Inverness, IV3 8PN
An impressive hill fort, dating back to the Iron Age (300BC),
abandoned, then re-occupied by the Picts which must have been an
important site for them. Bridei, the Pictish king in the second half of
the 6th century AD, is thought to have used it.
Superb views over the Great Glen, Inverness and over the Beauly Firth
to the Black Isle and beyond make it obvious why this made such a
good hill fort site. Step back in time, enjoy the views and fresh air, and
give your imagination free rein!
It’s been suggested that St Columba met King Bridei here in 565 AD. The finding of high status imported French pottery and other items on the site are evidence that this was an important centre in Pictish times.
Today, the ramparts are easy to see around the edge of the top of the hill. Imagine all the comings and goings as you explore the forest, with wide-ranging views through the trees, including to Ord Hill, another ancient hill fort just across the Beauly Firth.
Hill forts were both defensive strongholds and clear statements of land ownership and tribal belonging.
It’s been suggested that St Columba met King Bridei here. Columba wanted to negotiate safe passage for his monks when travelling through the Pictish kingdom. The account of his visit to the king, written 100 years later, describes the steep path up to the fort and the massive doors that sealed the entrance through the fort’s inner rampart. You can walk along the turf-covered remains of the defences around the edge of the hill top.
Inside was a large building – we are told that the king’s royal council were present when Columba met with them. Finds from various excavations have included part of a luxury silver feasting bowl, and imported French pottery. Although it is a quiet place today, we can imagine gatherings here, with much food and alcohol, music, comedy and occasional fights.
Craig Phadrig seems to have been abandoned during the 7 th century – its ramparts were destroyed by fire. But being able to link this site to an illustrious Pictish past is fantastic!
You can read excerpts from St Adomnan’s acccount of St Columba, telling tales of his visit to King Bridei and encounters with the king’s magician, Broichan, on
https://her.highland.gov.uk/Monument/MHG3809 along with other information on the site.
Accessibility and amenities
No entry fee
Amenities close by in Inverness
Less than 500m From Parking
Visitor car park and waymarked trails. Access to the hill fort itself involves some steep slopes and uneven ground. For further details see https://forestryandland.gov.scot/visit/craig-phadrig