Business case study - The Highlanders' Museum


The Highlanders’ Museum embodies the spirit of guts from across the Highlands and Islands – in its collection, location, staff, and recent redevelopment.


Located in the historic Fort George – one of the most outstanding fortifications in Europe and home of the Black Watch – the 5-star VisitScotland attraction is the only military museum in Scotland housed within a working barracks. Over 30,000 items commemorate over 200 years of history.


Research and Volunteer Coordinator, Katharine Neil, tells us more about the guts of this very unique Museum.

What does the Spirit of Scotland mean to you?

Two things come to mind immediately – our history and our people. It’s not just the amount of history there is in Scotland that makes it so significant to our spirit. It’s how rich, wild, dramatic, colourful and impactful it is. Scotland’s history is not simply a thing of the past. Its unique legacies – traditions, landscapes, peoples and cultures – are still here today and make us who we are. 


Despite a turbulent history, however, Scottish people are open-hearted, hospitable, helpful and humble. Not to mention humourous. That is key to our spirit.

Which one of the Spirit of Scotland values does The Highlanders’ Museum identify with?

The Highlanders’ Museum exemplifies the spirit of guts, in many forms. It’s in the people we commemorate, in the people we work with, and in the people who are managing and driving the Museum forward.

What about The Highlanders’ Museum makes you identify with this value?

First and foremost, the bravery and guts of the regiments commemorated in the Museum – the Cameron Highlanders, Seaforth Highlanders, Queen's Own Highlanders and their affiliated regiments. We represent over 200 years of history, dating back to 1778. The fighting men of the Clans in particular were renowned the world over for their hardiness and ferocity.


We have roughly 20,000 artefacts and an estimated 10,000 documents and photographs that cover conflicts including Waterloo, the Boer Wars, both World Wars, Korea, and Afghanistan, and much more. We also house more than 5,000 gallantry awards. That is a lot of guts.


We are the only military museum in Scotland housed within a working barracks – the historic Fort George. Working closely with the Black Watch stationed here, we are regularly inspired by the bravery and resolve of our active service personnel.


Many of our volunteers, board members and trustees are ex-servicemen or have military connections. Their experience and mettle are visible in their guided tours, research, advice and commitment to the Museum. One of our volunteers won the Marsh Award for Volunteering in Scotland in 2015.


Guts is also evident in our museum management. It takes guts to ‘gut’ a museum and start again taking the collections in a new direction. The venturesome determination shown in our recent £3 million redevelopment project is a very different type of guts to our military forefathers, but is guts no less. 


Guts banner


What do you do to showcase your spirit to your customers?

Our displays are the main way we showcase our artefacts and stories. We also try to ensure the collections are accessible to as many people as possible. We host events at the Museum, including for schools, local groups and cruise ships. We also have travelling and handling collections.


The Highland Military Tattoo at Fort George showcases Highland and military culture, tradition and guts. The Museum works with volunteers, partners and current servicemen and women to bring this to life through re-enactments, music and more.  


We are increasingly using social media and going forward will engage with VisitScotland’s Spirit of Scotland online campaign to highlight our spirit of guts – past and present – using the hashtag #ScotSpirit.


We’ll also be encouraging visitors to tell us about their #ScotSpirit: be that researching their ancestors in our archives; the warmth of a wedding at the Museum; or even the fun of watching dolphins from the ramparts outside the Museum! We look forward to hearing about, and helping create, more #ScotSpirit stories.


Delivering for tourism Image of front cover of document VisitScotland activity highlights VisitScotland activity
Working for Us VisitScotland employees Job vacancies at VisitScotland Vacancies
Holidays in Scotland People Link to VisitScotland's Holiday site Holiday Information