Our Museum is the starting point on a journey through the colourful historical themes of the area. It provides the visitor with a wealth of information about past ways of life and some of the more turbulent events in Sutherland’s history. It combines local stories and folklore from the past and present with a multi-faceted collection of objects spanning thousands of years.
The museum’s illustrated timeline will amaze visitors with its Worldwide and Helmsdale facts. The illuminated Borrobol Stone, so called because it was discovered on the Borrobol Estate in the Strath of Kildonan, illustrates the art of the enigmatic Picts, prehistoric inhabitants of the area. You can interact with the people who lived at the time of the Clearances at the start of the nineteenth century, when thousands of the inhabitants were removed from their homes in the Strath to make way for large sheep farms. Collect your character card from Reception and see the story unfold from the point of view of Duchess or Tenant, Factor or Minister, or even a lowly sheep! The rise and fall of the fishing industry at Helmsdale and the development of crofting as a way of life continues the story and you can see some of the finds from our excavation at the settlement of Caen on display which formed the basis of the virtual world of Caen in the Storytelling room.
The storytelling room also has a selection of five animated films about the area’s myths, legends and superstitions. The younger visitors can meet our own last wolf and find out why Helmsdale fishermen were so superstitious! Transport yourself back to the time of the Vikings with the story of Frakkok, learn about the tale of two dogs and what life was like living in a croft in Gartymore.
The virtual world of Caen can be entered here. You can take the guided tour or go exploring on your own to see what the township of Caen might have looked like in the days before the clearances. Come through the door of a reconstructed longhouse and meet the people of this settlement as they went about their daily tasks.
The museum’s reconstructed croft, byre, smithy, and shop from 150 years ago capture many aspects of a way of life – now long gone. The younger museum visitors can enjoy colouring in, quizzes and puzzles and a selection of clothes for dressing up as characters from the time of the Kildonan clearances.
Visitors to the museum can access further information on any of the displays in the Timespan community archive.