You can think of the tiny hamlet of Ardaneaskan as the end of the single track road that runs south west for some six miles along the shore of Loch Carron from Lochcarron. Until 1970 the northern half of the road was busy with traffic heading to or from the Strome Ferry to Stromeferry. But then the Stromeferry bypass was built around the north end of Loch Carron and down its south eastern shore, and the ferry service became redundant and the road leading to it much quieter than previously.
The result is that no-one finds themselves in Ardaneaskan who doesn't want to be there, and who hasn't made some effort to get there. It is a nice little place in its own right, but a real bonus for visitors is to discover (as we did from a small roadside sign) that there is a croft museum here. (Continues below image...)
To reach it you follow a track downhill towards the shore for fifty yards or so, into a group of cottages and outbuildings. The museum is housed in what looks to be an old barn. Some of the exhibits are leaning against or gathered around the building itself. Here you can find some examples of agricultural machinery, a rowing boat, and other items.
Opening the door of the museum reveals a true Aladdin's Cave of objects. This is a place that brings centre stage the question of the difference between a museum on the one hand, and an accumulation of stuff on the other. To put it another way, when do old objects gathered together become artefacts worthy of thought and viewing, rather than mere detritus?
For us the real fascination of this little museum is in the way such a large quantity of objects have been gathered together in what could easily seem a random and disorganised way. It is up to the visitor, standing in the not-very-large amount of floor space not covered by objects to make sense of it all, to visually explore the nooks, crannies and odd conjunctions of things. For example the small (toy?) till has nothing in common with the gas mask sitting next to it, except, perhaps, that they hark from a similar era.
It was at about that point that we began to truly appreciate the fascination of this place. We've not been able to find out who was responsible for gathering together this remarkable collection, or how the museum came to be (though if you know, we'd love to hear from you). In many ways it is the lack of information that adds to the experience: it just "is." Pretty much everything on view seems to be from the first half of the last century or earlier, including an old yellow Automobile Association/Royal Scottish Automobile Club road sign directing motorists to Strome Ferry.
We've seen the museum described as a collection of everyday objects from a crofter's life. With a wide variety of household and farming implements it's certainly that, but it's a great deal more as well.
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Grid Ref: NG 832 352