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Inverness, Cromwell Road, Cromwell's Fort

Fortification (17th Century)

Site Name Inverness, Cromwell Road, Cromwell's Fort

Classification Fortification (17th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Oliver's Fort; The Sconce; Cromwell's Tower; Cromwell's Citadel; Remains Of Cromwell's Fort, Bastion West Of Lotland Place, Inverness

Canmore ID 13392

Site Number NH64NE 4

NGR NH 6650 4635

NGR Description Centred on NH 6650 4635

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/13392

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2022.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Inverness And Bona
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Inverness
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NH64NE 4 NH 6650 4635.

Also see:

NH64NE 132 NH 66445 46394 Clock Tower

(NH 6650 4635) Cromwell's Fort {NR} (Remains of)

OS 6" map, (1938)

The fort of which these are the remains was built by Oliver Cromwell in 1653-8 from material obtained from the Greyfriars Church and St. Mary's Chapel, Inverness, and from monasteries of Beauly and Kinloss as well as the episcopal castle of Chanonry all of which he demolished for that purpose. The timber obtained was partly from the fir woods of Strathglass and the remaining part, the oak, was brought from England. In form it was pentagonal with ramparts and bastions, having a wet ditch on four sides and the river washing it on the fifth, the western.

A large, square, three-storied building which served as a magazine, stores and church occupied the centre, while two large four-storied buildings on opposite sides within the ramparts furnished accommodation for a thousand men.

On the restoration of Charles II it was demolished at the request of the Highland Chiefs in 1662. A portion of the factory since erected there still remains and is used as a drill hall, as also the clock tower of the same building: but whether this tower formed part of Cromwell's original buildings or not cannot now be ascertained."

A dock is constructed at the southern entrance of the once wet ditch of Cromwell's Fort.

Name Book 1868; Information from the Admiralty chart 1846 & Inverness Directory & from a plan of Inverness by I Wood. New Statistical Account (NSA, Rev A Rose, A Clark and R Macpherson) 1845.

Of the four citadels built in Scotland by Cromwell, the Inverness one, locally known as "the Sconce" is the only one of which any considerable remains are to be seen. The clock-tower, with the ruins of the rampart and a fragment of the barracks, still stands to witness to what was once a formidable fortress.

G Eyre-Todd 1923.

There also remains the bottom part of the clock tower, re-roofed, and re-furnished with a clock.... this tower was extant in 1693....

J Fraser 1910.

The NW and NE bastions with part of the North rampart running between them are all that remain of Cromwell's Fort.

The NE bastion, a large flat-topped mound of earth c. 3.5m high, has the remains of three gunplatforms on top. A much mutilated mound of earth c. 3.0m high is all that remains of the NW bastion. The part of the earth rampart left between the bastions, is 8.0m broad overall and 2.0m wide on top. It is c. 1.3m high on the inner slope and c. 2.3m high on the outer. The whole is in a very mutilated condition; the interior of the fort and the south bastions are completely destroyed and the area is now covered with petrol and oil installations.

The clock tower still stands, in a good state of repair. It is an almost square tower (3.1m x 3.2m) of ashlar masonry with a string course c. 3.0m above ground level and is surmounted by a slated belfry with weather-vane. There is a small rectangular doorway in the SE side. The clock and the bell are in good working order. The tower would appear to date from the 18th Century.

Visited by OS (W D J) 31 March 1960.

NH 666 464. Two archaeological watching briefs were carried out during the construction of new buildings and associated services on the site of Cromwell's Fort, Inverness. No archaeological features or layers were recorded, though excavation reached underlying subsoil 0.8m below present ground level.

Sponsor: BP Oil.

J Kendrick 1999

NH 6639 4626 A watching brief was maintained on the groundworks for the replacement of the existing Citadel Quay on the site of the Cromwellian fort at Inverness Harbour. Though the site was heavily disturbed during the building of a quay in 1901, traces of an earlier 19th-century quay were revealed, utilising blocks from the 17th-century fort. Part of the citadel fort was also revealed at the edge of the excavation. A block of stone with a mason's mark was found. No archaeological deposits relating to the occupation of the fort were revealed.

Full report lodged with Highland SMR and the NMRS.

Sponsor: A F Cruden Associates for Inverness Harbour Trust.

