EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: A New International Clans & Heritage Centre at Inverness Castle?

Inverness-Castle-duriong-the-Festival-Season-By-Bob-Irwin-inverness-scotland.com_Inverness Castle presents a stunning sight above the River Ness as it flows through the ancient capital of the Scottish highlands.  The old stronghold was not designed for the special rigors of modern action but it has been kept in service as host of local courts and judicial business for years.   Might Inverness Castle serve a more fitting and useful purpose today?

Many people think perhaps so and some influential players are vigorously exploring exciting ideas.  We know that detailed discussions are taking place about the future of Inverness Castle.  Heritage and other advocates are pushing forward with aims for the Castle to become an International Clans and Heritage Centre.  Advocates for the heritage centre will be discussing the idea with various government and Scottish Clan groups this fall and winter.

Already several in the Scottish and local Highland governments have gotten behind the concept and are actively exploring potential.  It is not surprising that the international Scottish ancestral and heritage community is excited about the possibilities of creating such a high profile and iconic place as a permanent home to Scottish clan and family history and culture.

The idea is far from a done deal and many stakeholders are yet to become involved.  Re-furbishment will be challenging as the building was in fact designed as a court and prison, built in 1836 and 1845 respectively, and has Grade A listing which means that virtually every pin, pot of paint and stone has to be approved by Historic Scotland.  We will keep you up to date on developments as they occur.  Check out this Highland Clans Partnership Group Briefing Paper for a deeper look at the concept.

4 responses to “EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: A New International Clans & Heritage Centre at Inverness Castle?”

  1. David McArdle says:

    Clans & Heritage Center at Inverness Castle…
    This is an APPALLING idea, badly thought-out and not in anyone’s interests except a few clustered around Inverness.
    It does nothing for the clans in the far north and completely ignores Borders clans and Lowland Families.
    It certainly does not have widespread support around the Scottish ancestral community, nor amongst the Chiefs.
    When it was trailed at Bannockburn, it was clear that some of those behind it had no idea that there already a major facility in Inverness – the brand-new Highland Archive Centre

    D McA

  2. What is really needed is a center than can handle clan gatherings and meetings from around the world as well as domestically. That means it needs to be close to an airport with good rail and road links. Have ample hotel accommodation and lots of land to put on a Highland Games and other events and given the weather this also needs to be an all weather arena. I once attended a meeting in Moultrie in Georgia where there was a huge amount of outside space available but there were also lots of large barns where exhibitors could move inside if needed.

    Then you should aim to have all clans and family groups purchase their own room in the center. This is where they can store their own archives and have facilities to put up pictures and charts, clan flags, banners, tartans, etc. Each room would have facilities for tables and chairs for small group meetings to be held. Internal decoration would be done by each clan or family group.

    Unlike the Highland Archive Centre, which hardly anyone has heard of, it would aim to digitise all material so that there is easy access to all material from anywhere in the world with full multi-media access available.

    In my view this is a center for the Scots Diaspora which is ten times the population of Scotland and I’d like to think that it should be funded by them. It should also be an all year round facility so it would best be situated in easy reach of all kinds of facilities for both summer and winter activities. Why not get Donald Trump involved but he’d need to perhaps recognise that not everyone that attends the center is a multi-millionaire!

    It should also be a center where the Scottish Caucus and other influential groups from around the world could hold meetings. It should not only be a center for the Scots Diaspora but one that would also promote the Scots Diaspora to local Scots to show them what their Diaspora has done around the world. This would then also become a business hub where local Scottish companies could go to get help to export to countries around the world. This also become a business center for the Scots-Americans, Scots-Irish, Scots-Canadian, Scots-Chinese, Scots-French, Scots-Germans, etc. Embassies would be encouraged to fund a room there to promote their countries and tell us about their local Scottish connections in their own countries.

    In other words you need to develop a grand world vision for this type of center and so involving the Scots Diaspora would be key to its development. And so the “Scots Diaspora Center” would be born and not become just a clan and family center but something much larger.

  3. I tend to agree with much of what both contributors above have said. The proposed Highland Clans Centre seems to be entirely for the benefit of Invernesians, ignoring clans to the north, south and west, and totally avoiding the Lowlands families and the Borderers. Given that the vast majority of the Diaspora did not come from anywhere near Inverness (or even the Highlands) the focus seems to be all wrong.
    I went through an exercise a few years back looking at something very similar, to be based on the shores of Loch Lomond. We even identified a suitable place, half an hour from Glasgow airport. The powers that be, predictably, “couldn’t see the need”.
    My other Cunning Plan was to have a “reverse Ellis Island” at Greenock – lots of people left from there at emigration, and it already has a sort-of Diaspora Centre at the Watt Library which deserves greater support. We even identified a building. I met the local (list) MSP, and we tried hard to get Inverclyde Council interested. Sadly, they couldn’t see the ludicrousness of a situation where more than 65,000 Americans and others turn up in some 40 cruise ships at Greenock – precisely where their ancestors may have embarked from – then get on coaches and head for everywhere else without buying so much as an ice-cream locally.
    Inverclyde Council did get some money, but decided to spend it on a bunch of car dealerships strung out along the main road.
    This needs decided at a national level, otherwise we’ll have another white elephant.

  4. I note West Dumbartonshire Council are looking to engage local people and stake holders about how to promote Dumbarton Castle and the sea front as a tourism destination. Given that’s not far from Greenock it may be worth checking in with them. Mary Queen of Scots and William Wallace were both at the castle.

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