Caithness Horizons
Caithness Horizons
Caithness Horizons s one of the premier museums in the north of Scotland. The museum is housed in the old town hall of Thurso, and attractive Victorian building just a short stroll from the harbour.
The interior of the town hall has been rebuilt to create a combination museum, gallery, tourist information centre, and cafe. There are two main galleries on the ground floor. One looks at the history of the Dounby nuclear site, and its impact on Caithness. There is a large collection of memorabilia about Dounby, including original newspaper reports and information on how the research carried out at Dounby has had a world-wide impact.

The other main gallery on the ground floor displays Pictish and early Christian carved stones. Among these are the remarkable Ulbster Stone, carved in the 8th century. The Ulbster Stone is unusual in that it has a cross carved on each face, rather than on just one. Along with the Christian cross symbols are a mix of traditional Pictish symbols including a V-rod, fish, hippocamp, crescents, serpent, and the bizarre 'Pictish beast'. The Ulbster Stone is thought to have more Pictish symbols than any other carved stone, and looking at it, that's an easy claim to believe. What is remarkable is just how clear and crips the carvings are, even after the passage of some 1300 years.

Displayed near the Ulbster Stone is the Skinnet Stone, also carved on both faces, and further early Christian cross-slabs.

The upper floor of the museum is taken up with displays of local history, and a special exhibit on the life and times of Robert Dick. Dick was a baker by trade, but also a self-taught geologist and botanist, whose work influenced some of the most important scientist in the early Victorian era.

Caithness Horizons produce an incredibly useful series of brochures on places to visit in Caithness, from brochs to standing stones, ancient cairns to wildlife habitats. I really enjoyed my visit and consider Caithness Horizons a 'must visit' stop if you're planning to explore Caithness.

Pictish carving on the Ulbster Stone
Pictish carving on the Ulbster Stone
The Ulbster Stone
The Ulbster Stone
10th century cross-slab from Canisbay
10th century cross-slab
from Canisbay