Hugh Miller’s Birthplace teacher information

Hugh Miller was born in Cromarty in 1802. His home was a cottage, built in 1698 with crowstepped gables and tiny windows. In 1797, Hugh’s father built a new house next door.

Hugh Miller started work as a stonemason and rose to fame as an eminent geologist, admired by Darwin. Largely self-taught, he became a renowned scientist through his study of fossils, during the early Victorian period. He was also an important collector of folklore and a profuse writer of stories, books and newspaper articles. He was at the centre of social and religious controversies that included the Clearances and the ‘Disruption’  – the setting up of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843.

Miller was a consummate observer of everything! He had a great ability to spot anomalies and he used this skill in his studies of the amazing rocks around Cromarty. Like several scientists of the day, Miller’s work clashed with some of his religious beliefs. Despite this,  Miller made a significant
contribution to the (then) new science of geology, which led to a greater understanding of evolution and how the Earth was formed.

Miller House is now a museum - the displays cover themes from Miller’s life, including an excellent collection of fossils. Interactive displays for children, including real fossils to handle and study, ensure that they engage with the topics. The school programme offers opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. 

A school visit includes a guided tour of the Museum, a guided tour of the Birthplace Cottage and a visit to Miller’s Yard: Garden of Wonders with its giant fossils. Pupils may also enjoy visiting the Lydia garden with its sundial and well. The gardens are small but have several features of interest which are popular with children.

A variety of taught classes are offered, including those covering the themes of Treasury of Shapes, Treasury of Words and Treasury of Objects.
Bespoke classes can also be arranged – just contact us with your requirements.

Possible topics

  • Victorians
  • Fossils and geology
  • Scottish folklore

Resources for schools

  • An illustrated guidebook (on sale at the Museum)
  • Children’s guidebook (on sale at the Museum)

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please contact Hugh Miller’s Museum for a booking form.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • The Birthplace Cottage & Museum are open for school visits in the mornings (9–11.45am) during the summer season. We open to all visitors in the afternoon. Schools may visit in the winter months, by special arrangement.
  • Maximum class size: 30 pupils, with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult helper to 10 pupils
  • Access: we regret that these historic buildings have no access for wheelchair users, apart from the ground floor of the Birthplace Cottage.
  • Parking: there is limited parking nearby and the streets are very narrow. The property manager can advise you on the best place when booking your class visit.
  • Toilet: there is 1 toilet in the Museum. There are also public toilets in the village.
  • Refreshments: there is no café on site. 15 pupils (at a time) can picnic in the courtyard garden behind Miller House – or there is a grassy area for picnicking beside the pebble beach at The Links (a 5-minute walk from the Museum).
  • The site has been risk assessed. Teachers should prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.

Charges

  • There is no admission charge for schools with Trust educational membership.
  • Non-members are welcome but there is an admission charge of £2 per pupil.
  • School visits in the winter months will incur a small extra charge, per pupil, to cover costs (please phone to discuss).
  • Accompanying adults are admitted free.
  • All class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • On arrival: please report to the Admission Desk in the Museum (Miller House).
  • Trust staff will lead the tours in the Museum and Cottage.
  • The duration of a visit depends on your requirements but usually lasts 1-1.5 hours.
  • Classes will be split into two: one group will tour the Museum and Miller’s Yard, and the other will tour the Cottage and Lydia Garden – the groups then swap round.
  • The village of Cromarty is an interesting historic village - you may want to allow some extra time for a teacher-led walk around some of the streets.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • We regret that no photos or films may be taken in the Museum or Cottage but they can be taken in the gardens.
  • Coats and bags can be left in the Museum.
  • Shop: there is a small shop that pupils can visit in small groups, with teacher supervision.
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