Category Archives: Scotland

The Highland Folk Museum: Experience Living History in the Scottish Highlands

Highland Folk MuseumNo, 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 Highland Folk Museumopen 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 Highland Folk Museumat 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 Highland Folk Museumstraw 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!

Highland Folk MuseumIn 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.

Glamis Castle: Birthplace and Residence of British Royalty in Scotland

Glamis Castle was the childhood home of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Glamis Castle GardensQueen Mother, and the birthplace of Her Royal Highness the late Princess Margaret.  The Queen Mother’s parents were both Lord and Lady Glamis and Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Glamis Castle has been the seat of the Lyon Family since 1372, and many larger than life figures have stayed at the castle, including Mary QueGlamis Castle en of Scots and King James I.  Today’s visitors tour the beautiful and historic state rooms, including the royal apartments of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II’s parents), and hear the story of the murder of the Scottish King Malcolm III who died at that castle in 1034. He was succeeded by his son Malcolm who was, in turn, killed nearby in battle by his cousin Macbeth.  Sound familiar? These local historical events inspired Shakespeare to make Glamis Castle the legendary home of Macbeth.

Glamis Castle is considered to be one of the most haunted castles in all of the United Kingdom.  One of the specters who Glamis Castle lives at the castle is a pageboy who sits outside the late Queen Mother’s sitting room.  According to medieval legend, on one of the coldest nights of the year, everyone went to bed but forgot to dismiss the little boy from his seat.  He supposedly froze to death there, and it’s said that his ghost frequents the spot and likes to trip people who walk by. Another ghostly tale at the castle involves a secret chamber in which the second Lord of Glamis and his enemy were playing cards and gambling all through the evening and late into the night. After being begged to stop by servants, who were worried that it was the Sabbath, the two lords supposedly brushed them off by saying, “iGlamis Castle Gardensf we have a mind to, we shall play until Doomsday”.  The next morning a stranger appeared at the castle to confront them, and many claimed it was the devil himself who told them that “doomsday has come for both of you“ and took their souls. Tradition states that if you listen at the walls of the secret room at midnight on Saturdays you can hear the two lords crying and shuffling their fateful deck of cards. Perhaps, the most pitiful ghost at Glamis is the Grey Lady who is said to haunt the chapel. She was the wife of the sixth lord of the castle and died after being victimized by King James V of Scotland, who hated her family and wanted the castle for himself.  The king had her two young sons imprisoned and had her tried for, convicted of, an executed for witchcraft. She was burned alive at the stake in 1537, and since then, has been seen entering, sitting, and praying in the castle’s chapel. The Grey Lady is the most frequently seen spirit at the castle.


If you visit Glamis Castle, be sure to stop and spend some time with the adorable Highland cattle located near the car park.

Location of Glamis Castle

Glamis Castle is located just outside the village of Angus, Scotland, approximately 20 minutes from Dundee, 45 minutes from St. Andrews, or 1.5 hours from Edinburgh.  If you’re traveling between Aberdeen and Edinburgh or if you’re spending time in St. Andrews, Glamis Castle makes an excellent stop or a lovely side trip for a few hours.  For specific directions to Glamis, click the map below.