Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment in stunning detail
Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment in stunning detail

Military treasures are preserved at Stirling Castle

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum at Stirling Castle has offered a sneak peak of its multi-million-pound renovation ahead of reopening to the public this week.

The museum embarked on a lengthy transformation project in September 2018 to ensure its historic military legacy was preserved for future generations.

Now, for the first time in almost three years, staff have opened the doors allowing a stunning glimpse of the new-look museum which will officially reopen to the public on Wednesday 30 June.

Home to a wealth of military treasures and artefacts, the museum brings the rich culture and heritage of one of Scotland’s great Highland regiments to life. The museum weaves a rich tapestry, connecting the Regiment to the local communities around Scotland from where its soldiers and their families came from.

Through its thematic approach, the museum aims to engage with audiences of all ages and knowledge, offering something for everyone.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment in stunning detail (Photo: Alan Peebles)

With more than 5,000 objects in the Museum’s collection, many of the artefacts and displays cover the fascinating history of the Regiment. From its involvement in numerous global conflicts and insight into what life was like as a serving soldier and its impact on family life, to incredible personal items donated to the museum – some with astonishing and poignant stories.

All renovation work has been carried out with meticulous care to protect, conserve and compliment the archaeology of the King’s Old Building which dates from the late 14th Century and is believed to be one of the oldest structures still standing at Stirling Castle.

Work has included opening up the original vaults on the ground floor, creating a new floor to house museum displays and improved access via a new central stairway. The galleries have been created with engaging storyboards and displays to show off the nationally recognised collection of artefacts, silver and original artwork, together with fascinating audio-visual displays. Conservation standard display cases and eco-friendly lighting have been installed to meet modern museum standards.

Project director Colonel A K Miller said: ‘This project has taken nine years to plan and deliver. With the loss of Scotland’s historic regiments, it is important to ensure this unique element of our history is not lost. Throughout their tour, visitors will find themselves immersed in Scotland’s proud military and cultural heritage.

‘We are very grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund together with many other donors, large and small, who have helped deliver this ambitious project. It could not have been achieved without the support of Historic Environment Scotland and we look forward to working in close partnership with them in the future.’

The museum pays particular attention and tribute to the links between the regiment and communities around Scotland where its soldiers came from (Photo: Alan Peebles)

Richard Hickson, CEO of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, said: ‘We approach an incredibly important achievement as we prepare to reopen our doors after almost three years of hard work.

‘Setting itself against the broader history of Scotland, our museum tells a fascinating story covering significant periods in Scottish history. From the Highland Clearances and the industrialisation of West-Central Scotland to shipbuilding and engineering on Clydeside, we have brought to life the activities of the Regiment’s soldiers and their families, both in Scotland and across the globe.’

The museum operates as part of a partnership agreement with Historic Environment Scotland, who run Stirling Castle and have supported the refurbishment through grant funding and conservation work to help upgrade the site and visitor offer, as well as providing additional support in areas such as educational activities and on-site interpretation.

Alex Paterson, chief executive at Historic Environment Scotland, said: ‘We are pleased to see the museum ready to reopen its doors after what has been a sizeable endeavour to reimagine and retell the story of The Argylls.

‘The Argylls are a key part of the fabric and story of the castle, which spans many hundreds of years, and we are delighted to have been able to support this work both through grant funding and the contribution of expert staff across the organisation to whom I’d like to express my thanks.

‘We very much hope that visitors enjoy the opportunity to find out more about those who shaped its history, as it gets set to welcome visitors once more.’

Richard Hickson, CEO of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum, Rod Mackenzie, Curator, Allison Spark, Project Collections Officer and Colonel AK Miller, Project Director. (Photo: Alan Peebles)

Caroline Clark, director for Scotland, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: ‘This revitalised museum tells the fascinating and moving stories of the individuals involved in the Regiment through exploring themes such as the impact of warfare on medical development, the Highland Clearances and, importantly, the wider community surrounding the Regiment such as forces’ families.

‘We are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, this internationally important regimental and social history has been conserved and opened up for all to experience.’

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum is a charity and relies almost entirely on donations.

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Museum is located in Stirling Castle which was the Argylls’ depot from 1873 to 1964 and remains the Regiment’s spiritual home.