The Tarbat Discovery Centre

You will be impressed with this. A modern discovery centre set in a wonderful old church. No garish modern building but a part of the local heritage fitting in with the traditional landscape. The centre interprets finds from a major archaeological dig, using a variety of presentation techniques including computers. Emphasis is on explaining the Picts and displaying their wonderful carved stones. This locally led initiative using the past to develop a contemporary sense of community. The centre displays finds from a Pictish monastery, which is still under excavation. NMS has offered the project first choice of the finds for display and has been loaning material for exhibitions.

Tarbat Discovery Centre (Pictish interpretive 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. The centre has all of the modern conveniences such as wheelchair lifts so that everyone can enjoy the information, displays and theatre. You can find out how the archaeologists have slowly uncovered the ancient treasures at Tarbat.

Tarbat Discovery Programme

Tarbat Historic Trust is a recognised Scottish Charity, part funded by the Highland Council. Other funding has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Ross and Cromarty Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund, the University of York and the National Museum of Scotland. The local community has also given very generously to the Trust.

The Tarbat Discovery Programme is a collaborative project between the Tarbat Historic Trust, Highland Council and the University of York. It is carried out by Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd, York, for the Department of Archaeology, University of York and is jointly directed by Martin Carver, Justin Garner-Lahire, Annette Roe and Cecily Spall.

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. The centre tells the story of the Picts and of the archaeology that discovered it all.

The project began in 1994 and the aims of the partnership were:

  • To restore the church of St Colman at Portmahomack, acquired by Tarbat Historic Trust for £1 in 1980.
  • To research the Pictish, Norse and Medieval site in which the church stands and its context in the Moray Firth area.
  • To mount an exhibition in the restored church which displays the discoveries made by the research programme.

Opening Hours
1st Sat in March to 1st Sat in May – 2:00pm – 5:00pm
1st Sun in May to last Sat in Sep – 10:00am – 5:30pm
Last Sun in Sep to 23rd Dec – 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Closed January and February

Tarbat Discovery Centre – Portmahomack
Pictish and Local Heritage Museum
Telephone: 01862 871351
Fax: 01862 871361
Email: i…


Tarbat Discovery Centre
Tarbatness Road, Portmahomack, Tain
Ross-shire IV20 1YA
Scotland, UK

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