Fort George, Inverness: executed and unexecuted designs for chimneypieces for Major-General William Skinner, c1767 (5)
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 to fortify the Highlands as Inverness Castle - built in 1727 to incorporate parts of the medieval castle - had been blown up by the Jacobites. At a total cost of over £200,000, it was begun in 1748, and completed in 1769, and is large enough to house a body of 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.
Literature: 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