As the best-preserved and most complete example of a farming township, the buildings that make up Auchindrain are a Nationally Recognised Collection. The site is also Category A listed, and a Conservation Area.
About the Museum
A visit to Auchindrain is a unique opportunity to experience what life was like in the Highlands before the Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries.
It is the last remaining example of a farming township, a type of settlement that once existed throughout the Highlands, before their inhabitants were driven out and replaced first by sheep, and then later by deer. At Auchindrain, you can experience how the ordinary people of the Scottish Highlands lived and worked. Because of its remote location, deep in the beautiful hills of Argyll, the Clearances passed Auchindrain by. These days though, the museum is only a ten minute drive from Inveraray.
The township’s residents would have lived lives that were closely intertwined, working the land together. Land was held in common in those days. Rather than fields being owned by individual farmers, tenants were allocated narrow strips of land (‘rigs’) to plant crops on. As you explore the township, you can see this echoed in how the houses are laid out: the buildings are close together, at odd angles, to shelter those inside them from the icy Scottish wind. These buildings, which make up the museum’s Nationally Recognised Collection, have been preserved in an authentic condition - it as if the people who lived there have just popped out, and could be back at any moment.
Auchindrain is, in many ways, still a working farm, with sheep, chickens, and of course, Highland cows. If you’re lucky, you might see the fields being ploughed, catch a traditional craft demonstration, or experience a Travellers’ bowcamp during your visit. We also have occasional performances from groups demonstrating traditional Scottish crafts and songs. The museum’s staff are constantly carrying out conservation work at Auchindrain, thatching roofs, fixing drystone dykes (an old Scots word for walls), and constructing fences. There may even be an archaeological dig going on when you visit.
Auchindrain is not a traditional museum - you won’t find any glass cases here. The buildings and the landscape are our exhibits, and we try to present them in a way that reflects how hard life often was for the people who lived there. Tours are self-guided, using our innovative tablet guides, and paper guidebooks are also available in English, French and German. To fully enjoy what the museum has to offer, allow at least 60-90 minutes for your visit, and wear sensible shoes. Paths are made of traditional materials, and can be uneven.