Auchindrain Township | About Auchindrain
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Auchindrain is a museum representing an important part of Scotland’s past. The 22-acre site, deep in the stunning Argyll countryside, contains the houses and other buildings of a small farming community known as a township. Back in history Scotland had relatively few cities and towns. Most people lived in the country, worked as farmers and lived in a township – there were once thousands of places like this.


In a township, a group of families lived alongside each other, sharing the land and the work, growing their own food, and breeding cattle (from around 1850, sheep) to sell. They were most common in the north and west of Scotland, and evolved so that people could survive in a mountainous and unforgiving landscape with poor soil and a cold, wet climate. Life in a township was extremely harsh: people had few possessions, very little money, and starvation was always just around the corner.

All contributions are very gratefully received and contribute to the valuable work we do here at Auchindrain.


In the 1700s, new ways of farming started to develop, based on better and more scientific understanding of things like land drainage, animal breeding and crops such as potatoes and turnips. Landowners, supported by the new knowledge and encouraged by increasing demand for everything that the land could produce, began a process known as agricultural improvement – the farming equivalent of the industrial revolution that was transforming cities like Glasgow. The townships with their communal way of life were seen as an obstacle to change. More could be produced from the land and there was more money to be made, but the townships and their people were in the way.


Over about a hundred years from around 1750 almost all of Scotland’s townships were improved out of existence. In some places they were replaced by modern-style farms run by tenants who could apply the new ways and which employed people as agricultural labourers. In others they were divided up into crofts, small individual tenancies that deliberately did not provide a family with enough land to earn a living – the system was partly intended to provide a captive workforce for new industrial enterprises. Some landowners had the townships demolished and sent the people away so that the land could be used to graze large flocks of sheep managed by a few shepherds, or sometimes as private sporting estates. The process, known as the Highland Clearances (although not all landowners actually evicted the people who had been their tenants in the old townships) was brutal, often traumatic, and changed the face of rural Scotland for ever. By around 1850 most townships had gone.  A few seem to have survived into the late 1800s and early 1900s, by moving with the times and changing their approach to farming and the construction of buildings. Auchindrain was the last, remaining a genuine community into the 1930s before the number of tenants dropped to just one. Farming ended here in 1963, the last people moved away in 1967, and the township has been open to visitors as a museum since 1968.


Today, Auchindrain is a very special place indeed: there is nowhere else like it, in Scotland or elsewhere. During the main period of agricultural improvement, between about 1780 and 1860, it kept its traditional communal structure and was not divided up into crofts or rebuilt as a modern-style farm. As a consequence it retains much of the character and layout of a traditional township – a random scatter of simple buildings set in a landscape that has changed relatively little in centuries.  The preserved buildings give an authentic insight into how people lived and worked. There’s nothing staged or glossy, and what you see creates a powerful picture of the lives of ordinary people. You can wander freely around the houses and farm buildings, see where the animals grazed and where crops were grown. The houses are furnished with everyday objects and you’ll find old farming tools and implements in the barns.  It feels as if the people have just gone out for the day.




Auchindrain is truly a place in Scotland’s history: a reminder of how we once were.  It has particular significance for people around the world of Scottish descent in countries like the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The reality is that your ancestors almost certainly came from a township, and either chose to emigrate to seek a life that was not so hard, or they were forced to do so. Only at Auchindrain can you get a real sense of the sort of place they came from. So if you are coming to Scotland in search of your ancestors, please put Auchindrain on the list of places you absolutely must visit. If you can’t make the journey in person, follow the link below and explore the township online.


We hope you will share our view that this magical place should continue to be preserved.  If so, please click on the link above and make a donation to support our work. Auchindrain is owned and operated by a charity, Urras Achadh an Droighinn/The Auchindrain Trust: although the Scottish Government does provide us with some financial help with running costs, we need every penny we can get and your gift will be very much appreciated.

Auchindrain's logo. The text reads "Auchindrain: A place in Scotland's history".

Explore Auchindrain

Click the button below for an online interactive tour of Auchindrain.


We are open from 1st April to 31st October, 10am to 5pm daily.


From November to March we are open 10am-4pm most weekdays, except over Christmas and New Year.  When planning a winter visit, please email us at to check that we will be open when you want to come.  You do not need to book in advance, but please don’t hold us responsible if you turn up without warning and the gates are closed.  In the winter the Visitor Centre is closed and you take us as you find us.


In the winter the Visitor Centre is closed and you take us as you find us, but admission is at reduced rates.


Adult: £8.00
Concession: £7.00
Child 5-17: £5.50

Local Residents, Friends of Auchindrain and everyone November-March: £1.00 adult, 50p concessions and children.

A 20% discount is available to up to two adults where a group includes more than one child, and to pre-booked groups of more than 20 people.


School and other educational visits must be booked and arranged in advance, so that we can provide the type and quality of service you have the right to expect.

Children under 5, carers supporting visitors with disabilities, guides and drivers, and professional members of the Museums Association, the Association of Independent Museums and the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions are admitted free.

Unfortunately, we do not recognise membership cards for Historic Environment Scotland or the National Trust for Scotland.



Now that the Scouts have departed the next step is to wash and sort all of our finds. The amount of pottery and glass that was found within ruin P confirms that the building became a midden, or dumping ground, after it was used to house animals. As always at Auchindrain we have found a large amount of Spongewear and decorated pottery as well as shoe leathers. ... See MoreSee Less

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Thanks to the brilliant efforts of the Bonnyrigg Scouts this weekend we have transformed the floor within building P, removing the topsoil to reveal a manuring channel running down the middle of the floor towards the door. We had previously thought that this building was used for storage so this evidence that it housed livestock is completely new and very exciting news for us.

At some point the building was left to ruin and became a midden, or dumping ground, for the Township. Stay tuned as over the next few days we'll be posting pictures of some of the objects found during our dig down to this level.
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Yesterday's star find was this piece of a spongewear bowl, its colours still glowing almost as brightly as when it was whole and new.

China like this, usually made in the workshops of central Scotland, graced the tables of the people of the township in the 19th century. When new it was cheap and intended for everyday use: try buying an undamaged example of a piece like this now and the price would shock you!

The Bonnyrigg Scouts found this, and other items, in the bed of the burn that runs through Auchindrain.
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Today the 14th Midlothian Bonnyrigg Scout Group have been busy excavating and digging to expose the original road along with cleaning all the finds they have made despite the the rain and the army of midgies! ... See MoreSee Less

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14th Midlothian Bonnyrigg Scout Group arrived on friday evening to set up camp. They are here for the weekend to help us with excavating a ruin, digging the original cobbled road and looking for findsin the burn!.

We will be posting regularly over the weekend so stay tuned!
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