Kilmartin collection named as one of Scotland’s top 50

Dr Sharon Webb with a unique Bronze Age Food Vessel discovered in Kilmartin Glen.

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Today Kilmartin Museum’s Prehistoric Collection was unveiled as the 50th Nationally Significant Collection in Scotland.

Scotland’s Recognition Scheme celebrates, promotes and invests in Nationally Significant Collections beyond those held in our national museums and galleries. The Recognition Scheme is administrated by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The prehistoric collection at Kilmartin Museum is a unique collection of fundamental importance to understanding Scotland’s history. Many of the Museum’s objects were discovered or excavated at the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites and monuments in Argyll’s Kilmartin Glen, near to where the Museum building is located. The museum’s setting in this landscape is important to the display of their collection, near the Upper Largie prehistoric site and overlooking an impressive cemetery of burial cairns.

To celebrate the 50th Nationally Significant Collection the chairman of the Recognition Committee, Dr Katie Stevenson, representatives from Museums Galleries Scotland, and Kilmartin Museum staff and supporters will be attending the award announcement today.

The 50 Nationally Significant Collections stretch from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway. Varied and vast in the array of objects they contain, the collections reflect centuries of effort to preserve and interpret Scotland’s past.

Dr Katie Stevenson said: ‘The Kilmartin Museum Prehistoric Collection is a remarkable asset to understanding the importance of this period and of the area to the earliest centuries of settlement in what is now Scotland.

‘The collection is wide-ranging, and includes very early examples of 4,000-year-old decorated Beaker pottery, and a hoard of 3,000-year-old Bronze Age metal weapons, which had been ceremonially placed in a bog on the Isle of Coll.

‘Set in the context of its landscape, the Prehistoric Collection at Kilmartin Museum is a remarkable jewel in the crown of Scottish museum collections. As the 50th Nationally Significant Collection it highlights the diverse range of objects that are in the care of Scotland’s museums and the significance of them to understanding Scotland’s history.’

Dr Sharon Webb MBE, the curator and director of Kilmartin Museum, said:  ‘We are thrilled that Kilmartin Museum has received recognition for its Prehistoric Collection. The artefacts are well worthy of this status, and it is a great achievement for the whole organisation that we have been successful.

‘Kilmartin Museum is soon to be transformed into a state-of-the-art visitor attraction and centre for archaeological engagement and learning. We are deeply honoured that our new galleries will open in 2022 with a Nationally Significant collection as their centrepiece.’

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: ‘We are fortunate in Scotland to have the most inspiring history and heritage right on our doorstep.

‘The Recognition Scheme serves to highlight Scotland’s most important national and international collections containing some of our best quality artefacts and artworks.

‘I would like to congratulate Kilmartin Museum on becoming the 50th collection. It will be in prestigious company, among collections from all parts of Scotland which help us to understand a wide range of stories, spanning thousands of years of Scotland’s history.’