The wonderful and diverse array of items on show at the Fossil & Heritage Centre reflect a father and his sons' devotion to collecting fossils and objects used by Orcadians in daily life throughout the 20th century, including during the World Wars.


Leslie Firth, Cruaday Quarry 2010

Over the winter of 2015-16, local volunteers and contractors have upgraded the Heritage Galleries upstairs. The Galleries feature collections gathered by the Firth family and other local collectors, which paint a picture of life in these islands in the 19th and 20th centuries.


There are new displays about wartime in Orkney, including items recovered from the Battle of Jutland and information relating to the survivors of the HMS Hampshire, as well as a new display about the 'other' Italian Chapel on Burray built, like its more famous counterpart on Lamb Holm which survives today, by Italian Prisoners of War during the Construction of the Churchill Barriers.


There is a new display telling the story of boatbuilding in Burray at the boatyard operated by five generations of the Duncan family, alongside an extensive collection of woodworking tools.


This recent upgrade follows the extensive comprehensive redevelopment of the downstairs galleries and the construction of a new space to house the Building the Barriers exhibition, which took place over the winter of 2011-12; the images below show these transformations under way.


Click on the arrows on images below to see the 2011-12 work in progress.




Before you visit, take a virtual tour around the museum, shop and heritage tearoom.

Information for disabled visitors


There is wheelchair access to the building via the Heritage Tearoom and an accessible toilet beside the main entrance. The downstairs galleries are mostly accessible, but there are steps down into the Glow Room, which displays fluorescent rocks.


The main local heritage galleries are upstairs and there is no stair lift. You can explore these galleries via a google tour (see left) or via a hand-held device available free of charge at the main entrance.


Most of the displays are static, many items are in display cases and some can be touched. There is one soundscape unit and a screen with rotating black and white images, but no other audiovisual presentations.


The outbuildings with displays of tools and other heritage items are accessible via a narrow stone path with steps. Look out for the low doorways. The Gift Shop and Heritage Tearoom areas are fully accessible and a table can be reserved in the Tearoom if you wish by phoning in advance.


For more information please contact us.

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