This week we resume our look at Scottish towns with a visit to one of
Scotland's newest cities, the 'Capital of the Highlands', Inverness.
Created a burgh by David I, King of Scots, Inverness is one of the
oldest historically recorded towns in Scotland. The river name 'Nesa'
is first mentioned in the 7th century and the name Inverness means 'at
the mouth of the Ness'. The city lies at the lowest fording point on
the river and good access to the sea means it has been an important
centre for travel throughout the centuries.
There has been settlement on the site since 6000 BC when a Mesolithic camp
was established on what is now Castle Street. In the 6th century, the
Picts controlled the area, establishing a powerful kingdom. Their leader,
King Brude, was converted to Christianity by St Columba who visited in 565
AD, enountering it is claimed the Loch Ness Monster on his way to
The medieval town grew up along the east bank of the river. Before the
construction of the first wooden bridge in the 13th century, the main
fording point across the Ness was at Friar's Shot. The main street ran
along the present day line of Church Street, from the castle at the top
down to harbour, on the present day site of Waterloo Bridge and Portland
Place. After the bridge was built, the focus of the town shifted towards
the castle, and the present High Street was established.
Medieval Inverness was a thriving centre for the export of wool, hides,
timber and salmon. It was also an important shipbuilding centre and in
1249, the Count de Pol ordered a ship to be built in Inverness for the
Crusades. Shipbuilding, sail-making and rope-working continued in the town
into the 19th century and the opening of the Caledonian canal in 1822 made
travel through the Great Glen faster and allowed better access to markets
in the west of Scotland and Ireland.
The development of the railways in the 19th century and air travel in the
20th, mean that tourism has become an important part of the city economy.
Indeed Inverness is now a major player on the tourist and conference
front. The Scottish National Party has for many years held its Annual
National Conference in the town's Eden Court Theatre on the banks of the
Ness and will return again in September 2004. As the tourists, of all
nationalities, enjoy the attractions of Inverness, the River Ness
continues to draw people to the Highland Capital as it has done for the
last 8,000 years.
For the next eight days The Inverness Gathering 2004 will prove a major
draw, as all roads will lead to the banks of the Ness. The biggest party
staged in the Highlands will start on Saturday 24 July 2004 with the City
of Inverness Highland Games in the Bught Park. Founded 182 years ago, the
Games will feature the very best in tradional Highland sports. Music and
Dancing Competitions, the biggest Clan gathering ever seen in the
Highlands, a giant fun fair and almost 100 stalls (Adult Ticket £5 -
Concession £1). The gates open at 11am and the spectacular opening
ceremony starts at 11.45am and will climax with a RAF Hercules flypast. On
Sunday 25 July sees the North of Scotland Junior Golf Open and Family Fun
Day at Loch Ness Golf Course, Fairways, Inverness (Free entry). The action
then moves to the Northern Meeting Park for the 53rd Inverness Tattoo
which takes place at 8pm every evening, Monday 26 July - Saturday 31 July
2004. The spectacular Tattoo will feature massed Pipes and Drums Bands and
Military Bands and displays by the Golden Lions Freefall Parachute Display
Team and the 19th Regiment royal Artillery (Adult Ticket £7 covered/£5
open air - Concessions: half price).
Potatoes have played a major part in the diet of the Highlands, indeed all
of Scotland, for several centuries and it is a healthy tattie alternative
to chips or roast potatoes which is this week's recipe - Easy Crispy
Potato Wedges - serves four.
Easy Crispy Potato Wedges
Ingredients : 4 baking potatoes, about 225g each; vegetable oil, for
greasing; 2 x 15ml sp olive oil; pinch of salt; black pepper
Clean and scrub potatoes thoroughly. Slice each potato into eight equal
sized wedges. Transfer into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water
until the potatoes are covered. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Preheat
oven to 220 degreesC/ 425 degrees F/ Gas Mark 7. Lightly grease two baking
sheets with vegetaable oil. Drain the potatoes, then dry thoroughly on
sheets of kitchen paper. Put the potatoes back into the bowl. Add olive
oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently until potatoes are evenly coated.
Transfer the potatoes to prepared baking sheets. Bake for 40 minutes or
until soft in centre and crisp and browned on the outside. Swap baking
sheets halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Serve wedges with a
variety of dips or as an accompaniment to a main meal.