The sea has always been important to Campbeltown. Artefacts as diverse as the ship’s clock from the Stella Maris and mediaeval crosses incorporating West Highland galleys demonstrate how its status and wealth was founded on the sea. The Museum also displays some of William McTaggart’s work – widely acclaimed as Scotland’s greatest landscape painter. A Westerly Gale depicts Kintyre’s rugged coastline and Atlantic surf and graphically demonstrates the dangers faced by those who depended on the sea for their living, and on whose wealth Campbeltown was built.
The Museum also holds a fascinating collection of taxidermy of the birdlife of Kintyre. Some of the exhibits are now extremely rare in the wild; the Museum offers a chance to see these endangered creatures up close and by demonstrating their beauty will hopefully encourage future generations to better protect and care for them. A full brochure about the museum's artefacts is available here.
A Westerly Gale
By William McTaggart - Scotland’s greatest landscape painter – A Westerly Gale (in oil on board) loved Machrihanish Beach and chose this spot to capture the coming Atlantic storm, creating a painting that is the best loved and most valuable of the fine art works in the Museum collection.
In 1609 Archibald the Grim – the 7th Earl of Argyll, was given the power by the King to ‘plant a burgh, to be inhabited by Lowland men and trafficking burgesses, within the bounds of Kintyre.’ He chose the site of the existing village of Ceanloch-Kilkerran, which was renamed Campbeltown in his honour. The Duke of Argyll has long retained a connection with the town, granting rights for his tenants to pasture a cow on the town moor. The Herd’s Horn was used by the Town Herd, who every morning collected cows from each tenant, taking them through the streets of Campbeltown to pasture, and returning them to their owners each evening for milking. The Town Herd was a man of some importance locally – the names of all those who held the position are engraved in silver on the Horn’s plaque.
Stone Axe Head
Before humans discovered metals they used stone to make axes and tools for hunting and felling trees. Each piece would have taken a long time to make and would have been very valuable to the first farmers in Kintyre. The axe represents probably the most fundamental change in the way that humans have lived on the planet – the introduction of farming and a settled lifestyle.
Carved stone balls are probably Scotland’s most enigmatic ancient artefacts. Many are carved and decorated with spirals and circles. Were they religious or sacred ornaments or did they have some other meaning? What do you think?
This magnificent necklace made of jet and cannel coal was found in a Bronze Age burial cairn in Kintyre in 1970. It is extremely valuable today, and would have been equally valuable and rare when it was worn by a Bronze Age leader c 2000BC. It is thought to have been a family heirloom and eventually buried with an important person where it was broken and scattered around the body.
The Museum displays a number of local birds and marine life demonstrating the unique habitats to be found in Kintyre. The area is a nationally important stronghold of the Barn Owl species. Being able to see up close these magnificent creatures helps us to appreciate their beauty and fragility. The barn owl in Scotland is the most northerly worldwide but its habitats are endangered and need protection and conservation.