In 1562, Mary, Queen of Scots visited Inverness Castle – or rather, she tried to. On 9 September, the gates of the castle were closed to her by Alexander Gordon on the order of the 4th Earl of Huntly. Subsequently, Mary’s supporters besieged the castle for three days until it finally fell.
Alexander Gordon was hanged for treason with his head being displayed on the castle. Mary herself stayed at Inverness from 11 until 14 September before moving on to Spynie Palace. “I never saw the Queen merrier – never dismayed; nor never thought I that stomach to be in her that I find. She repented nothing but (when the Lords and others at Inverness came in the morning from the watch) that she was not a man, to know what life it was to lie all night in the fields, or to walk upon the causeway with a jack and a knapsack, a Glowgow buckler, and a broadsword.”1
The current red sandstone structure was built in 1836 by William Burn, and it now houses the Inverness Sheriff Court. It is not open to the public, but you can go inside the north tower of the castle, which has a viewpoint at the top.