I was in the Pictish section of the Inverness Museum (where else would I be!) when I saw a mention of a hillfort site reused by the Picts which could be seen outside the window across the River Ness. My brain immediately started calculating whether or not I could make it before dark, and off I went! I knew I would be coming back in the dark but I’m familiar with Inverness so I wasn’t concerned about getting lost on the return. And it wasn’t until the moment I looked at the view out that window, (one which my ancestors would have seen as well) that it occurred to me it’s quite possible I might be descended from Picts. That makes me connect with my novel’s main character (she has a name now btw!) even more now !
(Note: I walked about 5.5 miles round trip from city center but Craig Phadrig has its own car park so you can start a lot closer.)
The air was pretty chilly and with a giant cloud bank sitting over the setting sun I was keeping my expectations low for seeing much. But while I was in the forest struggling up the harder paths (I didn’t go around to the car park start point), the cloud was shifting and as I broke into the clearing on top of the hill, I was in for a lovely surprise. The view on the other side is a stunning vista of the Beauly Firth and beyond. It’s no wonder the ancient people chose this spot for a fort, it truly has a commanding view. It is believed the fort was built during the early Iron Age and destroyed in the 1st Century. Later it was reused by the Picts.
In 2015, 2 trees fell during a storm and when archaeologists went to assess the damage they found a huge stone wall had been hiding in the turf. This fort and the one just over the Kessock Bridge on Ord Hill would have controlled the key routes into the Highlands. This area has been the hub of the Highlands for a very long time!