A mood for history

I was supposed to be writing today – at least, that’s the idea of my four-day week and free Mondays. “Happy Mondays”, I call them.

However, I was uploading photos earlier from a walk yesterday with Nicole along the shoreline just east of Inverness. Down the turning for Milton of Culloden is the remains of the old A96.

The road is much closer to the shore, boasts fine views of the Kessock Bridge and Black Isle, and is in places significantly overgrown. It’s a lovely, quiet walk, especially on a warm, sunny day as yesterday was.

My keenness for heading along here lay in an old toll house that I have seen many times from the train. With remains of just two walls still standing, it is covered in graffiti, encroached by trees and plants, and littered by rubble from its own decay.

I was always intrigued by this isolated and sad-looking ruin, and after a quick scour of the internet I discovered its purpose. So it was fascinating to see it up close, but there is frustratingly little about the building online. Therefore, other than knowing it was the old toll house for travellers from the east, I have no idea as to its age or history.

In trying to find out more just earlier today, I strumbled across a few websites that mentioned another historical site in the city – an old Dominican priory in Inverness which dated back to 1233 but which was destroyed around the time of the Reformation. All that remains of it were two relics, the site later being used as a graveyard and, more recently, straddled insensitively by the telephone exchange.

I was surprised I’d never heard of this place – right in the city centre – so went for an explore this afternoon. It’s an astonishing place – the sense of history and peace surreally contrasted by the towering exchange buildings on either side.

I wonder how many Invernessians have no idea of its existence. I certainly didn’t until a few hours ago.

While in a mood for history, I also paid a quick visit to the big cemetery on Academy Street, something I’ve gone past innumerable times but never entered. It was nearly closing time, so it was just a quick scout, but I’ll definitely go back as there was so much to see.

I’ve uploaded to Flickr my shots of the old A96 and toll house, Greyfriars graveyard and priory remains, and one from the Academy Street cemetery.

Back to work tomorrow – I’ll be in Edinburgh and Dundee this week. Then of course I’ll be in Glasgow at the weekend, which I hope will be a good chance to catch up with friends.

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