Our History

Laidhay is a two hundred year old rush thatched Caithness longhouse just north of Dunbeath, and is a typical example of the older style of Caithness croft dwellings. These were a familiar feature of the agricultural landscape prior to the improvements of the 18th and 19th centuries. The croft museum incorporates the modified longhouse of the main building – the dwelling, with the stable and byre at each end, the detached barn with the original cruck roof and a cart shed to the south. There is also a modern shed, built to contain the museums large collection of farming implements.

Laidhay Croft, which comprises 16 acres of arable together with rights over 15 acres of rough grazing, came into the the possession of the Bethune family in 1842 and remained with them until 1968. William (Beil) was the last to live here.

In 1969 the building came up for sale and was purchased by Malcolm Cameron. It was also about this time that Mr Bert Mowat, proprietor of the Portland Arms Hotel, Lybster, made the suggestion that the croft should be restored as a museum. In 1970 the Laidhay Trust was set up with the building finally opening to the public in 1974.

If you are interested in crofting history and the rural past, or if you are just exploring the county of Caithness, come to the Museum and see how people lived and worked, and how Laidhay fitted into the local community throughout its lifetime.