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Battle Of Inverlochy (1431)

Battle Site(S) (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Battle Of Inverlochy (1431)

Classification Battle Site(S) (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Fort William

Canmore ID 23707

Site Number NN17NW 3

NGR NN 11916 74877

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kilmonivaig
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire


Field Visit (11 May 1970)

The battles of Inverlochy (NN17NW 3 and NN17NW 71) were fought where the British Aluminium Works now stand (notice erected by the Lochaber Hist Soc in 1969) as relics were found during the construction of the works and were donated to the West Highland Museum in Fort William.

Visited by OS (NKB), 11 May 1970.

Reference (1971)

NN 126 750

(Name: NN 118 752) Site of (NAT)

Battles of Inverlochy (NR) (AD 1431 and 1645) (NAT)

OS 6" map (1904)

'A': The Battle of Inverlochy, fought in January 1431 (NN17NW 3) , seems to have been centred on the castle of Inverlochy (NN17NW 1). It was one of a series of battles in which James I attempted to break the power of Alexander, Lord of the Isles.

Donald Balloch, cousin of Alexander, with the island clansmen, sailed

up Loch Linnhe, landed near Inverlochy, where the royal forces were stationed and attacked it from the S, while Alasdair Carrach of Tor Castle (NN17NW 2) attacked simultaneously from the N. The royal forces were routed.

'B': The second Battle of Inverlochy was fought on the 2nd February 1645 (NN17NW 71) by the royalist army, under the Marquis of Montrose, and the Covenanters, under the Marquis of Argyll.

Argyll, based on Inverlochy, faced Montrose approaching from the NE down the Great Glen.

The battle commenced a short distance SE of the castle, i.e. towards

the mouth of Glen Nevis. Argyll's forces lined the ridge at Tomnahara (Tomnaharry - NN 119 751) overlooking the present highway, having left about 50 men to guard the castle against a surprise attack.

Montrose and his men occupied the almost parallel ridge to that of Argyll which stretches across the mouth of Glen Nevis to the E of the railway, i.e. the vicinity of the present carbon factory ground which used to be called Goirtean Odhar (dun-coloured arable ground) (NN 123 750). As the Campbells were pressed back by the forces of Montrose,

the final scenes of the battle developed on the plain to the S of the castle which is now bisected by the Fort William to Mallaig railway.

The Covenanters made the first onset but were repulsed by the royalists ad pressed back with heavy losses, before they broke and fled.

(This would place the initial phases of the battle at about NN 1215 7510 with the later phases being conducted in the vicinity of the published site).

D B MacCulloch 1971.

Metal Detector Survey (25 June 2012 - 28 June 2012)

NN 118 752 (centred on) A desk-based assessment and metal detector survey were carried out, 25–28 June 2012, along the route of a power line through battlefield sites by Inverlochy Castle. The work was carried out in advance of the construction of a new switchroom at Inverlochy substation and the laying of a cable at Blar Mhor, and aimed to assess their potential impact upon the sites of two battles (1431 and 1645). A c510m long by 5m wide corridor was surveyed across the battlefield. A range of modern finds was recovered, including cans, coins and fragments that were probably from farm machinery and cars.

Archive: RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: SSE

Ray Cachart, Alder Archaeology Ltd



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