Side drum of the Strathspey Fencible Regiment, c.1794. This rope-tensioned side drum was manufactured by Robert Home, drum maker to His Majesty’s Office of Ordnance, at the Drum and Colours, 20 Barbican, London, for Sir James Grant’s newly raised Fencible regiment. The present ropes are replacements. Drums of this type were essential instruments in the army; each company had two drums. They were used to signal commands and to beat the charge. Its rhythmic beat was also admirably adapted for regulating the movement of soldiers on the line of a march. The least pleasant duty of the drummer was to beat the time for punishments, a lash to a drum beat; indeed, it was often a young drummer who was made to inflict the first lashes. After 1751 drummers wore a regulated, distinctive dress. They were ordered to wear coats of the regimental facing colour, trimmed with lace. They wore fur caps, similar to those worn by grenadiers and pioneers, but bearing drummers’ front and back-plates. From the Seafield Collection. On loan courtesy of National Museums Scotland.

Fort George

Fort George is the finest example of 18th-century military engineering anywhere in the British Isles, though the army base never fired a shot in anger. Today, the fort would cost nearly £1 billion to build and equip.

Strategically located on a promontory jutting into the Moray Firth, the army base was designed to evade capture. Fort George was built on a monumental scale, making use of sophisticated defence standards, with heavy guns covering every angle.

The boundary walls of the fort housed:

  • accommodation for a governor, officers, an artillery detachment and a 1,600-strong infantry garrison
  • more than 80 guns
  • a magazine for 2,672 gunpowder barrels
  • ordnance and provision stores
  • a brewhouse
  • a chapel

Countering the Jacobite threat

The Jacobite Rising of 1745–6 proved to be the last attempt by the Stuart dynasty to regain from the Hanoverians the thrones of Scotland and England and Wales.

Fort George was one of the ruthless measures introduced by the government to suppress Jacobite ambitions after the nearby Battle of Culloden. It was intended as the main garrison fortress in the Scottish Highlands and named after George II.

Architecture of warfare

Lieutenant-General William Skinner was the designer and first governor of Fort George.

He mapped out the complex layout of:

  • ramparts
  • massive bastions
  • ditches
  • firing steps

Defences were heavily concentrated on the landward side of the promontory – the direction from which a Jacobite assault was expected. Long stretches of rampart and smaller bastions protected the remaining seaward sides.

An active army base

Later in the 1700s, when the Jacobite threat was over, the fort became a recruiting base and training camp for the rapidly expanding British Army. Many a Highland lad passed through its gates on his way to fight for the British Empire across the globe.

Between 1881 and 1964, the fort served as the depot of the Seaforth Highlanders.

Fort George is currently the home of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS).

Find out more about Fort George


Date Made
Circa 1794
453 x 452mm
Property Information
Fort George
Object Number
Access Status