History of Inveraray


The history of Inveraray and its buildings


A key feature of Inveraray is the significance of its location.  The existing conservation area encompasses the planned layout of the historic 18th century new town to the south of the castle, stretching southwards to take in Newtown, it is located at the foot of the Glen Aray, overlooking the River Aray on the western shores of Loch Fyne.  The distinctive identity of the town is its striking relationship to Loch Fyne and Loch Shira.

Planned Town

The survival of Inveraray’s planned formal layout is a very strong and significant feature of the conservation area.  The main axis of the town is north-south, A focus on a central crossing, the idea of point-de vue siting for important buildings and the presence of the Great Inn on Front Street were all introduced in the earliest plans, found in later revisions and exist intact today.  Buildings are traditionally set on the roadside with narrow tacks stretching out behind. This planned layout and the open spaces and circulation patterns it produces are key to the areas character.

Planned Landscape

Inveraray town itself is of course part of an important planned landscape, having been set out by the Dukes of Argyll in the 18th century.  The relationship the town has with the wider castle estate and the surrounding designated landscape is also a significant characteristic of the conservation area.


The vast majority of the buildings in Inveraray are of traditional masonry construction, finished in render with traditional slate roof.  Traditionally Easdale slates were used and stone was sourced from the duke quarries, or, for more prominent decorative elements Dumbarton free stone was used.  Harl white or near white was specified in the terms of the early “tacks” and it is documented (in the Inveraray Chamberlains Accounts) that Irish limestone was imported for the harl of the new houses “it being much whiter than  Carlunnand Lime. The design of timber windows and doors varies according to the status of the house.  Although some elements such as windows, doors and rain water goods were replaced in the 1960s, it seems that windows were replaced only where necessary so some buildings feature a mixture of historic and more recent elements.  A significant number of elements with historic value also exist amongst current shop fronts and much to the character of the conservation area.

Character and Appearance

The prominent use of black and white exterior painting regime, the similarities of building period and style and the linked archways unifies the town. There are vantage points such as the bridge across from the castle, looking to Front Street, which are particularly effective. The Church sits centrally within the town creating a vista from two directions and it’s recently restoration work has been a major bonus. Some other building however at close quarters have suffered staining from defective rainwater goods, which detracts from the townscape  and suitable maintenance is required to be carried out on these historic buildings..

20th C Interventions & Archival evidence

Inveraray was the subject of an intensive restoration program led by the architect Iain G Lindsay, between 1958 and 1963, when 64 homes were refurbished. Prior to works commencing only 13 of the 103 houses being considered had bathrooms and only 22 indoor sanitation, many roofs, joists, floors and partition walls were reported to be rotten. 

How can we keep Inveraray Special?

Inveraray is one of the first planned towns and has survived remarkably well in it’s original 18th Century street plan. It has many has many attractive and architecturally important buildings many of which are A Listed. The CARS grant scheme will encourage the enhancement of the conservation area. The aim is to nurture civic pride, to support traditional building skills in the local area and to install an ethos of maintaining the local built heritage for future generations to enjoy. By improving the town environment it is hoped that there will be further economic benefit of the town.

If you own or occupy a traditional building in Inveraray our guide suggests how you can contribute positively to the regeneration of the town and the improvement of your building.

Homeowners guide to repair and maintenance