#43 Caithness Horizons

My name is Sara Donaldson and I would like to adopt Caithness Horizons.

Pictish Stones (photograph courtesy of Caithness Horizons)

Pictish Stones (photograph courtesy of Caithness Horizons)

Tell us a bit more about yourself

I live in the very far north of Scotland, in a place called Caithness, although I’m originally a Yorkshire lass. I am a bit of a jack-of-all trades… I was a librarian, then my relocation north facilitated my move into freelance genealogy, indexing and more recently editing, which I love. When I’m not working I can be found tinkering with crafts, at Thurso Players drama group, or just looking out of my living-room window watching the sea roll by with Orkney in the distance.

Tell us a bit more about your adopted museum
My adopted museum is Caithness Horizons, in Thurso, Caithness. It’s situated in a beautiful Victorian building which was originally the Town Hall. It is open all year round, with free entry, contains a museum of local artefacts (including two very important Pictish stones), gallery space, café, shop, and houses the Caithness Family History Society. It also has an information area about Dounreay, a nuclear power station located in the county. The museum’s exhibits range from Caithness pre-history to its Viking and Pictish inhabitants, and all the way through to the modern day.

Why have you chosen to adopt this museum?
Caithness Horizons has managed to change the face of the Town Hall, from a run down building into a place where the community can see its past, at the same time as embracing its future. Not a dusty museum at all, there are meeting spaces available, the gallery regularly highlights local art and the café entices people in and allows them to relax. Many people are unaware of the rich heritage of the North of Scotland, often overlooked as a stopping off point to Orkney, but Horizons offers a glimpse at what the county has to offer. Behind the scenes a lot of hard work and dedication has created the museum, and with a film created to show the visitor life in Caithness, the museum manages to stay relevant to the present day, and not a stagnant artefact of a bygone age.

Why would you recommend people visit?
Caithness Horizons is a fascinating building, with plenty to keep visitors to the area happy, but it’s also a busy place where you will meet the locals. It’s certainly not stuffy or lifeless. Robert Dick’s collection of flora and fauna is impressive, as are the archaeological artefacts, and you can sit in a chair in the museum and listen to old reminiscences told in the local dialect. The history of Thurso isn’t forgotten either. As you enter the door, look to your left and you are greeted by two Pictish carved standing stones, you don’t have to be interested in history to be impressed. These have been painstakingly preserved and must be two of the finest examples in the country. Why would I recommend people visit? Because Caithness is an undiscovered gem, and, along with other wonderful museums in the county, Caithness Horizons opens up the history and culture of the area in a way that is accessible to everyone (and you can have a damn fine cup of tea when you’re finished).

How would you sum up your museum in three words?
Modern, vibrant, relevant

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