About the Museum

The Museum of Lead Mining, is a Visit Scotland 4 Star Visitor Attraction set in the picturesque village of Wanlockhead, which at 461m / 1531 feet above sea level is the highest village in Scotland.

The village is set amid the Lowther Hills, directly on the Southern Upland Way just minutes from the amazing Mennock Pass, which offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland and only 8 miles from the M74.

Uncover our treasures including a real 18th century lead mine set deep in the hillside where visitors can experience the thrill of going underground. Make your way along village paths to the miners’ cottages and see how the miners really lived in the different periods of 1750, 1850 & 1910 before exploring the second oldest subscription Library in Europe, which has gained Recognition status as being a collection of National Significance. Enter the Visitor Centre to discover a fantastic display of rocks, minerals, gold, mining and local artefacts

Daily during our opening season you can search for hidden gold – Yes, Real Gold – by trying your luck at Gold Panning. Our enthusiastic and friendly guides will help to make your visit a day to remember.

If you are looking for a day out with a real difference then look no further than the Museum of Lead Mining at Wanlockhead.

The Lochnell Mine Experience

A guided tour of Lochnell Mine gives the visitor a vivid sense of what lead mining was all about - a job which separated the miner physically and, to a large extent, socially from the wider world in which he lived. It concentrated his undivided attention on winning a basic living for himself and his family in conditions, which were always physically dangerous and also hazardous to health.
It taught him, when at work to be dependent on the trustworthiness and comradeship of his mates and this special relationship coloured his leisure time activities too.
The entrance to Lochnell mine is at the south end of Williamson’s Drift. After passing through a timbered passage, the drift opens out and has an average height of 7 feet and a width of 4 feet.  

Straitsteps Cottages

The village of Wanlockhead has existed for over three hundred years. The first miners came to pan for gold and lived in tents through the summer months, but it was impossible to stay in the winter because of the severe weather conditions.

As Wanlockhead was an isolated place, many generations of the same families  lived and worked here. During the recessions in the lead industry, many of the families left to start new lives in Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and United States.

At the Straitsteps Cottages you can experience what it was like to live as a miner in the 18th and 19th centuries. One cottage depicts a cottage interior around 1750 and the second around 1850 with the third and final cottage at around 1910. The artefacts on show, illustrate how the people of Wanlockhead lived, worked and played. The tour guide will explain how the miners’ families lived during these two time-periods.

Museum of Lead Mining

Wanlockhead is recognised for its Miner’s Library, the second oldest subscription Library in Scotland and indeed Europe and was established ‘...for our mutual improvement.' on the 1st November 1756 with 32 men. The Library was funded by subscriptions from the Miners, but a contribution was also made by mining companies too in order to encourage ‘self-improvement’ in the miners.