Hugh Miller's Birthplace Cottage 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) is a Georgian-period villa built by Miller’s father in 1797. The adjacent thatched cottage, in which Hugh Miller was born in 1802, was built by his great-grandfather John Feddes in around 1698. Both are Grade A-listed historic buildings, standing at the very heart of Cromarty’s conservation area.
On the Miller House ground floor, inter-active 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 newspaper (1840-1856), and his tragic death.
The geology displays in room 5 on the top floor demonstrate Miller'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 NTS Guidebook, (In The Steps of Hugh Miller), 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.
Two small but very beautiful and original gardens adjoin the two buildings.
Miller's Yard: Garden of Wonders
This garden 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. Visitors can 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 years of age.
The property manager is Debbie Reid. The site can be contacted by phone on 01381 600245 or email at email@example.com with any questions or queries. Group and/or out of hours visits can be arranged as well as access to items in the reserve collections.
Admission prices: Free to members of NTS and the National Trust, and other Trust-associated heritage bodies worldwide.
You can find opening times by visiting the NTS website.
How to Get Here
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 September. The ferry leaves Cromarty every hour and half past the hour from 8am and leaves Nigg every quarter to and quarter past the hour up till 6.15 pm. Check details here.