In the early 1700's, most of Scotland's population lived in small, self-sufficient and rural communities, surviving largely on a meagre diet of dairy products from cattle and locally-grown crops. Then from around 1750 to 1850 came The Clearances: landowners "improving" the productivity of the land by replacing people with sheep, driving tenants onto tiny crofts or even to emigration. Townships dwindled but, amazingly, Auchindrain survived until 1967 when the final family moved away. Only a year later the remains of the scattered settlement re-opened as an open-air museum with over a dozen buildings, today surviving in various states from rubble to fully restored cottages. A slick visitor experience is delivered by a portable tablet which you carry around the site, equipped with map, GPS system and info about each house and area of the township; we also had an informal tour guide in the form of the museum's cat, which followed us into each of the buildings. It's a genuinely thought-provoking connection to another era; catch the place on a quiet morning and it almost feels as the inhabitants have only just left.
|[Bell Pol's House]|
Name: Auchindrain Township ★★★☆☆
Location: A83 2 miles north of Furnace, G.R.: NN 030031 / poems vines overheard
Open (2017): Daily, April to September; most weekdays, October to March, except visitor centre
Cost (2017): £7.50 (adults), £5 (children), free from October to March