Kilmartin Museum project lands £3.2m National Lottery windfall

An artist's impression of how the redeveloped Kilmartin Museum will look.

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Kilmartin Museum has received a confirmed grant of £3.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their Redevelopment Project, it was announced today.

The project aims to transform Kilmartin Museum into a landmark venue that interprets and celebrates the global significance of Kilmartin Glen, one of the most significant archaeological landscapes in Britain.

As well as becoming a significant cultural and natural tourism centre, completion of the project will enable the museum to be able to care for its collection of artefacts, some of which are of international significance.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project has taken a massive leap towards becoming a reality.

Providing all the funding is in place, construction work will begin on the project in January 2019, with the aim of works being complete by the summer of 2020. Estimated site visitors will increase to 44,000 that year, while the redeveloped museum will have an economic impact on Argyll as a whole of £5.8 million in its first year.

A major extension designed by award-winning architects Reiach and Hall will join together the two existing buildings creating a seamless museum. This will provide a much larger exhibition space giving exciting opportunities get more artefacts on display and tell many more visitors the story of Kilmartin Glen’s unique archaeological and natural heritage.

This project will ensure Kilmartin Museum has an international profile and it will become the must-see archaeological attraction on the Scottish mainland, driving domestic and overseas tourism visits to Argyll and to Scotland.

The new museum will ensure that Kilmartin Glen gains the recognition it deserves and its larger scale and better flow will mean that more than twice as many people can experience its treasures, enjoy its stories and appreciate the important role it played in shaping the Scottish nation.

The new museum will, however, continue to develop its local reputation as an invaluable community resource.

The education service aims to triple its current user numbers from 3,000 to 9,000 per annum due to better facilities and increased service capacity.  Activities for students of all ages are planned and will transform Kilmartin Museum, enabling it to become Scotland’s national centre for excellence in archaeology.

Crucially, the project will safeguard the archaeological collections in Argyll for future generations. Since prehistoric times, Kilmartin Glen been a special to many generations.

Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples built tombs to house their dead, some carved enigmatic designs on bedrock now known as cup and ring marks, others erected stone circles and standing stones, the purpose of which inspires speculation today.

Later peoples, named Scotti, chose to site the capital of this medieval sea kingdom at Dunadd, in the heart of the glen. The kingdom they created spanned whole regions of what is now Scotland and Ireland and was the dominant power for more than five centuries.

In all, more than 800 monuments and sites have been found within a six-mile radius of Kilmartin Glen. These testify to the skill, ingenuity and firmly held beliefs of the thousands of generations who called Kilmartin Glen home.

For 21 years Kilmartin Museum has been discovering, caring for and sharing the stories of artefacts from this special place, which visitors can see in the context of the sites and monuments in which they were found.