One of our most popular exhibits is our recreation of Farquhar Macrae's shop in Melvaig, which includes the sign, shop counter, scales, and many original boxed items from shop stock . The last invoice for Mr Macrae, held in our archive, is dated 11th March 1949 and was from Kay Bros. (Warehouse) Ltd in Manchester for a variety of haberdashery items such as hair grips, safety pins, dress combs and shoe laces. The shop fittings and archival documentation mainly date from the 1940s, and some of the sweets pre-date the rationing period for confectionery which began on 16th July 1942.

The Gairloch Pictish stone is the symbol of Gairloch Heritage Museum and perhaps our best known exhibit.  It was the first Pictish symbol stone found on the West Coast mainland and the fact that it is composed of Torridonian Sandstone suggests that it was made locally.  The two symbols are of a salmon and part of an eagle.  Originally it had been thought that the bird carving represented a goose, but the legs and feet closely resemble those of an eagle on a similar stone at the Knowe of Burrian on Orkney.  It is thought to be an early Class 1 symbol stone as its irregular shape, and the lack of a Christian cross, suggests that it was carved between 500 and 700 A.D.  There are two different claimed histories for this stone.  The first suggests that it was found in 1948 at An Fhaoilinn, while foundations were being dug for new houses in Strath at the foot of the Manse Glebe.  The second, more plausible explanation is that the stone was found before 1871, close to a large cairn (Càrn Mòr) on the raised beach behind the present day Gairloch Primary School.

The 1875 Ordnance Survey map of Achtercairn (Achadh a’ Chàirn), the Field of the Cairn, shows the site of Càrn Mòr but does not show a standing stone.  This suggests that, by that time, it had been removed to Flowerdale House where it finished up, rather unceremoniously, being used as an outhouse step.  By 1954 the symbol stone had been moved to the Parish church and in 1964 the Rev. Macdonald had it built into the south wall of the new cemetery.  Finally, in 1977, the symbol stone was presented to the Gairloch Heritage Museum to ensure its safe preservation.

On display at Gairloch Heritage Museum is the Fresnel lens, gears and foghorn mechanism which was originally installed in Rudha Reidh lighthouse, located 12 miles along the coast from Gairloch. The lighthouse was automated in 1986, at which point the original mechanism was removed to the museum and a building constructed to house it.  The original drawings were made available and the building is a replica of the topmost floor of the lighthouse.  It contains the Fresnel lens made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham in 1912 - one of the largest ever made.

FLAG Project

In 2014 Gairloch Heritage Museum received funding from the European Fisheries Fund (via Highland FLAG) to pay for digitising our collection of fishing related objects and archival material, recording some oral history interviews and extending our displays to reflect the story of fishing in Gairloch in more recent years.  The funding was targetted at preserving Gairloch’s fishing heritage and increasing access to our collections.


Click here to see a selection of professional images of our objects and archival materials related to fishing (Images by John Clarke).

Gairloch Heritage Museum :   Achtercairn • Gairloch • Ross-shire • IV21 2BP • UK

Curator : Dr. Karen Buchanan (Thompson)

tel : 01445 712287

email :

Gairloch Heritage Museum is operated by Gairloch & District Heritage Company Ltd

 which is run by volunteers and is a registered charity no. SC010249