Welcome to the Heart of the Highlands
About 400 million years ago, the rocks that now form Scotland came together during an event called the Caledonian Orogeny. Prior to that event, most of what is now Scotland was attached to the North American and Scandinavian continent, separated from the rest of Northern Europe. During cataclysmic volcanic and tectonic activity around 60 million years ago, the North Atlantic came into being and the basic shape of today's Scotland (and the rest of the British Isles) was formed.
This was not the end of the tectonic activity. Scotland has many fault lines, the greatest of which stretches from Inverness in the East to Loch Linnhe in the West (the fault continues underwater out towards Ireland, and cuts through the south end of Mull) and is represented on the surface as The Great Glen. The fault is still active, minor earthquakes being recorded regularly as the northern plate slips very gradually toward the South West.
During the last major Ice Age, very heavy glaciation shaped the landscape we know today, scouring out deep U shaped depressions in the rock and forming the Lochs that are such a feature of the area. The largest and most famous of these is Loch Ness which, with an average depth over 700 feet and surrounding ridges rising some 800 feet more, is a testament to the power of the glacier that gave birth to it.
The Great Glen cuts the Highlands in two and has been inhabited since the Neolithic Era. It offers the only relatively easy communication between the East and West coasts, and this has been recognised over and again by those peoples occupying the land. In the present day it is the only East-West corridor with recognised routes for walking, cycling, travel by boat and by road (and previously by rail). Its importance in the historical, industrial, cultural, political and natural heritage both of the Highlands and of Scotland is unequalled.
Vikings, Jacobites, Covenanters. Saints, Generals, Kings, Queens. Engineers, Builders, Sailors, Fishermen. Authors, Poets, Painters, Musicians. And Nessie. All have played their part in the heritage of this, the most mysterious, the most magical and the most famous place in the world.
If you are interested in learning more of the history and heritage of our landscape, please read the other articles here or visit the sites run by our local heritage groups: Cill Chuimein Heritage Group and South Loch Ness Heritage Group.