The Highland Folk Museum | Review
Last week, my husband, our daughters, Jess (5) and Grace (20 months) and I stepped back in time to experience what life used to be like from the 1700s with a visit to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.
In a nutshell
This is predominately an open-air museum covering an amazing 80 acre site. They have over 35 historical buildings to discover how people in the Highlands used to live, work, go to school and enjoy their spare time. There are four main sections to explore – the working croft, the middle village, pinewoods and the 1700s township. Costumed staff and buildings filled with original artefacts and decor bring everything to life.
In addition to the huge variety of history they have:
-A fantastic café where you can pick up a snack, coffee & cake or a hot meal
-A play park which is perfect for the kids and ours loved it
-Plenty of animals to see as you explore the museum. We found horses, Highland cows, chickens and ducks.
-A gift shop filled with high end Scottish gifts plus plenty of options for the kids to pick up. Jess picked up a mood ring for £2.50 and Grace chose a bouncy ball for £2.00.
The kids loved Kirk’s Store, the 1930s sweetie shop. It is kitted out as an original store and is filled with packaging, signage and money from around that time. The best part is you can buy traditional sweets to take home. Our favourites were dolly mixtures, cola cubes and soor plums. Yum!
They also loved Daisy the cow (well that’s what we called her) A pretend cow within the farm area where you can sit and practice milking the cow. The cow is filled with water, and it goes into a bucket under her udders. A great activity and we had to drag the kids away from here.
My favourite part of the day was visiting Knockbain School. It was like being transported back in time and experiencing school in the 1930s. I could have stayed there all day. It is made up of a cloakroom, teachers’ room, toilet and classroom which can seat about 40. It is bursting with original furniture, books, maps, a school bell and even a card of hardened chewing gum chipped off the desks! When we visited there was a gentleman in costume at the front of the classroom talking about school life back then. This was so interesting and really brought the classroom to life.
1700s Highland Township
I couldn’t write this review without a special mention of the township. There are 9 structures in total and it has been founded from physical archaeological excavation, documentary research and practical experimentation. What a fantastic sensory experience! In addition to wandering around the dwellings you can enter each one, all are dark and cold inside and set up just as it would have been in the 1790s. There is peat burning on a fire which gives off a strong smell all around each building. Plus, costumes staff are on hand to explain all about the township and what life would have been like back then. Jess, our 5 year old couldn’t believe that they all lived in one room and that they shared a living space with their Cattle.
The hugely popular TV series, Outlander used the 1700s Highland Township in their filming, especially during series 1
Admission is FREE but they do accept donations to help keep the museum going. Don’t forget to add gift aid to your donation.
There was SO much to see and experience here. We spent the entire afternoon exploring each area and made good use of the playpark as well. I didn’t expect the museum to be interactive so that was a lovely surprise. It kept our 5-year-old entertained much longer than expected which is always a bonus. Staff and volunteers were friendly and engaging throughout our whole visit.
We learned that they host different events throughout the season such as traditional skills and historic re-enactments. We will definitely be back.
Thank you to the team at the Highland Folk Museum- keep up your brilliant work.
Find our more about the Highland Folk Museum here