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Old and New Doors Open Free This September

28th August 2011

Photograph of Old and New Doors Open Free This September

Ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors? Every September, the national Doors Open Days offers free access to landmark buildings, private homes and usually private work spaces that the public never normally get a chance to see.

The Highland programme is co-ordinated by The Highland Council and Inverness City Heritage Trust. This year, over 35 sites will be open in The Highland Council area, ranging from state-of-the-art modern facilities to ancient castles and nuclear bunkers.

Doors Open Days is an opportunity to showcase interesting modern architecture.

This year, participants can take a special guided tour of the Highland Archive and Registration Centre. The Centre, which cost 10.5 million, was opened by HRH The Earl of Wessex in 2009 and provides state-of-the-art facilities for the preservation of archives.

Special tours will also be available at the Centre for Health Science, a multi-user facility located adjacent to Raigmore Hospital. One of the first of its kind in the UK, it specialises in health-related teaching, research and patient care.

Other modern architecture to feature includes Glachbeg Croft Centre, North Kessock, an environmentally sustainable building with distinctive turf roof, Eden Court Theatre, one of the UK's largest art centres and Maggie's Highland, where visitors can learn about the work of Maggie's and the importance of their buildings and surroundings.

Historic buildings opening their doors for the event include 16th century Ballone Castle near Portmahomack; Cromarty House, an imposing Georgian mansion built in 1772; and Inverness Town House, built in the Victorian Gothic style between 1878 and 1881 and housing a fine range of historic portraits, painting and busts.

A range of historic churches across the area can be explored, from St John the Evangelists Church in Wick, built in 1868-70 and Berriedale Church, designed and built by Thomas Telford to St Mary's Catholic Church, Inverness, which has impressive stained glass windows and Wardlaw Mausoleum, the late Medieval burial place of the Lovat Frasers.

For something completely different, visit the Highland Astronomical Society's JSL Observatory at Culloden to learn about the night sky; take a guided tour of Inverness Sheriff Court, standing on the site of the Medieval castle of Inverness or explore the Council's Emergency Centre - a top secret underground bunker built by the RAF during WWII.

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning, Environment and Development Committee said: "We are really happy to support this annual event across the Highlands. As well as allowing visitors into some of the oldest buildings in the Highlands, we are really pleased that visitors will be able to see round some of the more exciting and innovative new buildings, potentially our historic buildings of the future. The event hopefully has something for everyone and is an excellent opportunity to get to see what really goes on in the buildings that we pass every day. I would like to thank Inverness City Heritage Trust, our organising partners, and, of course, all the building owners and managers who have opened their doors and made this event possible."

The full Doors Open Day programme is available to download from, printed copies are also available in Highland Libraries and service points.

In Caithness the Doors Open Day takes place on 17th September 2011.

Berriedale Church in Caithness, Scotland
Berriedale Church closed in 2006 with the final service being held on 1st October 2006.
See photos from that day at

The Caithness Buildings open on 17th September are -
Berriedale Church
Built in 1826, Berriedale Church is one of the 41 Parliamentary churches designed and built by Thomas Telford in the Highlands and is the only one to carry a date on a stone plaque over the door. Set in a peaceful location surrounded by gravestones, it was closed as a church recently but is now looked after by the Berriedale Church & Cemetery Association. It is available for weddings and other local events. Refreshments and toilet facilities available at nearby village hall.

Caithness Horizons, Thurso
Caithness Horizons opened to the public on the 1st December 2008 following the refurbishment of the Thurso Town Hall and adjacent Carnegie Library. Since opening the museum has been awarded a 5-star Visitor Attraction rating by VisitScotland and has achieved full Museum Accreditation. Caithness Horizons is home to a permanent and temporary exhibition gallery. In addition, Caithness Horizons has a lovely gift shop and
cafe which serves delicious home-baking. Caithness Horizons is fully accessible and is located on the High Street in Thurso. Parking is available immediately opposite the museum.

Church of St John the Evangelist, Wick
This Episcopal Church of Scotland, one of only two in Caithness, was designed by the architect Alexander Ross, and built in 1868-70. It has seating for approx 110 people. The church became a Category B Listed Building in 1997. The interior has a warm and friendly atmosphere, accentuated by impressive stained glass windows. There is a pipe organ by Harrison of Durham within the chancel.
*Note: Toilets in church hall on Moray Street not suitable for wheelchair users.

Clan Gunn Heritage Centre, Latheron
Clan Gunn Heritage Centre and Museum tells the story of one of Scotland's
oldest clans from its Viking origins to the present day.
The Centre holds an archive of Clan Gunn and its many related families.

Dunbeath Heritage Centre
Located in the Old School, Dunbeath Heritage Centre is an open door to the rich past of the Caithness Strath and the landscape of Neil Gunn's "Highland River" and "Silver Darlings". Information available on local history, as well as an exhibition about the "Wag of Forse", art installations and a bookshop. Accredited Museum with new exhibition area.

Waterlines Visitor Centre, Lybster
The history of the fishing industry in Lybster, at one time the third largest herring port in Scotland, and the natural heritage of the area is brought to life in a fascinating exhibition.


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