The end of an era for Inverness castle

Grampian, Highland and Islands Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle handed over the keys of Inverness castle yesterday, closing the door on more than 180 years as the sheriff courthouse for Inverness.

The castle is now in the hands of Highland Council, following the move of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) to the new Inverness Justice Centre earlier this year.

“Inverness castle was specifically built as a sheriff courthouse and county hall, and has served justice and the people of Inverness well for more than 180 years,” said Sheriff Principal Pyle.

“I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has worked in this building, supporting its work and its history over the years. As that chapter closes, I am pleased that the castle will continue to serve Inverness and its community in this new role.”

Inverness Sheriff Clerk Ruth Thomson, who has worked at the SCTS in Inverness since 2001 said: “The castle is an iconic building, centrally located within the town, and popular with visitors from all over the world. A number of our staff worked at the Castle for many years and there was a lot of emotional attachment to the building and fond memories of working there.

“Although the move to the Inverness Justice Centre occurred slightly earlier than planned, in response to the Government’s lockdown measures in March, the decision to move then was absolutely the right one.

“The new building is bright, clean and spacious enough to allow for physical distancing and all the courtrooms are equipped with the technology we require to operate as a hub court.”

Inverness castle is now destined to become a tourist attraction, swapping custodies for voluntary visitors eager to take in the views and, eventually, a new museum, gallery, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.

It was built in 1834 as the sheriff courthouse and county hall on the site of an early timber castle, which was replaced by a stone tower in the 16th century. The main building, which hosted the sheriff courts, was completed in 1835 and, in April 1936, the Circuit Court of Justiciary reportedly sat in new courthouse for the first time.

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