News 2004 - 2007

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Highland Archaeology Fortnight - 29th September to 14th October 2007; there will be two for one admission throughout Archaeology Fortnight.

Treasure Trove Exhibition - 29th Sept - 14th Oct 2007; Treasure Trove explained along with a display of recently aquired items.

Touching Wartime History - Saturday, 29th September in St Duthus Collegiate Church - 10am to 5pm; see and touch objects found locally by metal detector Fergus MacCall. Fergus,a former explosives expert with the RAF, will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. You will also have the opportunity to try out a metal detector for yourself. 

D-Day Training in Scotland Saturday, 29th September in St Duthus Lodge Tain,  from 7.30pm - 9pm; an illustrated talk with Fergus MacCall.

Sun, Moon and Standing Stones Friday, 5th October in Tain Parish Church Hall - 7.30pm - 9pm with Douglas Scott; Douglas will present a DVD of, and talk about, his latest work in archaeo-astronomy.Tea and cakes after.

New Display Panels in the Museum - Thursday 14th June, 2007. In 2007 Tain & District Museum will acquire a new look as the old display panels (installed in 1989) gradually give way to new panels designed to give the museum a brighter look and to be more attractive to visitors. The first two panels were in place when we re-opened for the new season on Monday 2nd April. They feature the archaeology and pre-Medieval history of the area and have been largely funded by Highland Council's Museum Special Responsibility Fund. Some of the display cases will also be given a new look as the season progresses.

Show Scotland 07 - Pipes and Fiddles Concert - 4th May 2007; Tain & District Museum celebrated the Show Scotland 07 cultural activities weekend in style. The programme was opened by Tain Pipe Band P/M Jimmy Mackay and two of his charges in the band, Conner Mackay aged 12 and Ross Fraser aged 10. The high standard of their playing set the tone for the evening.

Gizzen Briggs, the Tain Royal Academy Traditional music group, followed. The accoustics in the church were such that it left both players and audience buzzing. Denis Macdonald, former chairman of Tain & District Museum Trust, had to admit to a tear in his eye as Katie Bremner played The Warren Waltz on her George Tennant fiddle. George is a maths teacher in Tain Royal academy and has made 10 fiddles to date.

Colin Innes continued the piping and gave a masterly performance. Duncan Macgillivray, former Battlefield Band member, Gold Medal winner and master piper closed the first half. After the break Lara Vickery of Gizzen Briggs played "Leaving Stoer" on the Torquil Macleod fiddle lent for the occasion by Brian Mearns. The rich, rounded tones that filled the Collegiate church illustrated the talents of both Lara and Macleod who made fiddles in Tain in the 1930's.

Duncan Macgillivray displayed exactly how the penny whistle should be played before Fred Morrrison, who had made the journey north from Renfrewshire, took to the stage. Fred went on to show why he is considered one the finest musicians playing today on the Scottish traditional and folk scenes. He gave performances on the Highland and border pipes and the low whistle, playing with passion and virtuosity to the delight of the audience.

The museum is currently exhibiting some of the work by Donald and Torquil Macleod as part of a display relating to fiddle making and piping in Tain, and is open Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm.


Antarctic Exploration Exhibition - September 2007; come to the Collegiate Church and see a display about Antarctic exploration, in particular featuring George and Alex Patience from Hilton and the part they played in the voyages of the research ship, Discovery II. The exhibition includes a selection of images from over 100 snaps taken in the Antarctic area.

Tain Mussel Shell Art Project; come to the Collegiate Church and see the final phase of the project entitled "CLEARANCE: The act of eliminating".This included two large panels made entirely of mussel shells by Blott Kerr-Wilson and some other surprises for you to see! There are also indivudal 'portraits' from  a project involving 6 schools and 300 Prmary School children using not only shells but also local 'waste' materials. The church is open Monday to Saturday- 10am to 5pm.

