Culloden Viaduct

Location type


Name and dates

Culloden Viaduct (1898-)

Where: Highland, Scotland
Opened on the Inverness and Aviemore Direct Railway (Highland Railway).


This is the largest structure on the Highland Main Line between Perth and Inverness. Also known as Nairn, Culloden Moor, Leanach or Clava this viaduct crosses the River Nairn just to the south of the former Culloden Moor station. The viaduct is A listed. The engineer was Murdoch Paterson.

This is a double track width structure, although only one track remains, slewed to the middle. It has 29 masonry arches and is 1800ft (or 1785 ft, sources vary) long. Red sandstone was used for its structure with concrete foundations. From the north end there are 10 x 50 ft archies, then the largest arch which crosses the river and is 100 ft long and 118 ft high, followed by 18 x 50 ft arches. The largest arch has king pillars to either side. The viaduct is on a gentle curve and has the same gradient as the approaching line. It is the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland.

The viaduct was originally to be a girder viaduct. It was Sir John Fowler^s recommendation, as consulting engineer to the Highland Railway, that it be a masonry viaduct.

Tenders were requested by the Highland Railway in 1891. The contract for Millburn Junction to Culdoich (between Culloden Viaduct and Daviot) was awarded to Mackay & Mackay. Such was the cost of building the viaduct that the contractor was bankrupted in 1894. Charles Brand & Sons was the replacement contractor.

In 1897 the Highland Railway decided the Millburn Junction to Daviot section should be double throughout, this (doubling from Culdoich to Daviot), and the work on the viaduct, delayed completion which led to the line being completed and opened to Daviot from Carr Bridge while re-construction of the line to double track standard took place. The viaduct cost in excess of £70,000.

During construction a temporary way was laid across the valley floor west of the viaduct crossing the River Nairn by the Clava Bridge to bring in stone from Leanach Quarry.

Excursions from Inverness to the Culloden Battlefield Memorial and viaduct were arranged during its construction, such was the interest in its building.

The viaduct opened with the Inverness to Daviot portion of the line on the 1st of November 1898. This final link, entirely double track, completing the direct line from Aviemore to Inverness and replacing the round about route via Dava and Forres [2nd].

The line over the viaduct and south to Daviot was singled in 1968. The line north is a double track through the former Culloden Moor station and north west to Inverness.


The Clava Cairns are just to the west. Beyond these, further west, is the site of the Culloden Battlefield Memorial to the battle of 1746.


Viaduct River Nairn


Culloden Moor Viaduct Clava Viaduct Nairn Viaduct [Culloden] Leanach Viaduct

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67


Listing: A

Nearby stations
Culloden Moor
Castle Stuart Platform
Fort George [1st]
Fort George [2nd]
Clava Bridge
Leanach Quarry
Dalcross Timber Siding
Cradlehall Crossovers
Millburn Wartime Connection
Millburn Junction
Clava Cairns
Cumberland^s Stone
Culloden Battlefield Memorial
Dalcross Castle
Culloden House
Castle Stuart
Cradlehall House
Inverness Airport
Raigmore Level Crossing
Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.

A viaduct of many names

The Culloden Viaduct is known by several names:

Nairn Viaduct
- it crosses the River Nairn by its 100ft span. This is the name shown on Ordnance Survey maps. (Not an ideal name as there is also a Nairn Viaduct in Nairn.)

- Culloden House is about three miles north west. The modern housing was developed around it. This was the original name of Allanfearn station on the Inverness and Nairn Railway.

Culloden Moor
- the famous battlefield is to the west, visitors using the former Culloden Moor station to visit the Culloden Battlefield Memorial. (Alternative spelling Muir is also used.)

- nearby to the west on the north bank of the River Nairn. Stone for the viaduct came from Leanach Quarry.

- nearby to the west on the south bank and the name of the chambered Clava Cairns.


26/04/2000Inverness and Aviemore Direct Railway (Highland Railway)
Embankment partly washed out at several locations at the south end of Culloden Viaduct.