Friday, June 2, 2017

Scotland: Highland Folk Museum

Our next AirBnB was down in Newtonmore, so after spending the middle of the day on Cairn Gorm Mountain, we stopped at the open-air museum on the edge of town. Entrance is free, but since it costs them 11 pounds per visitor to pay their actor-interpreters and keep up the grounds, we went ahead and donated 10 pounds each, plus 5 pounds for the guide book. The weather mostly held out for us as cool and gray, with only a smattering of light rain toward the end of our three-hour visit.

(A week's rations in Britain during WWII.)

The Highland Folk Museum is a mile-long stretch of land to which a number of old buildings have been brought. On one end is an animal farm, complete with nicer and shabbier farm houses. (See Dear Husband milking Bessie, above.) There's also a vehicle garage from the interwar period and a house that trebles as middle-class parlor, sweet shoppe, and post office. In the middle is a town c. 1930, with a school, a church, a tailor, a clockmaker, etc. The school was the very last place we stopped, shortly before closing time, and when the schoolmaster reprimanded us for being late, at first we thought he was playing his part, but really he wanted us to know that the place was closing! Our AirBnB hostess sometimes plays a schoolmarm there.

Above is the table in the little shepherd's hut; below is the stone paddock for sorting sheep brought in from the pasture for shearing, dipping, or other procedures.

Here's the counter of the little post office.

A short walk through the woods gets you to an eighteenth-century village of wattled dwellings with thatched roofs. The houses, barns, and drying kiln were sturdy structures, but the insides were dark and smokey. I readily understood what a dirty existence it must have been. There were two actors present while we were there, but the man didn't seem interested in conversation, and the woman ran off to intercept a couple who were trying to trespass onto neighboring land.

It was a neat experience. The 20th-century presentations looked pretty familiar to our American eyes, but the 1700s settlement was new and different. I'm glad we went, even though I hadn't been expecting to pay money for it.

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