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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 11:47

Fort Augustus

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Fort Augustus is a settlement in the Scottish Highlands, at the south west end of Loch Ness. The village has a population of around 646 (2001); its economy is heavily reliant on tourism.

Until the early 18th century the settlement was called Kiliwhimin, and the Gaelic name for the modern village is still Cill Chuimein. It was renamed 'Fort Augustus' after the unsuccessful Jacobite Rising of 1715. The accepted etymology is that the settlement was originally named after Saint Cummein of Iona who built a church there. Other suggestions are that it was originally called Ku Chuimein after one of two abbots of Iona of the Comyn clan, whose badge Lus mhic Chuimein refers to the cumin plant, or that it was called Cill a' Chuimein ("Comyn's Burialplace") after the last Comyn in Lochaber.

In the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising in 1715, General Wade built a fort (taking from 1729 until 1742) which was named after the Duke of Cumberland. The settlement grew, and eventually took the name of this fort. The fort was captured by the Jacobites in April 1745, just prior to the Battle of Culloden.

The actual fort was sold to the Lovat family in 1867 and in 1876 they passed the site and land onto the Benedictine order. The monks set up Fort Augustus Abbey from the fort and later constructed a school there, but abandoned the site in 1998. For several years after that it was owned by Terry Nutkins. He also owned the Lovat that stands on the site of the old Kilwhimen Barracks, one of four built in 1718. This houses the west curtain wall of the old Fort, intact with gun embrasures. The Lovat was originally built as the local Station Hotel.

The village was served by a rail line to Spean Bridge from 1903 until 1933, built by the North British Railway, but initially operated by the Highland Railway. The Caledonian Canal connecting Fort William to Inverness passes through Fort Augustus in a dramatic series of locks stepping down to Loch Ness.

The village is served by the Cill Chuimein Medical Centre.
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