands and Islands. See here for more details of how the building may look in future.
The grounds of the castle will be transformed into a fantastic outdoor space that can be enjoyed throughout the year, as well as providing a perfect location for beautiful views of the river, the outlook to Loch Ness, and Ben Wyvis to the north.
What will be in the castle?
The Highland tradition of the seannachie – the storyteller – will be prominent in the new castle with stories coming from all over the Highlands and Islands.
The transformed Inverness Castle and grounds will celebrate the Spirit of the Highlands in 100 stories – the area has so many to tell – capturing the essence of the region’s unique environment, culture and character.
The Spirit of the Highlands will look to the future too and the ways in which the Highlands and Islands can lead in areas such as green energy, community land development, and cultural growth rooted in local communities.
The innovative structure of the University of the Highlands and Islands is one of the ways the area has already shown how it can pioneer new ways of living, working and learning.
The future of the building
Part of the castle’s transformation will include creating a one storey building to link the two towers of the castle and create new opportunities to maximise the views from the west side (river-side) of the building. It also creates a wonderful, light space for visitors to the refurbished building.
The former impressive main entrance to the Castle (behind Flora MacDonald’s statue) will be reinstated, after having been closed for decades. It will lead into a magnificent foyer, also reinstated, that recreates the former grandeur of the original building.
Future plans for the Castle Hill area continue to evolve. The kind of ideas that have been discussed include the creation of new and larger spaces for a museum and gallery for the Highlands and Islands, new places to eat and drink, to stay and to shop, and a roof garden that increases the amount of green space around the castle. The whole area will be developed in ways that reflect the Spirit of the Highlands, celebrating its contemporary vibrancy as well as its historic roots. The beautiful Inverness Town House next door remains the civic home for the city and is a heritage jewel, inside and out. It will continue to be a core part of the Castle Hill.