Massacre of Glencoe to be told in new 'immersive experience'

The horrors of the Glencoe Massacre will be told in a new "immersive experience" to be created as part of a £1.3 million museum upgrade.

Visitors to Glencoe Folk Museum will soon step back into a cottage in the glen on the night of the massacre to relive one of the darkest episodes in Scotland's history.

Half of the museum be given over to the display, where the home scene will be set with the crackle of real fire, shadowy figures on the wall and a mix of audio and visual retellings of real-life accounts of what happened on February 13, 1692.

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David Rounce, project director, said: "We will set up the room to give the impression of how it was, as if someone has just left it, and tell the real story of the Massacre of Glencoe, and bring it alive in a very visceral way. It was an atrocity and we will tell it in full, not in a gratuitous way, but in a way that really drives home what happened.

Glencoe Folk Museum is being restored and expanded in an £1.3million upgrade. PIC: Contributed.

“We want to bring it to life using more than just dry facts. We want this to get to you on a gut level.”

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Mr Rounce said the personal stories would be set within the religious, political and cultural environment that surrounded the massacre, when 38 men of Clan MacDonald were killed by royalist forces following an order from King William.

He believed the clan had been too slow in pledging their support for him, the government having earlier offered an indemnity to all chiefs who took an oath of allegiance before January 1, 1692.

The massacre claimed the lives of 38 MacDonald clansmen with around 40 women and children perishing in the snow after fleeing their townships. PIC: Creative Commons.

Alexander MacDonald of Glencoe postponed his submission until December 31, 1691, but was unable to take his oath until January 6 because there no magistrate was available at Fort William.

Soldiers, who spent more than a week accepting hospitality from MacDonalds, launched their savage attacks at daybreak. A further 40 women and children died from exposure after feeling their townships as violence broke out.

Mr Rounce said design work was “rapidly advancing” on the redevelopment. While the museum will open next month, the new room dedicated to the massacre will be ready next year.

While the aim is to create a museum “fit for the 21st century”, Mr Rounce said a toilet would also be fitted in the building for the first time. A new building will be created to the back of the museum cottages, where a new reception area, gift shop and exhibition space will open up.

An early design of the new immersive experience at the Glencoe Folk Museum which will tell the story of the Glencoe Massacre. PIC: Contributed.
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Founded in the 1960s, the museum holds more than 6,000 artefacts and chronicles daily life in the Glencoe area between the 17th and 21st centuries,

Highlights of the collection include a coffin boat used to transport bodies to the clan burial island of Eilean Munde and a replica of the mysterious Bronze age Ballachulish Goddess.

In a good pre-Covid year, the museum attracted around 7,000 visitors, with the aim to grow this to more than 20,000 by 2027/28.

Mr Rounce said: “This might sound completely crazy, but we knew that around half a million tourists are passing a few hundred yards away on the A82. What we are trying to do is encourage a few more thousand of them to turn off and come to the museum.”

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