Inveraray started out as a huddle of cottages watched over by the castle, the stronghold of the Campbell chiefs, who became the Dukes of Argyll. In the mid-18th century the third Duke decided to treat himself to a new castle and, while he was at it, built a new town further away than the original settlement with the help of Roger Morris, William Adam (father of Robert) and Robert Mylne. The result is a well spaced out, neat little town on the shore of Loch Fyne. There used to be a fishery, and the town's motto in those days was "May you always have a catch of herring". There was also a jail, which has been preserved as a tourist attraction. I visited the Inveraray Jail on a day trip to the town a few years ago and found it fascinating to learn about the crimes people were thrown into prison for in those days and the sentences given. Some crimes condemned the perpetrator to transportation to Australia, and the miscreants receiving punishments included children as young as 7 or 8. The town's skyline is dominated by the AllSaints Bell Tower, which is normally open to visitors who can climb the 176 steps to enjoy the views from the top, but it is currently closed until July 2013.
Inveraray Castle is a Gothic-style turreted building where visitors can marvel at the magnificence of the interiors, including the Armoury Hall, which has the highest ceiling in Scotland and, as the name suggests, an impressive display of carefully arranged weaponry. Another highlight is the Tapestry Drawing Room, decorated in the Parisian style. Upstairs is a gallery and the Clan Room devoted to the history of the Campbell Clan. The old kitchen can be viewed in the basement, where there is also a tearoom. Outside, visitors can wander round the gardens, which are a mixture of formal arrangements, parkland and woodland, while the "Policies" - a term for grounds surrounding a country house - include three main avenues, plus water features, a Watch Tower and a dovecote. In 1975 the castle suffered a bad fire, and press reports of the time described how the local people "formed a human chain in a bid to save priceless treasures". Thankfully, Lady Colin Campbell, based in London, launched a fund to restore the castle.
Map of the area.
© 2009 Patrick Mackie, via Wikimedia Commons