Highland Folk Museum
Highland Folk Museum
This fascinating museum was the very first open air museum in mainland Britain and includes traditional Highland buildings brought here from across the north of Scotland, including a black house, clack mill, and a school house.
This award-winning visitor attraction shows how people lived, learned, worked, and played throughout the long history of the Scottish Highlands. Learn about Highland culture and how life has changed from the 18th century to the present day. There are often costumed characters on the site, showing how people lived and giving demonstrations of traditional crafts.

In 1944 Dr Isobel Grant opened a museum of Highland culture at Kingussie, in the Cairngorms. The museum brought together not only a vast array of cultural material from traditional Highland life over the centuries but acted as a home for traditional buildings, many saved from destruction, taken down, and re-erected on the museum site.

In 1995 the museum relocated to the edge of Newtonmore, where the collection of historic buildings has grown.

The historic buildings represent a wonderful array of Highland life, from a traditional Isle of Lewis blackhouse to a school building made of corrugated iron from Kirkhill near Inverness. The school is completely furnished inside to reflect how it looked in 1937.

Knockbain School, (c) Paul Hermans
Knockbain School, (c) Paul Hermans
Baile Gean Township
Perhaps the star of the show is a complete Highland township moved here from Easter Raitts, in the Spey Valley and re-named Baile Gean, which translates as 'Township of Goodwill'. The township spans the period from the later Middle Ages through the 18h century and is presented as it would have looked in the year 1700. These crofting buildings were made with timber cruck-frames, and earth walls atop a stone foundation, with a thatched roof. Peat fires burn inside some of the houses, and livestock wander among the buildings.

Here you can see a weaver's house, barn, stockman's house, cottar's house, kiln barn, pigman's house, and much more, laid out as they would have been in their original home.

There are other fascinating buildings including a 1930s croft house, a replica of the hut used by the Newtonmore curling club, standing beside a curling lake. Then there's a sawmill building from Ardverikie, and a complete Traveller's encampment with washing hung out to dry.

One striking building is a corrugated iron and timber church brought from Leanach, on the Culloden Battlefield. This fascinating building was erected from a kit in 1900. It was declared redundant in 1980 and was moved to Newtonmore in 1987.

See a shinty pavilion, the old post office from Glenlivet, a smokehouse, shepherd's bothy, and a farm steading. See workshops used by traditional tradesmen including clockmakers, tailors, smiths, and joiners.

The wonderful thing about the Highland Folk Museum is that it continues to grow and add more rescued buildings, reflecting the traditional Highland way of life.

Images are copyright as noted and are republished with gratitude under a Creative Commons license