Our region has born and raised many famous people over the years, from very different walks of life. Many have gone on to achieve fame and notoriety beyond their Highland home. Here are just five famous people from Inverness and Loch Ness to ponder. Two or three of which, just maybe, you have met or seen in the area.
First, there is the actress Karen Gillan. Most famous for her role in the TV series Doctor Who between 2010 and 2013. She recently played Ruby Roundhouse in the box office hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. And in 2018 she released her first feature film as director and writer called The Party’s Just Beginning. Born in 1987, she studied at the drama school, Italia Conti, where she was scouted by a modelling agency. But she has said she would not give up her acting career to return to modelling.
Our second famous person from Inverness and Loch Ness is the author Ali Smith. Dubbed as ‘Scotland’s Nobel laureate in waiting’, Ali Smith was raised on a council house estate in Inverness and went to Inverness High School. In 2005, her book ‘The Accidental’ was short-listed for the Man Booker prize. And again in 2017 she was shortlisted for the same award with ‘Autumn’.
Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat
Stepping back in time a few years, our next famous Invernessian is Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat. Born in 1911 at Beaufort Castle, Beauly, he is most famous as the first commander of the Special Air Service (SAS) formed in 1944. On D-day in 1944, he reputedly waded ashore in Normandy wearing a white jumper under his battledress. He also instructed his personal piper to pipe the commandos ashore, in defiance of specific orders not to allow such an action in battle. When the piper refused, citing army regulations, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”
Simon Fraser of Balnain
Stepping back even further in time, our fourth figure is another Simon Fraser! Born in 1729, Simon Fraser of Balnain was a British General in the American War of Independence, killed at the Battle of Bermis during the Saratoga Campaign. Perhaps we would not remember him quite so well today, if it wasn’t for Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander books and the TV series adaptation. Gabaldon portrays him as a kinsman to several of the major characters, most notably Jamie Fraser.
And finally, on our list of famous people from Inverness and Loch Ness. She’s not actually a person, but she’s certainly our most famous resident. The Loch Ness Monster! According to folklore, Nessie was first sighted back in the sixth century by Saint Columba. And who are we to argue!