18th April 2008 at 01:00
The acclaimed Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore has opened for the season with the news that admission charges will be waived for the second year running. The open-air living history museum, which covers 80 acres on a mile-long site, attracted more than 50,000 visitors last year. Originally set up on Iona in 1935, the museum moved to Kingussie in 1943 and expanded on to the bigger site in nearby Newtonmore some 50 years later.

Run by Highland Council, the museum features relocated and recreated historic buildings that represent 200 years of rural life in the Highlands, from the early 1700s to the mid-20th century. The highlights include a travellers' camp, a township, a working farm, a railway station, a post office and a school, all of which can be explored. Costumed interpreters are on site, giving demonstrations of Highland rural life, including laying the peats on a real fire - creating that authentic "peat reek" - and tending to the animals.

Historian and author Jim Hunter says: "The past can easily be read about and observed on screen, but at the Highland Folk Museum visitors have the opportunity to experience, in a direct and unmediated fashion, what it was like to live in earlier eras."

Schools are welcome any time, but a special Schools Fortnight (for primary and early years classes) will be held at the museum on June 2-13, focusing on the Second World War and life in the past.

The museum's website features illustrated information on many aspects of Highland life, including crofting, clans, cattle droving, sheep farming, the Clearances of the 18th century, emigration, the history of tourism and life in the Highlands today.

T: 01540 673551; www.highlandfolk.com.

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