Why You Need To Visit The New Perth Museum!

Friday 12th April 2024

The wait is finally over and the doors are open to the amazing new Perth Museum! As one of Scotland’s most historic cities, Perth deserves more people exploring its streets and discovering its story. There’s no better place to start than here.

While the greatest draw for people to visit Perth Museum is undoubtedly the Stone of Destiny, there’s far more to see inside.

Inside Perth Museum
Credit – Greg Holmes

This is a wide-ranging collection, with something to suit everybody’s interests. It offers a glimpse into every aspect of life in Perth and Kinross over thousands of years. Without spoiling all the surprises, let me take you on a short tour through some highlights to prove why you must visit Perth Museum!

How To Get To Perth Museum

You can find the new Perth Museum in the centre of the oldest part of Perth. It’s right next to St John’s Kirk which has origins all the way back in the 1100s. The perfect historic location for a building containing some of Perth’s most precious artefacts.

Outside Perth Museum


Perth is perfectly positioned for visitors to reach, in the middle of Scotland, which is a large part of the reason the city developed in the first place. For drivers, you can get to Perth Museum in just over an hour from Edinburgh or Glasgow with public car parks dotted around the nearby streets.

There are also direct trains into Perth from all of  Scotland’s major cities, with the museum just a 15 minute walk away. If you’d rather take the bus then you can walk to the bus station in just 10 minutes!

How Much Does Perth Museum Cost?

One of the best reasons for you to visit Perth Museum is that it’s free to enter! In a time when budgets are being squeezed, it’s great to have somewhere that offers hours of entertainment for no cost. It’s important to note that although accessing the Stone of Destiny is free, due to limited space, you still need to book a ticket here.

How Much Does Perth Museum Cost


Visiting Perth Museum does give you the chance to see special exhibits which have an additional cost. These are entirely optional and the current exhibit Unicorn costs £10 for adults or £8 for concessions. The only other costs you might have are a trip to the museum shop or a delicious cake from the cafe!

Is Perth Museum Good For Children?

A visit to Perth Museum is one for all the family to enjoy. While history nerds like myself relish reading every single sign, that doesn’t always please everybody. Thankfully, there are interactive games dotted around for children and those with short attention spans.

Is Perth Museum Good For Children?


They’ll learn about how archery was considered a vital skill in medieval Scotland through a target practice computer game. For a more physical challenge, build a tower before catapulting a bean bag right through the walls. If games sound like too much work, they can always just watch the swirling light show on lit up Pictish stones!

History Of Perth Museum’s Building

While you need to visit Perth Museum for the heritage held inside, the story of the building itself can’t be ignored. This was originally Perth City Hall, built where a busy market once stood and part of St John’s graveyard before that. It was constructed on top of its predecessor around a hundred years ago.

City Hall saw political rallies, concerts, important meetings and lectures as well as public displays. The biggest bands of the day played to huge crowds inside such as Lulu, The Who and the Bay City Rollers. Local events took place here as well, with school concerts, music competitions and ever popular ceilidhs.

Historic Perth City Hall

Then in 2005, Perth Concert Hall opened and the old City Hall was considered redundant. It lay empty and unloved for a decade while a decision was made on its future. Thankfully, the demolition proposal didn’t go ahead and after eight years of work, we’ve been treated to the amazing new Perth Museum!

Visit The Ancient Stone Of Destiny

Right in the centre of the main room stands the top reason most people will want to visit Perth Museum. The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, is one of Scotland’s most important relics. Once you have your time-allotted ticket, you can sit back and enjoy the show.

Visit Stone of Destiny
The Stone of Destiny – © Culture Perth & Kinross/Rob McDougall

There’s a short, immersive audio-visual display to enjoy before you see the Stone itself. Starting with news reports of the Stone of Destiny’s liberation by four Glasgow students in 1950, it then dives right back through history. Legend says that this stone has been used to crown dozens of Kings of Scots after arriving in Scone from Argyll – a long way from its supposed Biblical origins.

Stone of Scone Perth Museum

The Stone of Destiny – © Culture Perth & Kinross/Rob McDougall

The next stage of the Stone of Destiny experience is a chance to see it for yourself. Fortunately, wandering around the Stone in its glass case makes it far easier to see than it ever was at Edinburgh Castle. After a couple of minutes, a new film starts on the walls around you, telling the story of the coronation of King Alexander III. He was one of the last Kings crowned on this ancient stone before it was stolen by Edward of England in 1296.

Row Back Into Ancient Perthshire

Back in the main room of Perth Museum, the story of Perthshire starts with an amazing 3000-year old log boat. It was carved from a single enormous oak tree and shows how the River Tay has always been vital to Perth. Without the river and the boats that traversed it, the city would never have existed!

Carpow Log Boat


This isn’t the only ancient artefact you’ll find on your visit to Perth Museum, but some are far more mysterious. The collection of Neolithic stone balls, all carved into strange shapes, boggle the mind. These were all discovered in Perthshire, but similar odd balls have been found across Scotland. To this day, nobody has been able to work out what they were used for.

Neolithic Stone Balls


While we know little about the religion of those who lived in ancient Perthshire, archaeology can give us clues. Perth Museum has displays explaining the ancient ritual sites that came before the iconic standing stones. Even more fascinating than that though is the collection of Bronze Age swords, seemingly thrown into the River Tay as an offering to some unknown power.