S Farrell 2001

Watching brief NH 6648 4634 The fragmentary remains of Cromwell's Fort (NH64NE 4) lie on the E side of the River Ness in the present area of Inverness Harbour. They are now occupied by an oil storage and distribution depot. Only one bastion and a short section of rampart are visible. An archaeological record was made of postholes excavated for a replacement security fence, in response to a requirement of Scheduled Monument Consent. The remains of a stone wall were encountered running along the present boundary line on the SE site boundary. The date is uncertain, but it probably

post-dates the demolition of the fort rampart in this area.

Report and archive deposited in Highland SMR and NMRS.

Sponsor: BP Oils UK.

J Wood 2005

Architecture Notes

Reference

Inverness. Fort

Advertisement for tenders, 1747

(Edinburgh Evening Courant, June 16, 1747)

William Skinner

Non-Guardianship Sites Plan Collection, DC23266- DC23274, 1746.

Activities

Publication Account (1977)

Oliver Cromwell undertook construction of a citadel at Inverness in an effort to overawe the Highlands. Begun in 1652, it took five years to finish. When completed, the citadel was a five-cornered structure with bastions and a wet ditch on four sides, the fifth being washed by the river. Inside the compound was a quartet of buildings providing accommodation for 1, 000 troops, a church, magazine and stores. The principal gateway of the citadel faced north with a sally port on the opposite side facing the burgh. Stone for the project came from nearby ecclesiastical centres: Beauly, Kinloss, St. Mary's Chapel and the Dominican Friary. The area is largely mutilated with only portions of the northeast and northwest bastions and part of the north rampart surviving. A rather curious clock-tower stands in what was the citadel compound. It is an almost square tower of ashlar masonry, surmounted by a slated belfry and with a weathervane, dating perhaps from the eighteenth century (Ordnance Survey, Record Cards, Reference NH 64 NE 4).

Information from ‘Historic Inverness: The Archaeological Implications of Development’ (1977).

Field Visit (April 1979)

Inverness, Cromwell's Fort NH 666 464 NH64NE 4

Only the NE bastion can now be seen of this pentagonal artillery-fort built by Cromwell in 1652-7 and slighted after the Restoration. The scheduled clock-tower which stands within the area of the fort (NH 664 463) appears to date from the late 18th century.

RCAHMS1979, visited April 1979

NSA, xiv, Inverness, 15; Cruden 1963, 229-30

Excavation (6 May 2005)

Watching brief NH 6648 4634 The fragmentary remains of Cromwell's Fort (NH64NE 4) lie on the E side of the River Ness in the present area of Inverness Harbour. They are now occupied by an oil storage and distribution depot. Only one bastion and a short section of rampart are visible. An archaeological record was made of postholes excavated for a replacement security fence, in response to a requirement of Scheduled Monument Consent. The remains of a stone wall were encountered running along the present boundary line on the SE site boundary. The date is uncertain, but it probably

post-dates the demolition of the fort rampart in this area.

Report and archive deposited in Highland SMR and NMRS.

Sponsor: BP Oils UK.

J Wood 2005

Archaeological Evaluation (28 March 2011 - 30 March 2011)

NH 66579 46391 (centred on) A programme of archaeological work was undertaken 28–30 March 2011 on the scheduled ancient monument of Cromwell’s Fort. The fort survives as two lengths of rampart and a bastion, which appear on the ground as turf-covered earthen banks. The work, which took place within the boundary of the Inverness Oil Terminal, aimed to identify the most suitable surface on which to lay impermeable bentonite clay matting, without causing unnecessary disturbance to the monument.

The vegetation was stripped from two areas, measuring 12 x 1m and 10 x 1m, and extended from the inner edge of the bastion to the fence that forms the limit of the oil terminal. Area 1 was stripped by hand to a depth of c5mm. The surface was lightly trowelled but no features other than rabbit burrows were identified. Area 2 was stripped by hand to a depth of c10–15mm and this revealed a small area of gravel in the N part of the area and gravelly/stony topsoil material on the embankment slope. These deposits may represent in situ bastion material, or eroded and disturbed material. Several finds of probably 19th/20th-century date were recovered from the turf/topsoil layer.

Archive: Highland HER and RCAHMS

Funder: GB Oils

CFA Archaeology Ltd, 2011

References

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