Ten things you (probably) didn't know about West Highland Museum, Fort William


10 September 2019
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From the story of a secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the reason for customs officers vandalised an exhibit, these ten fascinating facts about the West Highland Museum in Fort William are sure to amaze...

From the story of a secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the reason for customs officers vandalised an exhibit, these ten fascinating facts about the West Highland Museum in Fort William are sure to amaze...

  1. A milestone is within reach

The Museum celebrates its 100th birthday in 2022.Descendants of original founders Victor Hodgson and Elizabeth Ryan to this day are directors of the Museum.

  1. They can print their own currency

A copper plate made by Sir Robert Strange and intended to print currency for the Jacobites was discarded after the Battle of Culloden.

The plate on display was used to print “bank notes” in 1928 to raise funds for the Museum.Prints sold for 10/6 each.The Museum plans to print currency again to celebrate their centenary.

  1. Royal connections

Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland visited in 1991. She viewed objects associated with her great-great-grandmother including a quaich drank from by Victoria and purportedly used by Prince Albert and Bonnie Prince Charlie too.

  1. A room within a room

When the Old Fort was demolished to make way for the West Highland railway, the Governor’s room was moved in its entirety to the Museum.It is particularly popular with Outlander fans.

  1. Police saved a weapon

A rare 1st pattern FS fighting in the Commando exhibition was rescued by the Police. Handed in for destruction as part of a knife amnesty, it was spotted by an eagle-eyed officer who gifted it to the Museum.

  1. Customers officers vandalised an exhibit

An illicit whisky was left on the steps of the Museum by an anonymous donor in 1924. Sadly, it can no longer be used to distil a dram, as the folk from the Department of Customs and Excise punctured holes in it!

  1. A musical museum

From enchanted bagpipes said to have been played at Bannockburn, to pipes once owned by Bonnie Prince Charlies, to rare examples of the clàrsach.The museum promotes the musical heritage of the Highlands.

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  1. Jacobites are key

The Museum has closely been associated with the Jacobites since its inception staging its first Jacobite Exhibition in 1925.While plenty of museums claim to have relics associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie such as his hair and clothing, it is thought that the Museum is the only one to have a tooth on display!

The museum boasts a unique and rare collection of relics that includes a unique Secret Portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlies that can only be viewed through a mirror cylinder.

  1. It celebrates the Outdoor Capital

As Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William has long been associated with outdoor adventure activities.Nowadays the lochs offer some of the best white water canoeing in the country.This is nothing new, with the remains of a dugout boat dating back more than a thousand years in their collection.

Situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, the Museum has a close connection with mountaineering, climbing and the Model T Ford that ascended the Ben in 1911.

  1.  Home to a celebrated Highland collection

The Museum was chosen to care for the renowned Carmichael Collection.Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) was a famous folklorist and antiquarian who collected folklore, local traditions, natural history observations and material objects from people throughout the Scottish Highlands.

VISIT THE WEST HIGHLAND MUSEUM

The West Highland Museum is situated on the High Street of the historic town of Fort William. Open Jan-Apr 10am - 4pm; May-Sep, 10am - 5pm; Oct - Dec 10am - 4pm. Also 11am-3pm on Sundays in Jul & Aug.

Tel: 01397 702169, e-mail, website.