Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is now Scotland's youngest city, a vibrantly growing community and the main destination for all tourists who seek their Highland roots or that more elusive creature - Nessie. Inverness's history, however, belies its peaceful present. Founded by Scotland's monarchs as a strategic outpost on a wild frontier, the royal burgh on the Ness has been caught up time and again in the struggles that mark Highland and British history. Over the centuries rebels against Lowland rule, the forces of Robert Bruce, followers of the Lord of the Isles, the English soldiers of Cromwell's army, and Jacobites have swaggered through its streets. Here, too, have come some of the great figures in Scotland's story - from Columba, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart to Johnson and Boswell. Through the troubles the merchants and burgesses struggled to make their town a pleasant, well-ordered community where commerce could flourish and the visitor would be welcome.
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James Miller lives near Inverness and contributes a weekly column to the Inverness Courier. His previous books include Scapa, Salt in the Blood, The Dambuilders and The North Atlantic Front. His Brimster Tales are published by Birlinn in May 2004.