The Highland Folk Museum: Experience Living History in the Scottish Highlands
No, I’m not at Goldilocks’ cottage and that’s not her hair hanging on the door. I’m exploring the Highland Folk Museum, Britain’s first open air (living history) museum, which brings the history of the Highlands back to life before your eyes. The Highland Folk Museum portrays daily life in the Scottish Highlands from the 1700’s to the 1960’s. And best of all, admission is free!
My favorite part was exploring the 1700’s township. The township includes four houses, two barns, and a weaver’s cottage. The four homes are reconstructions made out of stones with thatched roofs. Most are dug into the sides of the earth in order to conserve the heat in the cold Scottish winters. Exploring each of the four homesteads allows you to understand how difficult life must have been in the Highlands at that time. Fires were fed with peat, which makes the air pretty smoke inside, as you can see in the picture below. The majority of the family slept on straw mattresses, while mom and dad got a good night’s sleep (or not!) in a box bed. Yes, you read that correctly; people used to sleep inside a box, that’s much like a huge cupboard, with a door in order to keep warm. That doesn’t sound too comfortable! Head on over the barns where you can try out a quern, which was used to grind grain into flour, take a photo with some traditional farming implements, and make some new furry friends. The experience certainly made me even more grateful for the ease of modern living!
In addition to the 1700’s township, visitors can also explore a logging encampment, an expansive farm, and an open air village. The highlight of the logging encampment was the Victorian sawmill where you can see demonstrations of how felled trees were transformed into lumber using water power. The huge farmyard includes a farmstead house, a tin cottage, a barn, and a smokehouse. Surrounding the farm are other village buildings such as a post office and general store, where you can buy old fashioned penny candy. Yum! Strolling around the open air village, visitors can explore an early schoolhouse, traditional church, fascinating tailors and tweed store, vintage post office, joiner’s shop (where things were made of wood), quaint cottage, small summer house, and clockmaker’s shop. There really is something that will interest everyone in the family at the Highland Folk Museum, making it a wonderful afternoon or morning out.
Location of the Highland Folk Museum
The Highland Folk Museum is located on Kingussie Rd in Newtonmore, Scotland. It’s approximately one hour from Inverness or two hours from St. Andrews or Edinburgh. If you’re driving from Inverness or Aberdeen to St. Andrews or Edinburgh, the museum makes for a lovely half-day stop. That’s what we did. Click on the map below for specific driving directions.