Museums

Alness Heritage Centre in Alness, Easter Ross. As in Invergordon the local coastline played an important role in protecting the mainland in WWI and WWII. The heritage centre also demonstrates the part played by Canadian and US allied troops. More info

Caithness Horizons, Thurso, Caithness, right on the north coast. Lots of social history here including aural recordings of the local dialect, a display featuring the Dounreay Nuclear Research history, the Robert Dick Herbarium (Dick, a local baker and naturalist supplied the early geologist Hugh Miller with rock samples for his collection); the museum also houses some intricately carved (early medieval) Pictish Stones. More info

Baxter’s Highland Village, Fochabers, Morayshire, with its charming old-world museum of a grocer’s shop.

Culloden Visitor Centre, less than 20 minutes drive east of Inverness: a MUST for OUTLANDER fans; excellent displays, film evoking the likely sounds and scenes of the battle; interactive displays, detailed maps and dioramas, large shop and café/restaurant, elevated walkway to give ticketholders a view of the battlefield or you can walk round the Battlefied. More info

Dunbeath Heritage Centre, Caithness: excellent museum with interesting archaeological display, good book shop and focus on the famous local writer Neil Gunn (1891-1973) who wrote movingly about Highland life at the time of the Clearances; less well known is his interest in zen. Would combine well with visit to Dunbeath Harbour to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery. More info

Highlanders’ Museum, Fort George: military museum on the Morayshire coast, east of Inverness (would combine with visiting Culloden battlefield, Clava Cairns and/or Cawdor Castle/Gardens). Threatened by closure, this might well be your last chance to visit this interesting museum which affords great views over the Moray Firth. Accommodation and good food in an Ardersier Hotel where officers used to be billeted. Further info

Highland Archives Centre located on the margin of Inverness town centre on the banks of the river Ness: a modern building housing ancient maps and books – a must if you are researching your ancestors. The centre can provide you with genealogical services, but we can also put you in touch with genealogists ourselves.

Highland Folk Museum, located at Kingussie, Cairngorms National Park. Reconstruction of vernacular architecture from before the Highland Clearances; collections illustrating the social conditions and rural way of life in the Scottish Highlands from the 1700s up to the mid 1900s. More info

Highland Museum of Childhood, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire, west of Dingwall. Located on the disused railway station platform which has its own interesting history. Great place to get insights into childhood joys and woes over the past 150 years. There’s a very good little café next-door. Accommodation and food available in local hotels and hostelries. More info

Hunterian Museum, Glasgow, zoology and art including the Mackintosh House, of particular interest to devotees of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s work and the timeless designs by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, his wife. More info

Invergordon Museum in Invergordon, Easter Ross. Busy sea port for the British Fleet (WWI) and the British Air Force (WWII) in the early and mid-20th century. The museum tells the tragic story of HMS Natal which came to grief in the Cromarty Firth in 1915 and various other interesting displays and exhibits. A warm welcome by volunteer guardians, clean facilities and occasionally a craft fair. More info

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery in the centre of the Highland capital. The museum is a treasure trove for people who want to explore life at the time of Macbeth, learn about the Ardross wolf (featured in the Book of Kells) or wrap themselves in the Philibeg (garment worn in ancient times). There’s also an OUTLANDER connection and a display of the botanical emblems of many clans. More info

Laidhay Croft Museum, 19th c. cottage, Dunbeath, Caithness: 200 year old typical example of Caithness croft dwelling – a rush-thatched longhouse, furnished in the old style and brimming with artefacts. Located next to a nice little tearoom. More info

Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, at Drumnadrochit, not far from Urquhart Castle. A must for Nessie fans. It takes about 45 minutes to go from room to room with audio-visual displays including videos about fact, fiction and legends regarding Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. More info

Mary-Ann’s Cottage, Dunnet, north coast of Caithness (would combine with visits to Dunnet Head Lighthouse and Canisbay Church). A treasure trove of crofting implements and buildings, including the rooms last inhabited by Mary-Ann Calder in the 20th century. Fascinating insights into 19th c. crofting life. Far from the madding crowds and well worth seeing. Further info

Museum of Transport/Riverside Museum, Glasgow: an astonishing feat of modern architecture, designed by Zaha Hadid; the building boasts a collection of motor cars, trams, an old sailing ship (on the Clyde) and historical displays illustrating Glasgow’s leading role in the development of the railway and shipbuilding industries. Good café/restaurant and shop. More info

National Museum, Edinburgh, most popular museum in Scotland: a fabulous repository of Scottish creativity in a vast array of fields: from fabulous Pictish Stones, silver treasure trove and the Lewis Chessmen to early engineering, and the amazing artwork of the Millennium Clock which puts on a thought-provoking kinematic show every hour. Tearoom and a restaurant, lifts/elevators and toilet facilities in a modernised 19th c. building. More info

Skye Museum of Highland Life (see Islands), would combine with visit to Flora MacDonald’s memorial. More info

The Orkney Museum, Kirkwall. In town centre opposite Kirkwall Cathedral. Tells the story of Orkney, from the Stone Age to the Picts and Vikings, right through to the present day. Large collection of antique photos and activities to amuse younger visitors. The Museum’s collection is of international importance and it has a changing temporary exhibition programme. Housed in a historical building. More info

The Writers’ Museum Edinburgh celebrates the lives of three major Scottish writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Many a contemporary Scottish writer (e.g. Gray, Lochhead, Rankin, Rowlings, McCall Smith) was inspired by their works, but their museum has yet to be built. More info

Timespan Museum and (contemporary) Arts Centre, Helmsdale, east coast of Sutherland. The collections feature Highland life and geology, Kildonan Gold Rush. Recent research into ganseys – fishermen’s jerseys identifying their home port. Auro-visual display illustrating Gaelic church services. Fascinating new Cine Project. More info. See also the memorial statue at Helmsdale commemorating the Highland Clearances

Wardlaw Mausoleum, in Kirkhill, 8 miles west of Inverness and just a few minutes drive from Beauly (would combine with visit to Beauly Priory and a coffee stop at the local deli or a meal/overnight stay in one of the local hotels.Important destination for members of Clan Fraser (members commemorated in this mausoleum) and aficionados of OUTLANDER films and novels. The mausoleum’s curator is very knowledgeable in Jacobite history, the story of the Old Fox and his relevance to OUTLANDER– advance booking essential. More info

West Highland Museum, Fort William, on the Atlantic coast (would combine with trip on Aonach Mor funicular railway or a trip on the steam train to Mallaig where we can pick you up). The museum’s collections feature the fort, archaeology, military artefacts, the Jacobite Rebellion, Victoriana and Highland Life. More info

Wick Heritage Centre,in the old Pulteneytown part of Wick. If you want to hear about the herring boom and the herring girls, this visit is a MUST for you (would combine with visit to Old Pulteney whisky distillery). Pulteneytown was the world’s first custom-built industrial town – complete with harbour, iron foundry, shipyard, sailmaking, ropemaking, fish processing including curing sheds, and a cleverly designed town for the fisherfolk by Thomas Telford. More info. You will be captivated by the antique photographs in the Johnston Collection.

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