History of the Highlands

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The past is written all over the Highlands landscape which features famous battlefields, majestic monuments and intriguing ancient relics.

Glencoe is a place of great significance in Scottish history. You can learn all about the infamous massacre of 1692 at the Glencoe Visitor Centre and Glencoe & North Lorn Folk Museum.

The Glenfinnan Monument at the head of Loch Shiel is a tribute to the Jacobite clansmen and the history of the Jacobite Rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie is told at the nearby visitor centre.

Culloden was the last battle fought on British soil and you can walk the battlefield, while in the visitor centre, you can get vivid detail of the Jacobites’ 1746 defeat by government troops.

Nearby Fort George was built by the government in the wake of Culloden and is one of the finest feats of 18th century military engineering. It took 20 years to complete and remains unaltered.

The Picts were the indigenous people of the north and left behind remarkable ancient relics. See the impressive Sueno’s Stone in Forres and follow the Pictish Trail from Inverness to Golspie.

Discover the history and heritage of Highland communities. Newtonmore has the Highland Folk Museum and the Skye Museum of Island Life portrays life on the island during the 19th century.

The infamous Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries saw Highlanders driven from their homes by ruthless landowners. Learn more about this notorious episode of Highland history at the Strathnaver Museum.

Explore your roots in the Highlands too, with family records held in the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness and the North Highland Archive in Wick.

  • Scuba Divers in Loch Duich admiring Eilean Donan Castle
    Eilean Donan Castle
  • Sueno's Stone, Forres
    Sueno's Stone, Forres
  • Dunrobin Castle and Grounds
    Dunrobin Castle and Grounds
  • Sueno's Stone, Forres
    Sueno's Stone, Forres
Medieval Cawdor Castle flood-lit at night

Historic attractions

Visit famous battlefields and grand forts, ancient burial sites, Neolithic stone circles and standing stones.

Culloden Battlefield at dusk, near Inverness

Timeline

From the Highland Clearances to the first sighting of Nessie, learn about the history of the Highlands with this timeline.

People trace their ancestors at the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness

Ancestry

With the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th century, many can trace their ancestors back to the Highlands.

Looking across to Dunrobin Castle, near Golspie, Sutherland

Castle itinerary

Explore the dramatic history of the Scottish Highlands as you take a tour around the various castles in the region. Built as strongholds, each castle has a unique and turbulent history stretching back, in some cases, more than 1,000 years.

A pictish sculpture on display at Groam House Museum

Highland Pictish Trail

The Pictish Trail takes you from Inverness to Golspie in Sutherland. Explore these artefacts and learn more about the culture and lifestyles of the Picts who lived in the Highlands thousands of years ago.