Scotland Travel

Fort William

Fort William is a lovely town in the western Scottish Highlands, on the shores of Loch Linnhe, and the base for the ones wanting to climb Ben Nevis. On our day in Fort William, we’ve visited two tourist attractions, a museum and a castle, and we’ve done a bit of shopping.

Fort William

In the old part of the town there are pubs, shops ranging from bookshops to whiskey and, of course, Edinburgh Woollen Mill. It is lovely to visit and you might want to buy a couple of things, I know I did, including some Scottish shortbread, of course.

Fort William - West Highland Museum

West Highland Museum is a free museum in the centre of Fort William. It tells the story of the region and its people. It is quite interesting to visit. As usual, I picked a few highlights from my visit.

Bike on display at West Highland Museum. Fort William

This is a BSA Airborne WWII paratroopers bicycle. It is a folding bike that was used in the war. Bicycles like this one were used extensively by troops landing on the Normandy beaches on D-Day. This bike was donated by the family of the postmaster. He bought the bike and rode it in the village for years.

Punishing table or Birching table at West Highland Museum. Fort William

It was the first time I’ve seen a Birching table. This one is a modern replica. Amazingly, the last birching in Fort William took place in 1948. A court would decide on this punishment and a doctor had to be present to make sure it was delivered correctly.

Anvil on display at West Highland Museum. Fort William

This is a 14th century anvil. I do love seeing anvils in the Scottish museum, as they remind me of Gretna Green.

Piece of jewellery, a memorial pin, on display at West Highland Museum. Fort William

I was excited to discover this memorial pin on display. It was given to John Brown’s relatives by Queen Victoria after his death. That must have been a controversial piece of jewellery.

Coffin guard on display at West Highland Museum. Fort William

This is another item I haven’t seen before, a coffin guard. These were used to prevent body snatchers from stealing the corpse of someone who died recently. The bodies were in demand with medical schools, where dissection of dead bodies was important. Usually executed criminals were used for this, but the demand outstripped the supply. The only deterrent was this iron coffin guard. It was placed around the coffin and a heavy iron lid was placed on top. This guard would have been left there until the body was starting to decay, making it unattractive for stealing. As these guards were expensive, the church would buy one and would hire it out.
Some entrepreneurs like Burke and Hare, bypassed this problem in the 1820s, when they decided to murder their victims and sell the bodies to the doctors.

Inverlochy castle. Fort William

Inverlochy castle is also free to visit and only about 10 minutes by car from the West Highland Museum. The castle is a ruin, but it looks beautiful and with a steam nearby, it is worth a visit.

Inverlochy castle in Fort William

Two battles were fought here, first one in 1431 between two clans, and the second one during the civil war, in 1645. The original castle dates back to the 13th century. A new Inverlochy castle was built in the Victorian era, now transformed into a hotel.

Ruins of Inverlochy castle. Fort William

Tower of Inverlochy castle. Fort William

Have you been to Fort William? West Highland Museum is in Cameron Square, PH33 6AJ, and Inverlochy Castle is in Torlundy, PH33 6SN.

5 Comment

  1. Fort William looks beautiful! The museum especially, I’d love to see all the curious things – especially the birching table, even though it’s quite gloomy (even as a replica.)

    Julia x

  2. I think all the things you shared from the museum are fascinating! I had no idea paratroopers had folding bicycles. Very interesting about the birching table and the coffin guard, too.

  3. Thanks for this post. I’ve wanted to visit Fort William for a long time and now I definitely do having read this 🙂

  4. What a charming town. I’m intrigued by the bicycle in the museum from WWI. Interesting indeed. The castle looks lovely!

  5. The pattern in the cobblestone streets is gorgeous. I would go for the shortbread. My Scottish grandfather used to make it from scratch. Yum. The artifacts in the museum are fascinating. I have never heard of a coffin guard before but it makes sense.

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