The Fort Augustus Clamsman Centre stands beside the Caledonian Canal
The Fort Augustus Clamsman Centre stands beside the Caledonian Canal

The Fort Augustus Clansman Centre is a combination Celtic craft shop and interactive Highland museum, featuring live demonstrations by costumed actors dressed in traditional Highland garb, who give visitors a glimpse into traditional Highland customs and a way of life that has thrived in this area for hundreds of years.

The Clansman Centre features an exhibition of traditional and historical Highland customs, with presentations that recount old legends and clan folklore. The centre is housed in a 19th-century schoolhouse, but when you step through the doors you are stepping back in time to the 17th century, to a traditional Highland turf house.

A costumed guide shows how clan members ate, dressed, slept, and survived. Learn about clan traditions and culture, warfare and dress, in an entertaining, informative, and interactive experience.

The Centre could best be described as a living museum, with demonstrations including how to wield a claymore in battle to how to put on a belted kilt. There is an armoury of traditional Scottish weapons, including a targe (shield), claymore, dirk, sgian, and broadsword. Real (and very sharp!) examples of each weapon can be purchased in the shop.

On our last visit to the Clansman Centre, we had the chance to chat with the owner. He told us that since demand for the museum's live shows was intermittent (and generally in the summer months), the shows are now only offered on a pre-booked basis.

In practice, this usually means a group, generally tourists looking to get a better understanding of Highland life, book the museum ahead of time. Though individuals are welcome to join one of these pre-booked tour groups and watch a performance, the museum section of the Centre isn't usually open to individuals outside one of the tours.

Of course, everyone is very welcome to explore the shop and buy a traditional Highland souvenir; its just the museum part of the Clansman Centre that is only open by pre-booking.