Gairloch Heritage Museum

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External shot of Gairloch Museum
Gairloch Museum

Gairloch Museum is an independent museum in the Wester Ross region of Scotland. The museum is located in the Highland village of Gairloch, in Achtercairn.

The museum was set up in 1977 by the Gairloch Parish Branch of the Ross & Cromarty Heritage Society.[1] This would later become the Gairloch & District Heritage Society and then the Gairloch & District Heritage Company Ltd.[2]

The former Gairloch Heritage Museum from the A832

They applied and were successful in converting part of the existing farm steading in Achtercairn to form a heritage museum and clubs rooms for members during the winter months for lectures, films etc. The year later they applied and were successful in converting the second wing of farm steading to extend the museum as the current building was too small to house the exhibits. The library extension was added in 1987 and an extension for the Rudha Reidh lighthouse lens in 1988.

The museum was created due to concern of possible damage to the growing collection of artefacts that had been donated by local people such as the Pictish Stone and thus they investigated means to protect it. The Company wanted to provide a wet weather facility for tourists for them to appreciate aspects of Gairloch’s past. Members of the Company were interested in displaying objects relating to archaeology, farming, fishing, and domestic utensils etc, those that showed the history of the West Coast.[1]

In 2017 the board of Gairloch Heritage Museum announced that they obtained a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund to transform a nearby nuclear bunker into a new museum for Gairloch. The museum board and volunteers raised £2.4 million to complete the project.[3]

The newly rebranded Gairloch Museum was officially opened on 9 July 2019 by the Princess Royal.[4] The museum is housed in the former Gairloch Roads Depot, which was previously built as an anti-aircraft operations room during the Cold War. The building also served as an Emergency Operations Room in the 1980s and the museum incorporates features of that period, including the heavy blast doors.[3]

In October 2020, Gairloch Heritage Museum was named one of the five winners of the 2020 ArtFund Museum of the Year Award.[5][3] ArtFund increased the prize money to £200,000 and changed the format of the award to five winners in response to the challenges faced by the museum sector during the Coronavirus Pandemic.[6]


The museum contains various displays and exhibitions which focus on the culture and social history of Gairloch parish. Displays include:

  • The Poolewe Hoard - a rare Early Iron Age bronze hoard found in Poolewe
  • The original Hyperradiant Fresnel lens from nearby Rua Reidh Lighthouse[7]
  • A Replica croft house from over 100 years ago
  • An ancient Pictish stone - the first and one of very few found on the West Coast of Scotland
    A photograph of the ancient Pictish Stone found at the Museum
  • Interactive displays on the natural history of the area.


  1. ^ a b "Past & future". Gairlochmuseum. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Staff & volunteers". Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Brown, Mark (12 October 2020). "Revamped nuclear bunker wins museum of the year award". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  4. ^ Henderson, Michelle. "The Princess Royal opens new £2.4million museum in Gairloch". Press and Journal. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Meet our winners". Art Fund. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020". Art Fund. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Hyper-Radial Lenses". United States Lighthouse Society. Retrieved 10 July 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°43′42″N 5°41′26″W / 57.7284°N 5.6905°W / 57.7284; -5.6905