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FROM THE ARCHIVES: History of Clachnacuddin Stone integral to Inverness

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Clachnacuddin Stone. Picture: Am Baile.
Clachnacuddin Stone. Picture: Am Baile.

Situated on the south side of the High Street on the pavement before the Town House, and beneath the Town Cross, the Clachnacuddin Stone has been associated with the history of Inverness for centuries, writes Margaret MacDougall.

There are some traditional tales connected with it, one of which records that it was originally the seat of a famous seer or prophet who predicted that so long as the natives of Inverness preserved it, the Burgh would flourish and be prosperous. Another is that when the town was burned by Donald of the Isles in 1411 before the Battle of Harlaw, the natives were consoled for their loss by finding that the ancient stone was left uninjured by the fire.

In 1776, two youths were jailed for “committing the crime and indignity of tumbling the stone called Clachnacutine out of its frame”.

The public prosecutor had offered a reward of one guinea for information regarding the perpetrators of the ‘crime’ and as a result the two young men were arrested. This incident shows the regard for the stone felt by the townspeople.

In 1791, the Magistrates decided to remove the stone but the inhabitants protested so strongly that it was left without interference.

In 1837, when street improvements were being carried out, the Clachnacuddin was sunk to ground level and the townspeople regarded this as a sign of ill-omen. In August 1837, the Town Council ordered the stone to be raised to its former level – this action followed a petition addressed to them and signed by numerous citizens, praying that the relic should be restored to its former level.

Inverness Town House. Picture: Highland Archives.
Inverness Town House. Picture: Highland Archives.

The Inverness Courier of September 6, 1837 gives an account of the ‘exhumation’ of the stone and records that when it was raised above the ground a bottle of wine was broken over the stone and blessing pronounced.

Since then, the stone has been moved several times and for a short period lay beneath the Forbes Fountain on the Exchange where it was protected by a grid-iron to save it from departing Invernessians who got into the way of abstracting a chip off it when they left their native town.

It was finally removed around 1899 to rest beneath the restored Town Cross on the Exchange. The base is surrounded by three small circular steps and only the top of the stone is now to be seen. For a short time it lay on the Castle Wynd.

The name Clachnacuddin means the ‘stone of the Tubs’. It was the palladium of Inverness for many years. When carrying their water from the river (the main source of drinking water for many generations) the townspeople would rest there with their ‘tubs’ or ‘pails’ of water.

Today the stone is used as a platform by out-of-door public speakers and will, no doubt, remain for all time in its present position outside Inverness Town House.

Inverness Town House. Picture: Cook Collection, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.
Inverness Town House. Picture: Cook Collection, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.

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