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The impact of the changes in attitudes towards, and interest in, the Highlands that took place during the reign of Queen Victoria cannot be underestimated. The growth of the rail network in Scotland, the wealth pouring into the country from the colonial empire and the importance of its cities as centres of concentrated military, industrial and intellectual excellence and power, saw its perception in the eyes of the world altered significantly.

The Highlands during this time became a fashionable place to visit for the old and new wealthy, partly due to Victoria’s fondness for Balmoral, partly due to the romanticisation of the region through the novels first of Walter Scott, then Robert Louis Stevenson and others.

A significant proportion of the West Highland Museum’s collection dates from the late eighteenth to early twentieth century, much of which belong specifically to the Victorian period. Choose a picture and click ‘Read More’ for some examples.


Beetle Wing Dress

Natural Beauty: The dress and shawl pictured here were sewn from Muslin and decorated with green beetle wing cases. It was made in Madras for a Barbara Morrison, a Skye crofter’s daughter. She married a soldier who was posted to India during the early days of the British Raj. Barbara had the dress and shawl […]

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John Brown’s Brooch

Tokens of Her Esteem: John Brown was Queen Victoria’s personal servant at Balmoral, the estate in Aberdeenshire which she and Prince Albert bought and loved. The brooch pictured belonged to John Brown, and is part of a set of Highland dress accessories given to him by Victoria on the date of the marriage of her fourth daughter, […]

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Remarkable Dress

The fabric of history: The family who donated this piece tell the story that the piece of material used for the dress came from a soldier family member who took part in the Jacobite risings of 1745. While retreating from Derby, the soldier started to fear that he may be killed in battle. He took […]

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Gaelic Bible

When the word was God: The Museum holds a unique collection relating to Victorian and Edwardian pastimes and education, including sporting equipment, card games and books. We also hold an extensive library housing one of the largest and most significant collections of highland literature and periodicals in existence, including the item shown here – a […]

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