Our Favorite Museum in Edinburgh

We visited the National Museum of Scotland one day during our stay in Edinburgh. Two-thirds of the museum is devoted to art, design, science, technology and the natural world outside Scotland. We chose to spend our time solely in the one-third of the space devoted to the history and archaeology of Scotland.

The National Museum of Scotland Grand Gallery.

The National Museum of Scotland Grand Gallery.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.


One of several Window on the World displays in the Grand Gallery.


The Large Tree Group tapestry is based on a 1975 painting by Victoria Crowe. The tapestry was produced entirely from un-dyed native wool.

We arrived in the Grand Gallery just in time for the 1pm Scotland History and Archaeology tour.


James was our guide through the galleries devoted to Scotland History and Archaeology.


Metal sculpture by Eduardo Paoloxxi in the Early People gallery is used to display Bronze Age jewelry.


Bows and arrows used by Scotland’s Early People.


Carving from the Roman times.


Vessels depicting both pagan and Christian themes date from the Roman occupation period.


Pagans and Christians had different burial customs. Viking settlers in Scotland finally converted to Christianity in the 10th century.


St Columba (521-597) was an Irishman who brought Christianity to Scotland in 563. He founded a monastery on the isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides.


After his victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 Robert the Bruce became Robert I of Scotland.


Mary, Queen of Scots flanked by her father James V and her son James VI. Mary was imprisoned by her cousin Queen Elizabeth for 19 years and then executed. Elizabeth died without an heir and so Mary’s son became King James I of England and Ireland.


The story of Bonnie Prince Charlie whose army was slaughtered at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Charlie escaped first to the isle of Skye and then to France. About half of the Scottish folk ballads we heard during our trip to Scotland were about Charlie and the 1745-46 Jacobite Rebellion.


In 1707 Scotland and England merged to become Great Britain.


One of the largest displays we saw was the Newcomen Steam Engine. Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine in 1712.


James Watt (1736-1819) improved on Newcomen’s invention. The steam engines he and his partner Matthew Boulton produced brought on the Industrial Revolution. Watt is also credited with coining the term “horsepower.”

After touring several levels of Scotland galleries we found ourselves on the roof gazing at terrific views of the city of Edinburgh. See here for my entry for Monochrome Madness 3-21 and here for more photos of the views from the museum’s roof.


Entrance to the Tower Restaurant below the roof.

We then thought we might grab a late lunch at the museum’s Tower Restaurant but the food and the prices were a tad too ritzy for us. So we walked back down to earth and had a very nice lunch at the Elephant Cafe up the street toward the Grassmarket. I’ll have more to say about this place in my next posting.

We enjoyed our trip to the museum and are glad we took the Scotland History and Archaeology tour. If we ever return to Edinburgh we will have to go back to the museum to see Tyrannosaurus Rex and all of the other galleries we missed. And maybe this time we will have a fancy lunch at the Tower Restaurant.

Admission to the museum is free but donations are welcome.





About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Scotland, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Our Favorite Museum in Edinburgh

  1. Amy says:

    Enjoyed the tour of the museum. The first one is a stunning image!
    Thank you for the virtual tour.

  2. thank you for the tour! I saw the remains of a church of St. Columba on Skye. Did you? You know, I’ve always been interested in Viking mythology and know about the history of vikings in many Scottish areas such as Skye and Orkneys etc.. My cousin had her DNA tested through Ancestry.com and got me interested to do same. They can place dna in certain areas apparently. Well it turns out that beside the obvious Scots and Irish etc there is also found a not small percentage of – go figure- Scandinavian dna! Those Vikings did get around!

  3. lauramacky says:

    Loved the museum. Thanks for sharing! That first one is amazing!!! Nice job with the verticals.

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