Tain and its Architectural Heritage - 30th July to 4th August 2007
The central features of this exhibition  held in the Collegiate Church, Tain, was based on research led by Hamish Mackenzie, devoted to the Maitlands and their works. There was also a DVD presentation using photographs by local cameraman Mike Herd which showed the best of Tain's architectural heritage. A model of the historic centre of Tain by Peter Whiteley and pupils of Tain Academy was also on display.

An Exhibition of the History of Tain Academy - 7th to 11th August; this exhibition of photographs, magazines, original scientific instruments and other memorabilia in the Old St.Duthac's [Collegiate] Church, Tain, covered many aspects of the history of the Academy including:

Rectors and their staff - Where did the money come from? - Medical and Missionary pioneers from Tain Royal Academy - Dux and prize medals - Illustrious former pupils- Original scientific instruments & library lists.

Books of old school photographs, admissions registers and First & Second World War records wer ealso be on display.

We worked in close co-operation with Tain Museum where  there is a display of additional items from their collection.

Friends of the Whithorn Trust; weekend event on the 15th and 16th September 2007 on the theme St.Ninian and the earliest Christianity in Scotland. There is a lecture on the 15th and a guided tour of the early Christian Stones on the 16th. For further details and bookings please phone the Trust on 01314677705.


Archaeology Fortnight - 6th October; Trust Chairman and enthusiastic amatuer archaeoligist Alistair Jupp produced a fantastic photographic display of archaeological sites in the area held in the Collegiate Church.

Tain Through the War Years; on the 26th of September the final event in our "Tain Through the War Years" exhibition was held. The evening of entertainment opened with the team,on whose memories the project was based, sharing a few stories with the assembled audience. We then had Mr Bob Holsman, a historical interperator, talk on subjects from the Home Guard to the 51st Highland Division.The evening continued with enthusiastic singing of wartime song led by Lydia Jackson on the piano and her two wonderful helpers. We finished off with a cup of tea and a cake (or two).

The following day Bob was busy entertaining and educating 120 pupils of Tain Royal Academy.

The Exhibition and events were made possible through the support of Leader Plus and H.I.E Inverness & East Highlands.


Ross and Sutherland Beaver Scouts celebrated their 20th Birthday with us on Saturday 23rd of September 2006. We invited them for a guided tour of the Pilgrimage and Collegiate Church. The Beavers were from Golspie, Lairg, Conon, Muir of Ord and Tain. As can be seen from their smiling faces a good time was had by all.

Clan Ross Visits; we had members of the Clan Ross visiting from all over the world. Some of their pictures are to be found on the Clan Ross page under Ross Stories.

In August we had a visit from Wallace Mackay and his sons all the way from America. Their ancestor, Donald Mackay left Tain in the late 18th Century.


On the 27th and 28th October 2005, the museum ran a World War II event for local primary schools as part of its developing education programme. A total of 7 schools and 140 pupils attended. They were entertained by Mr Bob Holsman, dressed as a Home Guard soldier.

Bob imparted an enormous amount of information about World War II to his audiences, which was extremely well received by all. After the taking of group photos the children spent some time looking around the specially prepared exhibition, covering Tain and District during the war years.

The exhibition was based on the work of a group of volunteers, namely Forbie Urquhart, Donnie Macleod, Paul Lippock, Wattie Loudon and Isma Munro, who have been meeting regularly to recall life in Tain and District during the 1930's and 1940's. They have also participated in a video of their memories. This will be made available to local primary schools soon.

Throughout the children behaved impeccably and were a real credit to their teachers. We all look forward to seeing them again as we continue to extend our education programme

Brochs of Scotland 3rd - 15th October 2005

Tain and District Museum offered a unique display of around 50 images of Brochs from various sites in the North of Scotland supported by text on the theme of "Forts or Farmsteads?" as our contribution to Highland Archaeology Fortnight.