Discover The Kingdom Of The Picts

From ancient times, we move into the age of the Picts – inhabitants of mostly the east and north of Scotland from the 4th to 9th centuries. Perthshire was one of the most important regions to them, especially their seat of power in Forteviot. It’s no surprise then that Perth Museum would have some amazing carved Pictish Stones on display!

Perth Museum Pictish Stone


Most people will immediately be drawn to St Madoes Stone from the 8th century. This cross slab shows dogs and lions snarling, lit up to show what its original colours may have been. On the reverse, cloaked riders are joined by strange symbols and a Pictish beast!

Pictish Stone Ogham


More interesting than that is the nearby Inchyra Stone. At the top, you’ll spot a fish and the double-disc symbol, but that’s not what makes it so fascinating. Along the edge is an inscription in Ogham, an Old Irish alphabet, spelling out words that are as yet untranslated.

Learn About Later Medieval Perth

In the high to late medieval period, Perth became one of the most important cities in the new Kingdom of Scotland. Sitting at the lowest crossing point of the Tay, where the Highlands meet the Lowlands, it was a popular home for Kings and Queens. There is a wealth of things to see in Perth Museum to tell the story of the area.

Artists Drawing of Perth


Artists have reconstructed the old Perth Castle as well as the street layout of Medieval Perth. There are axes and arrowheads from the conflicts that raged around Perthshire in a time of turmoil. However, it’s the everyday items that draw you closer to how people in Perth and Kinross once lived.

Perth Museum Axes


From shards of ceramic pots to the remnants of a 700 year old barrel to pots, pans and even hair coverings! These are the items that give somewhere like Perth Museum more of a local feeling. The fact that so many of these pieces originated in Europe show the importance of Perth as an international port.

Examine Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Sword

Another of the main reasons people will visit Perth Museum is to examine Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Sword. Made in 1739 by James Brown, a Perth craftsman, it was gifted to Charles by James Drummond, the Duke of Perth. Drummond visited the exiled Jacobite court that year, bringing this sword with him to remind the Stuarts of their Scottish roots.

Bonnie Prince Charlie's Sword Perth Museum


Below that dangling sword sits a rare and very delicate Jacobite wine glass. The Duke of Perth’s motto “Gang Warily” is engraved alongside a Scottish thistle. Glasses like this were used by Jacobites to toast “The King Across The Water”.

Jacobite Glass Perth Museum


Perth and Kinross is an important area for Jacobite history, armies marched through from the start to the end of the risings. Pivotal battles took place at Killiecrankie, Dunkeld and Sheriffmuir as the Jacobites and the Government fought to control this crucial crossroads.

Reminisce With Romantic Victorian Perthshire

The post-Jacobite era saw plenty of change in Scotland, first with the coming of the Continental Wars. Troops were drilled on both North and South Inch before heading off to fight. Perth was fortified against French ships sailing up the Tay and one of the defensive cannons can be found in Perth Museum.

Victorian Romantic Perthshire


Then the romantic Victorian period arrived and writers like Walter Scott reimagined Highland Perthshire as a playground full of tartan and empty of people. It’s encapsulated perfectly in the paintings of sweeping, mountainous landscapes by Horatio McCulloch. Next to that, the 6th Duke of Atholl looks on in full Highland regalia.

Remember Modern Perthshire

A visit to Perth Museum isn’t just about travelling hundreds of years back in time, there are more modern displays of Perthshire life to see. From a penny farthing bicycle to old shop signs and banners from the suffrage movement. There’s even an Egyptian-style sarcophagus…from the 1959 film production of The Mummy!

Modern Perth


For lovers of sport, there are trophies, a curling stone and of course a St Johnston football top on display. A large (and loud) projector screen offers visitors a glimpse into Perth’s music scene throughout the decades. Take a seat on the bench and reminisce about your favourite tunes from the 1950s right up to the modern day!

The Unicorn Exhibition

It might be the only display that isn’t free but the Unicorn Exhibition is one of the biggest draws for visitors to Perth Museum. Running until September 2024, Unicorn explores Scotland’s National Animal as well as its modern day symbolism. Some of these objects are simply breathtaking.

Unicorn Coat of Arms


The Unicorn has been a symbol of Scotland since at least the reign of James I who adopted it as the country’s National Animal. It might seem strange to choose a mythical animal but they were believed to be as real as lions and elephants. On display are three 13th century beastiaries, books with drawings and descriptions of these incredible animals.

Unicorn Exhibit Perth Museum


Often depicted in chains with a crown around their neck, the Unicorn was considered so dangerous that they could never be fully tamed. Their horns were thought to purify water and food of poison and the 700-year-old narwhal tusk may have been used to trick somebody with deep pockets! The tusks would be formed into something like the beautiful Elizabethan pendant on loan from the V&A.

Perth Museum is open 7 days a week from 10am, is fully accessible with a ramp to the entrance and lifts to all floors.

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This article is part of a partnership with Perth Museum and Scotland’s Storeis. All opinions and words are by Scotland’s Stories. This blog originally featured on the Scotland’s Stories page.