The Orkney Museum
The Orkney Museum
This 16th-century town mansion in Kirkwall portrays life in Orkney from prehistoric times. Extensive displays explore prehistoric sites and artefacts found locally, plus domestic life exhibits and a plethora of information on local culture and customs. A good rainy-day stop! Formerly known as Tankerness House Museum.
Tankerness House was for 300 years the Kirkwall residence of the Baikie family, and some rooms have been furnished to show how the house might have looked when it was still a comfortable family home.

The family occupied the central block of Tankerness House, while the north and south wings were used as manses for clergy serving the cathedral. When the Reformation altered the social and religious landscape of Orkney life, the house was purchased by Gilbert Foulzie, the first Protestant minister to serve the congregation. In 1574 Foulzie built the ornate arched gateway that fronts the house, complete with his family coat of arms.

Our family visited the Orkney Museum partly to escape from a sudden downpour. But once inside we were captivated by the wonderfully evocative displays of local life and traditions. The museum covers the long history of the islands from the Stone Age, through the era of the Picts and Norse, up to the present day. There are plenty of hands-on activities to amuse and entertain younger visitors and a wonderful collection of old photographs.