Tain Through The Centuries Reprint - May 2005
May (projected date 19th May) saw the launch of a reprint of Tain Through The Centuries, the history of Tain commissioned by Tain Town Council as part of their 9th cententary celebrations in 1966. It was written by the late RW Munro, FSA Scot., an historian and journalist born in Ross-shire, and his wife, Dr Jean Munro (nee Dunlop), an Honours Graduate in History and Ph.D of Edinburgh University. These distinguisehd authors researched their book thoroughly, using many published and unpublished sources including both local and national records and consultations with local people. The resultant book remains the most comprehensive history of Tain ever to be written. Apart from a brief Foreword summarising the main changes and developments of the last 39 years and a new cover, this paperback reprint appears in the original form of the first edition.

In 10 chapters and over 40,000 words the Munros deal with Tain's physical setting and origins and trace its development from its early associations with St Duthac and Malcolm Canmore; from sanctuary and place of privilege through the unsettled times of the 11th-15th centuries; from the building of St Duthac's church and its establishment as a Collegiate Church to th Reformation; from ecclesiastical centre to pilgrim resort to a burgh administered by a Town Council within which trade, commerce and local craftsmen flourished; through the period of the Civil War (1639-51) and the Covenanters to the Union of the Parliaments and the consequent influence of politics both local and national. The main factors that shaped Tain's 19th and early 20th century development - the establishment of St Duthus Lodge of Freemasons, the birth of Tain Royal Academy, the Disruption out of which the Free Church emerged and the coming of the railway are also explored in detail. Throughout it all we are introduced to the people, the landed families and clans, who made it all happen and created Tain as it was in 1966.

This edition of a book which has been out of print for many years can be recommended to anyone who would like to know the history of Tain, be they newcomers to the town, Tainites who have, for one reason or another, had to quit the town of their birth, or descendants of people who left Tain much longer ago. However, there is much of interest in Tain Through The Centuries not only for people with Tain and Easter Ross associations but also for any one interested in Scotland's history generally.

Orders can be made by post, phone or Email and online from our website shop.

Can you help? April 2005
Among the museum's large collection of photographs we have some for which we cannot identify the people and places shown. We hope that they all have some sort of connection with Tain as they are in the museum, and many were taken by the Tain photographer William Smith.

In order to try and gather some more information about these photos, we have set up an "Unidentified Pictures" album in our Image Library. We will be adding pictures to this album over the next few weeks. Please take some time to have a look through them in case you can help us out. Any information will be gratefully received!


The plaque to town clerk David Ross in the collegiate church


Highland Archaeology Week - "History from the Grave" - 9th-17th October 2004; Tain & District Museum ran two related events as part of the programme under the title "History from the Grave": an exhibition in the museum based on the results of the survey of the graveyard around the collegiate church carried out during the 1990s, and looking at the wealth of information that can be extracted from such a survey. This will run all week (except Sundays) from 11am to 5pm; A walk round the collegiate churchyard to look at the history of burial in Tain and the stories behind some of the most interesting gravestones.


Museum shop - June 2004; the online museum shop opened- please click on the toolbar on the left and have a look around.

One of the items on sale is a resin miniature of the Hilton of Cadboll Pictish stone. The main part of the 9th century stone,which was originally located at Hilton some 10 miles from Tain,is in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The broken off base was discovered at the original site during a thrilling dig in 2002.The base is still at Hilton and you can find out more about it at

The range of goods available in the shop has recently been extended. Some of the things we sell on site at Tain Through Time, include local history books, some of which are difficult to obtain elsewhere, local maps, Clan Ross items, and Scottish crafts and gifts. We hope in the future to be able to offer prints of the pictures in the image library via the shop.

Hugh Ross teaspoon - May 2004; the museum acquired two new pieces of Tain silver from a Canadian donor, a teaspoon by Hugh Ross and salt spoon by Alexander Stewart. You can find full descriptions in the Objects section.


Tain Through Time Tower Street, Tain IV19 1DY Scotland IV19 1DY

Tel: 01862 894089