National War Museum 

Location: Inside Edinburgh Castle 

Need to know: Nestled atop Castle Hill in Scotland’s capital, this is the museum that offers the broadest overview of the nation’s military history. While other attractions focus on a particular regiment or era, the National War Museum aims to cover 400 years of history in one fell swoop. That doesn’t mean there aren’t specific exhibits, however. The Highlanders in Crimea, the First and Second World Wars, Waterloo, and the Jacobites all get their share of the spotlight, as do the ordinary people affected by war.    

Insider knowledge: The museum’s long-running exhibition Legacies of Empire will finally close in January 2023. It is a fascinating look at the British Empire, and well worth a visit, even if you’ve been to the museum before. 

Ready to go?: Open daily, 9.45am-4.45pm. There’s good lift and ramp access in the museum, and a mobility vehicle can be used to get around the castle – just ask at the front desk.


Fort George 

Location: Near Ardersier, just off the A96 

Need to know: When Fort George was built in the 18th century, it was assumed that one day its garrisons would need to fend off enemy attacks. This never actually happened – the Jacobean threat had diminished by the time construction was complete – but the fort’s almighty ramparts are still impressive. Today, the fort is part historical monument, part active military base. The Army is scheduled to formally withdraw in 2032, rounding off almost three centuries of history. Expect to spend a good few hours exploring the site – the ramparts alone are more than a kilometre long – including the Highlanders’ Museum. 

Insider knowledge: While walking along the ramparts, look out for dolphins below. They can regularly be seen frolicking in the waves off the point. 

Ready to go?: Open daily, 10am-4pm. The site is wheelchair accessible, although those using mobility scooters will need to enter by an alternative route. There are also regular loud noises, bangs and low-flying aircraft around the fort.


The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum 

Location: Inside Stirling Castle 

Need to know: Last year, The Queen reopened this gem of a museum following a three-year renovation. The new exhibits highlight the links between the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Stirling Castle, and the wider community. There are some 5,000 military artefacts on display, including uniforms and weapons, across three storeys in the King’s Old Building. The extensive renovation also included the digitisation of 50,000 archived photographs, making it easier to research individuals who served in the regiment. 

Insider knowledge: While the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders weren’t formed until 1881, there are direct links all the way back to the Stirlingshire Militia of 1639. 

Ready to go?: Open 9.30am-6pm. Access to the museum is via a cobbled slope, although a courtesy car may be arranged by phoning in advance. There are a small number of steps at the entrance and the higher galleries can only be accessed by several flights of stairs.


Military Museum Scotland 

Location: Legion Hall, Kirknewton 

Need to know: This new addition to Scotland’s collection of museums is a bit more hands-on than the others featured here. Most of the objects that are on display can be touched by guests, and the focus is on the last 100 or so years, beginning with the First World War. The museum’s founder, Ian Inglis, has collected military memorabilia for decades, and his personal touch can be seen throughout the exhibits. Previously, he ran a mobile museum that toured around schools in the West Lothian area. 

Insider knowledge: Nearby RAF Kirknewton, which was home to a range of military units during the Second World War, is still the base for the 661 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. 

Ready to go?: Open Tuesday to Wednesday, Friday to-Saturday, 10am-4pm. The indoor and outdoor displays are all easily accessible.

The Black Watch Castle and Museum 

Location: Within walking distance of Perth city centre 

Need to know: The Black Watch, nicknamed in honour of their sombre tartan that so clearly contrasted with their scarlet-coated peers of the 18th century, has been a mainstay of military might since 1739. It took more than a century before this nickname was used as an official descriptor, and their legacy quickly became one of Scottish pride. The regiment’s story is carefully told through artworks and artefacts in Balhousie Castle. While the Black Watch is now a battalion of the Royal Regiment, its unique place in Scottish history is what makes this museum so engrossing. 

Insider knowledge: While in the area, it’s worth popping into the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, which is just down the road. There’s a good range of revolving temporary exhibitions, covering everything from the Roman Empire onwards. 

Ready to go?: Open 9.30am-4.30pm daily until 31 October, with shorter visiting hours over the winter months. There’s a daily guided tour at 11am for a higher admission price, and good wheelchair access throughout.


The National Museum of Flight 

Location: East Fortune Airfield, a 30-minute drive from Edinburgh 

Need to know: With its family-friendly focus, covering everything from how planes fly to how they were used in the Second World War, The National Museum of Flight has something for everyone. While it may be located on one of the best preserved Second World War-era airfields in the UK, the museum covers quite a wide range of history, including the jewel in its crown: Concorde. You can even hop on board Scotland’s Concorde during your time at the museum and learn more at an exhibition specifically about the supersonic plane. 

Insider knowledge: The only Red Arrows Hawk on display at a UK museum can be found just beside Concorde. 

Ready to go?: Only open on weekends, 10am-4pm. There’s good wheelchair access throughout the museum, although Concorde can only be boarded via the stairs.


