The Fort

The town now known as Fort William has had many names, suggesting something of its strategic and political importance to the control of the Highlands.

The first settlement in 1654 was called Braintoun after its first governor - there was no town at all until Cromwell's military came to keep the locals in check. In 1690, the year William III's Commander-in-Chief in Scotland called the soldiers' settlement Fort William after the King, the Duke of Gordon also tried to name it Gordonsburgh after himself. Duncan Cameron of Callart later tried to change the name to Duncansburgh. In 1954, a suggestion was even made to change the name to Abernevis to distance the town from its oppressive origins, but this came to nothing.

Throughout the vanities of landowners and governors alike, the town remained to the locals what it always had been: an Gearasdan, the garrison to the Gaelic speakers and to the English speakers, the Fort.

Designs on the Place

A military map of the old 'Fort at Inverlochy', i.e. the 'Fort' in 'Fort William'.

This map dates from January 1657, and has each section of the fort clearly marked - complete with the governor's room (which has been recreated in panels within the museum), the commissary, the smithy, supply stores, etc.

Military map

On the loch side of this map - in the grammar and spelling of the time - is the phrase ?

"This is the lough ... where our shipps comes in"

written over the stippled water.