Museum and Gardens
Miller House and the Birthplace Cottage (owned and run by the National Trust for Scotland) present a comprehensive overview of the life and work of Hugh Miller, and the key events of his time. Miller House portrays Miller’s career as a stonemason, underlines the importance of his wife, Lydia, and displays a fossil collection much enhanced with long-term loans from the National Museums of Scotland’s Hugh Miller Collection.
Miller House (the two-storied building on the right in the photo above) is a Georgian-period villa built by Miller’s father in 1797. His great-grandfather John Feddes built the thatched cottage c.1698. Both are Grade A-listed historic buildings, standing at the very heart of Cromarty’s conservation area.
On the Miller House ground floor right, the inter-active media (touch-screens) provide an exciting format for learning, with adventures of discovery for children. The parlour on the first-floor vividly recreates the environment in which Hugh Miller and his family lived. Next to it is the Edinburgh Years room, portraying his momentous years editing The Witness (1840-1856), and his tragic death. (Right, the parlour of Miller House - photo courtesy NTS).
The geology displays in room 5 on the top floor demonstrate the man’s exceptional abilities as a fossil collector and palaeontologist. The hands-on workbench in room 6 gives people of all ages the chance to examine specimens for themselves. Over 150 books in the Museum library can be viewed by appointment.
The Cottage and its grounds are interpreted through an audio tour which evokes the place as the beloved home of generations of the Miller family; the soundtrack includes several of his most intriguing folk tales. (Left, the cottage Kitchen - photo courtesy NTS).
The NTS Guidebook, (In The Steps of Hugh Miller £4.50), is strongly recommended to visitors, containing as it does all the most essential elements of Miller’s legacy, together with analytical texts by leading experts in his fields. It has just been revised and reprinted.
Two small but very beautiful, and original gardens adjoin the two buildings.
MILLER’S YARD: GARDEN OF WONDERS
is an open air “room” serving as an extension of the displays in Miller House. It reflects all Miller’s delight in natural science. Its stone walls and paving were quarried mainly from the Moray Firth formations of Old Red Sandstone and Caithness flags. The borders hold Scottish native plants, and ferns, some of which date from the Jurassic era. Among several fossil models, a brilliant “ammonite” in scrap metal by the sculptor Helen Denerley stands out. Admire Charles Smith’s freehand-inscribed wall plaques too.
Situated behind the Birthplace Cottage, this garden was replanted in 2011 and named for Lydia Miller, Hugh and their descendants. It has a bed of perfumed roses, some native Scottish trees such as rowan and silver birch, a herb patch, a rockery and a well. The stand-out here is the highly ornate sundial pedestal carved by Miller in 1825, when he was 23.
Detail from Miller's sundial
The property manager is Dr Alix Powers-Jones, and senior visitor assistant is Mrs Zooulla Spirou. They can be contacted by phone on 01381 600245, or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to arrange group and/or out of hours visits, or to request access to items in the reserve collections.
Admission prices : Free to members of NTS and the National Trust, and other Trust-associated heritage bodies worlwide.
You can find opening times under theNews Headlines on the Home Page above, or by visiting the NTS website.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Inverness, take the A9 north over Kessock Bridge, and turn right at the exit for Munlochy. At the T junction on the further side of Munlochy, turn right again on to the A832, and follow through Avoch, Fortrose, and Rosemarkie, 18 miles in all, to Cromarty.
From North, follow the A9 south over the Cromarty Bridge, and take the first turning on the left, B9163, turning left at the T junction at the top of the hill. This road continues all the way to Cromarty, via Balblair, and a left hand turn signposted Jemimaville and Cromarty.
A Cromarty-Nigg four-car ferry shuttle service operates from June to October, starting at Cromarty at 8.00am and sailing continuously until 6.25 (7.25 in July and August)