Main Gallery
The Museum explores 14,000 years of rural and small town life in Upper Clydesdale.
It focuses on the people who have lived and worked here from prehistoric times up to the mid-20th century. The museum collection is displayed through the themes below.
Gladstone Court
When you visit Gladstone Court listen carefully, you might hear the sounds of children at play or the postie's knock on the door. You may even want to make a phone call from the telephone exchange, play some games in the square or take a seat in the Royal Bank to view a short film or slideshow.
Special Exhibition Room
Our temporary exhibition space allows for changing exhibitions from our own collection. It also meets the enhanced security and environmental controls required to display loans of art and artefacts from the National Collections. From November until April the room is also available for use by local organisations, for community-based exhibitions and for hire as a space for talks, workshops and other activities. Please contact the museum for further information.
The Land and People
It has taken over 400 million years to produce Clydesdale's landscape of rolling hills and gentle valleys. Trace the landscape’s development and take a look at the geological specimens on display. They include a sample of every type of rock and mineral ever found in Clydesdale.
Scotland's Earliest People
Upper Clydesdale has the earliest known traces of human presence in Scotland. Distinctive flint tools from around 14,000 years ago were discovered at Howburn, four miles north of Biggar. This display explores these Howburn hunters and the later Mesolithic nomadic hunter-gatherers.
Neolithic Farmers
Shortly after 4000 BC there was a major change in the way people lived. New settlers began to farm the land, growing cereals and keeping domesticated animals. These people left evidence of their settlement in Clydesdale, including pottery and tools such as axes and arrowheads.
Copper Age and Bronze Age Inhabitants
Innovations such as a new style of ‘Beaker’ pottery and a particular way of burying the dead appeared during the Copper Age (2500 – 2200 BC). Find out more through the exciting story of ‘Thankerton Man’: a local young adult who lived over 4,000 years ago and whose skull was used to reconstruct his head and face.
Iron Age and Medieval Settlements
Upper Clydesdale is rich in the remains of ancient settlements. Models illustrate the features of these settlements over a period of almost 2,000 years, including a souterrain, hillfort, broch, crannog, roman fort and motte and bailey castle. Don’t miss the display of medieval finds, reflecting people’s beliefs about magic and status in the 13th century and 14th century.
Biggar and the House of Fleming
The dramatic story of the House of Fleming in Biggar begins in the 14th century. It features murder and execution, loyalty and tragedy. The new narrative of the House of Fleming introduces many less well-known but highly significant figures. Visit the museum to hear about their trials and escapades as they became inextricably caught up in the saga of Mary, Queen of Scots. Look out for the reconstructed model of the Fleming family home in Biggar, Boghall Castle.
17th century Upland Farmers
Bastles were defensive farmhouses, commonly found in remote glens in the Scottish and English borders. They were built to protect families and livestock against attack from robbers, who were known as reivers. The objects on display and the model of a bastle house tell us how these people lived in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Rural life in the 19th century
This display looks at the emergence of the Clydesdale horse as a mainstay of farming in the 19th century. The blue silk Whipman Banner is a piece of folk art by local Skirling-born artist James Howe (1780-1836). Howe completed this banner for the Biggar Whipman Society in the early 19th century. He went on to achieve renown as Scotland’s leading animal painter.
Religious Protesters
This collection relates to the covenanting period in 17th century Scotland. One highlight is the Scots Press Bed in which one of the main ministers of the Covenant, the Rev Donald Cargill, spent the night prior to his arrest at Covington Mill on 12 July 1681. He was subsequently hanged and beheaded.
Crimean Heroes
This includes two magnificent patchwork table covers made by a Biggar tailor, Menzies Moffat, at the time of the Crimean war. They offer an invaluable record of culture and society in the 19th century. You can find out more about the life of Menzies and the personalities who appear on his patchwork by using the interactive touchscreen.
Polish Soldiers
This collection of World War Two Polish militaria, photographs and ephemera relates to the short period when the 1st Polish Brigade’s headquarters was located in Biggar. The quantity of ephemera donated to the museum by local people is a testimony to the long-lasting links that were made between Polish soldiers and locals.
Gladstone Court Streetscape
The quaint shops span over 150 years of life in a small town and include an apothecary, grocer, ironmonger, bootmaker, toyshop, printer, clockmaker and dressmaker. Most of the objects, shop fittings and signs were collected locally.

Handling Kits

School Services

Themed Kits
The museum has resources available for loan to schools and community groups. Our themed handling kits include:

Early 20th century

Please enquire by phone or email for our charges and to check availability.

Unsupported school visits
Entry charge of £2 per pupil. Free entry for teachers and support workers.
Free entry for all pupils in the ML12 postcode.

Supported school visits
These may include guided tours, handling sessions and activities tailored to specific topics. Please enquire by phone or email.

School Workshops
Please enquire by phone or email.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss any of the above and tailor a package to suit your needs.