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Massive boost for Sutherland museum linked with Highland Clearances

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A museum situated which explores the social history of north-west Sutherland has been given a boost of £650,000.

Strathnaver Museum in Bettyhill tells the story of the Highland Clearances, with the attraction itself playing an important part of the story.

It was from the pulpit which still dominates the main exhibition room that Rev David Mackenzie was obliged to read out eviction notices to his congregation during the main Strathnaver Clearances of 1814-19.

And now visitors will be able to find out even more about the story thanks to grant funding from the National and Cultural Heritage Fund, led by Scottish Natural Heritage.

The redevelopment project will secure help conserve the historic church building and secure the existing museum collection for years to come.

An annex will be built to the north of the church to explore the agricultural story of the area, and improvements will be made to the lay-out of the church to allow more items to be put on show.

As well as the vital building work, the £650,000 grant will run a three-year community programme of activities to share and gather information about Mackay Country – looking at the Highland Clearances and the themes of land use, culture, migration, industry and politics.

It is hoped the project will encourage people touring the NC500 to visit some of the more remote and rural areas to create and sustain jobs, businesses and local services.

Museum chairman Tommy Mackay said: “We are delighted to have been awarded funding by the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund towards our refurbishment project. The funding will allow us to enhance the visitor experience, sustain jobs and the services we deliver and enable us to continue to promote the natural and cultural heritage of our area and the Highlands more widely.”

Francesca Osowska, SNH chief executive, added: “This project will bring significant benefits to the local area for years to come, and give visitors even more to enjoy in these iconic areas of Scotland.”

Built in 1774, the former church is now a B-listed building.

To support the Strathnaver Museum Refurbishment Appeal, visit the website or search for their TotalGiving page.

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