Tarbat Discovery Centre

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Tarbatness Road Portmahomack
IV20 1YA

Tarbat Discovery Centre is a Museum situated in an old church in the beautiful coastal village of Portmahomack, 42 miles North East of Inverness. Having been abandoned in 1946 the dilapidated building was saved from ruin in 1980, when it was purchased by the newly formed Tarbat Old Parish Church Preservation Trust. From an aerial photograph taken in 1984 a curious ‘semi-circular crop mark’ was spotted in a field south west of the church. A small excavation of the ditch, carried out in 1991, produced material of a date, which presented the possibility of an earlier Pictish settlement on the site. At the same time, whilst clearing the inside of the church, some small fragments of Pictish sculpture were uncovered. In 1993 the Trust invited Professor Martin Carver of York University to visit the site. Professor Carver was so intrigued that he returned with a team the following year to carry out a geophysical survey. The importance of the archaeology in determining the future of the building was profound and since 1996 major excavations have been ongoing at the site every summer. We now know the site to be the only Pictish monastic settlement found in Scotland to date. The settlement consists of dedicated workshops for glass-making, metal-working, vellum production and woodworking. There are also farming areas, a millpond and a surfaced road all of which date between the 6th and 11th century AD. There have been numerous beautiful pieces of sculpture unearthed both inside and outside the church and these are now on display inside the Museum. A total of six churches have existed within the building, the earliest of which dates back to 8th century and the Picts. Its numerous alterations have been incurred by an historical time-line of social, political and religious change. Opened in 1999, by H.R.H The Prince of Wales, the now beautifully, and sympathetically, restored building is a Museum dedicated to displaying and preserving the heritage of the Tarbat peninsula.

Further information

Opening Hours:

Open 7 days April-May 2pm-5pm May to October 10am-5pm Please check tarbat-discovery.co.uk for details Last entry - 4.15pm at all times Groups may visit outwith these hours by appointment Closed from November to April annually


Over 18: £4.00 12-17: £3.00 Under 12: Free Concessions: £3.00 Group discount on application

Upcoming events:

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.

Facilities and services


  • Auditorium
  • Parking for coaches
  • Shop
  • Toilets for disabled
  • Wheelchair access to some public areas


  • Adult lectures and courses held
  • Brochure or leaflet available with directions to museum
  • Large print information and/or interpretation
  • Pre-booking service for groups

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