West Highland Museum
West Highland Museum
Set in the historic heart of Fort William, this small museum boasts displays on local industries, the Caledonian Canal, and the Jacobite rebellions.
The museum covers the rich history of the West Highlands, starting with the 'fort' of Fort William itself. The Fort display is set in a fascinating room built from wooden panels rescued from the governor's room at the fort. Among the objects on display are rather unpleasant thumb-cuffs, used to incapacitate a prisoner.

The Jacobite Collection
Not surprisingly, one of the largest exhibits at the museum covers the Jacobite cause. The museum has a very large collection of items related to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his failed rebellion in 1745. See clothing, glass, furniture, Jacobite miniatures, and a fascinating 'secret portrait' of Prince Charlie that could only be seen when reflected in a viewing cylinder or a goblet of wine.

Other Jacobite relics include Bonnie Prince Charlie's waistcoat, sword, jacket, bonnet, even shoe buckles. One sad exhibit is the prince's death mask. There is also a handmade fan, produced in September 1745 for a ball at Holyrood to celebrate the Jacobite capture of Edinburgh. These fans were painted on paper, mounted on Chinese ivory sticks, and handed out to all ladies in attendance at the ball.

There is far more to see at the museum than Jacobite paraphernalia. There is a huge array of artefacts from the rich cultural heritage of the West Highland region. See charms used by local residents, and brooches thought to keep evil spirits at bay. One fascinating exhibit is The Appin Gun, thought to be the rifle used to kill Colin Campbell of Glenure in a celebrated murder case in 1752.

There are large collections on the military presence in the Highlands after the Jacobite rebellions, archaeological finds from the area, and a very large collection of Victoriana. See a 'beetle-wing' dress made in India for the daughter of a crofter from Skye. One popular item is a brooch worn by John Brown, Queen Victoria's personal servant. The brooch is part of a set given by the queen to Brown on the occasion of her fourth daughter's wedding.

The museum houses a very large archive of books, many on Highland folklore and literature, plus games, pastimes, and sporting equipment.