The Gordon Highlanders Museum 

Location: Viewfield Road, Aberdeen

Need to know: Some 200 years of history are preserved in this engrossing museum, which takes visitors from Napoleonic times right the way through to both world wars and beyond. Audio guides are available in nine languages and there are also fully guided tours that include a look around a replica First World War trench, revealing what life was like for Gordon Highlanders. 

Insider knowledge: Legend suggests that the Duchess of Gordon, the wife of the 4th Duke of Gordon who formed the regiment in 1794, offered a kiss as an incentive to sign up to fight. 

Ready to go?: Open Tuesday to-Saturday, 10am-4.30pm. Good access throughout, including ramps, a lift and a wheelchair.

Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre 

Location: Waldron Road, Montrose 

Need to know: On 26 February 1913, RAF Montrose became the first operational military airfield in the UK. Almost 90 years on, the site now hosts a heritage centre that details the human stories of the base and its role in the Second World War. The attraction is formed of several different buildings, each containing photographs, artefacts and other memorabilia, mostly focused on the 1940s. Replica aircraft, including a Spitfire and a Tornado, are perhaps the jewels in the crown, but there are other highlights too: the well-decorated pilot’s bedroom, and a fascinating section all about animals at war, including dogs, horses and carrier pigeons. Well worth a visit, no matter where your interests lie. 

Insider knowledge: On Sunday afternoons, you can watch as members of the amateur radio station meet to use traditional radio techniques and equipment. 

Ready to go?: Open 10am-4pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 12pm-4pm on Sundays. Easy access throughout the one-floor museum.


The Cameronians Collection 

Location: Low Parks Museum, Hamilton 

Need to know: It was in 1689 that the Earl of Angus created the Cameronians – the British Army’s only regiment to have a firmly religious root. Its soldiers were Covenanters and in the weeks that followed its formation, the regiment fought at the Battle of Dunkeld. The Cameronians disbanded in the 1960s to avoid merging with other regiments. The first Cameronian museum opened in 1931, and the collection now holds weaponry, diaries, artwork and textiles. 

Insider knowledge: The regiment disbanded on 14 May 1968 – the year being a coincidental anagram of the year of the Cameronians’ formation. 

Ready to go?: Open 10am-5pm, Monday to Saturday, and 12pm-5pm on Sunday. There is disabled access throughout, and a wheelchair is available to use.


Russian Arctic Convoy Museum 

Location: Birchburn, on the shores of Loch Ewe 

Need to know: This museum tells the astounding story of British efforts to send aid to the Soviet Union at the height of the Second World War. Merchant ships carried the goods from Scotland along the Norwegian coast and then through the Arctic, supported by warships and the air force, in what was an exceptionally perilous mission. Set near Loch Ewe, where the ships would dock to collect aid and not far from where the operation’s HQ once stood, this small but detailed visitor centre covers the full story in riveting detail. There is also a lot for families to enjoy, including interactive quizzes, games and dressing-up. 

Insider knowledge: The danger involved in the convoys cannot be overstated. It was the most dangerous such route during the conflict, and 85 merchant ships were lost. There were also 3,000 allied deaths. 

Ready to go?: Open 10am-4pm Monday to Saturday, until the end of October. Reopens March 2023. Disabled access.


Oban War & Peace Museum 

Location: On the esplanade by the North Pier, Oban

Need to know: This small but well-populated museum looks at Oban’s part in the Second World War. During the conflict, the town was a temporary home to air force crew from Australia, Canada and the US, while the RAF also had a presence in the bay. An exhibition promoting this story opened 27 years ago to mark 50 years since the end of the war, and since then, it has grown into a fully-fledged museum. In addition to the wartime stories, the attraction also provides a background to Oban’s maritime history, its important railway,
and other local points of interest. 

Insider knowledge: You can also learn about TAT-1, the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system, which ran from Oban to Clarenville in Newfoundland. There were two cables, capable of carrying 35 phone calls at a time. 

Ready to go?: Open daily, 10am-4pm. Closes for the winter on 27 November. Set across one-floor for easy access.



Location: Around five miles east of Inverness, off the A9 

Need to know: Culloden saw the final stand of the 1745-46 Jacobite Uprising, and the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil. The place’s historical significance cannot be overstated, nor can the experience of visiting it some 276 years after the Duke of Cumberland’s forces routed the Jacobites in one blood-soaked hour. Today, the site is cared for by the National Trust for Scotland and there are several ways to immerse yourself in the past, including a 360° presentation and an effective audio tour. You can also seek out stones that mark the resting places of different clans. 

Insider knowledge: Part of the government’s’ success came from the surprise tactic of bayoneting the opponent standing to their right instead of the one directly in front of them. This, in part, led to the death toll of around 1,000 Jacobites. 

Ready to go?: The battlefield is open daily, and the visitor centre is open 10am-4pm on Wednesday-Sunday. Closed entirely between 24 December and 11 January 2023. Wheelchairs are provided freely, and powered scooters can be borrowed. The trail through the battlefield has regular benches if you’d prefer to break