The Scottish Highlands and The Cairngorms offer lots to see and do for those who wish to discover our area’s rich and dramatic history. Here are our top picks of some fascinating places that show the history of our area.
- Ruthven Barracks This is one of our favourite places in the area – as it is so connected with Highland history. The imposing ruin sits over looking the river spey beside Kingussie. The site has long been of importance for the defending the area and later for quelling rebellious Highlanders! A fort stood there from 1200s and at one point it was held by The Wolf of Badenoch – a son of Robert Bruce with a fierce reputation. The current structure was built by the British Government to quell the Highlanders during first Jacobite rebellion but didn’t see action until the next rebellion in 1745. The Jacobites tried to take it at the start of the rising but had to come back with bigger guns to capture it. It remained in Stuart hands and three thousand Jacobites took shelter there after Culloden. The barracks were destroyed when they left to stop it falling back into the British Crown’s hands – it has been a ruin ever since. Free to visit and perfect for atmospheric photos. Ruthven Barracks
- Highland Folk Museum Just along the road in Newtonmore is the Highland Folk Museum. This is a living open air museum that shows life in the highlands through the ages. It has some fantastically preserved buildings that have been saved from demolition and carefully rebuilt. Over the mile long site you can see buildings from the 1700s right up to 1950s – including a 1700s Highland village (used in Outlander) a clockmakers workshop and a Victorian school. Be sure to stop in past the old sweetie shop. A great day out for the family and keep an eye on the website for special events. Highland Folk Museum
- Clan Macpherson Museum, Newtonmore Newtonmore is the ancient home of the Macpherson clan and this museum tells their story. If you want to take your learning about the area even further this is the place to go. It will be of particular interest to anyone with Macpherson heritage or a keen interest in the Highlands – you will be sure of a warm welcome by the museum staff. The museum first opened back in 1952 and over the years has grown its collection of artefacts to now cover the history of the Clan and area in great detail. Free to enter but £3 donation suggested. Clan Macpherson Museum
- Loch an Eilein Castle This must be one of the most photographed spots in the Cairngorm National Park – the ruined castle sits on its own island surrounded by the loch. Like other fortifications in the area it dates from the 1300s and was originally made to protect locals from thieves and threatening activities. It has seen its share of battles over the years and was most notably attacked following the Battle of Cromdale in 1690. Luckily today it is a lot more peaceful and you can enjoy a nice all ability walk around the loch to take it all in. Loch an Eilein Castle
- Castle Roy This ruined castle is not as well known as more famous castles in the area but it is an interesting place to stop past if you are in Nethy Bridge and it can be done as a circular walk from the village. Castle Roy is currently raising funds to build a dedicated visitor centre and you can help them fundraise by buying a square metre to pretend you own a Highland Castle! Castle Roy
- Granish stone circle This one is a bit of a hidden gem with many that live here not even knowing about it. The monument is a chambered cairn surrounded by the remains of a stone circle – likely dating from the late Neolithic or early Bronze age – so it is likely between 4 and 5 thousand years old. Local legend says this was the site where the Pictish King Brude was crowned and given a prophecy by a Celtic spirit about his reign as king. We love walking out here but so far have not encountered any spirits! An easy walk from Aviemore, follow the orbital route then head north on the path running parallel with Speyside way – there’s a great wee loch called Loch Nan Carraigean that is beside the stones – great spot for a picnic.
- Take a trip on a Steam Train to Broomhill station There is so much fascinating railway heritage in the area – sadly in the 60s many of the lines that went through the area have closed but efforts are under way to restore and preserve what was lost. Broomhill station was once the location of Nethy Bridge station and now forms the last stop of the Strathspey steam railway which you can take from Aviemore and Boat of Garten for a journey back to the steam era. There are ambitious plans to extend the line all the way to Grantown. To explore more railway heritage another place to check out is the fantastic Grantown East station – loving restored and serves great food in converted railway carriages – also has a mini railway for the kids. Strathspey Steam Railway
If you want to explore more, Aviemore makes the perfect base to discover the rest of the Highlands so we have also picked out some historic places easily reached from Aviemore.
Historic places to visit near Inverness
- Culloden Battlefield Site of the last battle on British soil where Bonnie Prince Charlie and the clan chiefs made their last stand. Walk amongst the heather to see the two battle lines, see the graves of the fallen Highland clans and learn all about the battle at the visitor centre. Culloden Battlefield
- Fort George Built to quell future rebellions in the Highlands after the Battle of Culloden this huge fort is seriously impressive – it is so big you can fit Edinburgh castle inside it. It took so long to build that by the time it finished the threat from the Jacobites had gone and Highland clan system was all but gone. If you are lucky you might be able to spot dolphins in the firth. They often have family fun days with reenactments so check out their website. Fort George
- Clava Cairns This four thousand year old neolithic site has got a very magical feel to it – not far from the Battlefield so well worth visiting once you have had your fill of Jacobite history. Clava Cairns
- Urquhart Castle A picture postcard Castle on the shore of Loch Ness – a must visit if exploring the Loch Ness. Keep your eyes peeled for Nessie. The village of Drumnadrochit offers good place to stop for lunch. Urquhart Castle
- The Victorian Market The area of Inverness around the station mostly dates from Victorian times and the Victorian Market forms the centre of this – originally used by farmers and traders it is now home to by quirky souvenir shops, cafes and independent businesses. The Victorian Market
- Cromarty village A historic fishing village on the Black Isle full of history and lots of unique independent businesses. Well worth spending time exploring -just over an hours drive from Aviemore. Lots of options for lunch but IV10 is fantastic. Cromarty
- Highland Archive Centre If you wish to research your Highland family history this might be a good place to start. The purpose built centre has a family history room and on hand experts to help with your research. 1 to 1 consultations are able to book. Highland Archive Centre
With so much history on your doorstep Aviemore makes the perfect base – so make plans to explore the Highland’s rich history from one of our luxury lodges.