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Fort George, Inverness: executed and unexecuted designs for chimneypieces for Major-General William Skinner, c1767 (5)

Signed and dated

  • c1767


Fort George, the largest of the Highland forts, was built by the Board of Ordnance in response to the Jacobite uprising of 1745. About ten miles from Inverness on the Ardersier peninsula, it was particularly crucial as a fortification in the Highlands as Inverness Castle - built in 1727 incorporating parts of the medieval castle - had been blown up by the Jacobites. Tt was begun in 1748, and completed in 1769 at a total cost of over £200,000, and is large enough to house 3,000 men. The star-shaped fort was built to designs by Colonel William Skinner (1700-80), the Chief Engineer in Scotland, in 1747. Skinner was appointed Chief Engineer of Great Britain in 1757, and promoted to Major-General in 1762. The contract for the construction of Fort George was awarded to William Adam (1689-1748), Master Mason to the Board of Ordnance. However, William Adam died only a few months later, and the project was continued by his sons John, Robert and James.

At the southern end of the fort complex is the Governor’s House, now The Highlanders Museum, and it contains two chimneypieces, probably by James Adam, of c1767, in the drawing room and the great dining room, installed shortly before the completion of the fort. A third contemporary chimneypiece design survives in the Adam drawings collection, but there is no evidence that this was executed.

Fort George received various improvements during the nineteenth century, and was even considered as a place of confinement for Napoleon. It has been the headquarters of various regiments, currently The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, and is open to the public.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 13, 87; J. Fleming, Robert Adam and his circle, 1962, pp. 64, 84, 86; J. Gifford, The buildings of Scotland: Highlands and islands, 1992, pp. 174-75; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, p. 31

Frances Sands, 2012



Digitisation of the Drawings Collection has been made possible through the generosity of the Leon Levy Foundation

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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Fort George, Inverness: executed and unexecuted designs for chimneypieces for Major-General William Skinner, c1767 (5)