Shock as museum on North Coast 500 route suddenly closes

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A museum on the North Coast 500 tourist route has suddenly shut due to financial issues.

Caithness Horizons in Thurso, Caithness, charted more 416million years of the area’s history and included collections relating to geology, Picts, the Vikings and the history of the Dounreay Nuclear Research establishment.

The Caithness Horizons museum in Thurso has closed suddenly. PIC:

The Caithness Horizons museum in Thurso has closed suddenly. PIC:

READ MORE: North Coast 500 route is beautiful - but do locals love it?

The museum, which was run as a charity, closed suddenly yesterday (Thursday) with its board of management saying it was no longer sustainable to keep Caithness Horizons open.

An entrance fee of £4 for adults was introduced last year, but it was not enough to save the museum.

Accounts lodged with Scotland’s charity regulator show that Caithness Horizons had an income of £394,429

in 2018 but that its expenditure was around £8,000 higher.

READ MORE: Remains of ‘Iron Age settlement’ found in Caithness

News of the closure has been met with dismay by residents and others working in the heritage sector.

The Caithness Broch Project said in a Facebook post that the closure was a “punch in the guts” for the area.

Another user commented: “This place is one of the wee gems way up north. So disappointing to hear news that it’s closing so suddenly.”

Another added: “I hate the way my hometown is becoming”.

In a statement, management thanked everyone who had supported the museum over the last 11 years.

The statement added: “This is a particularly difficult announcement for our remaining staff and we want to pay tribute to everyone who has gone above and beyond to try and make it a success, whether staff or volunteer, past or present.

“Over the years, the Caithness Horizons team has worked hard to ensure that our local culture and history has been shared.”

The museum is based in the town’s old town hall.

Highland Council, which owns the building, said it was in discussions with museum management about the future of Caithness Horizons.

The local authority added it had not cut any funding for the museum.