From prehistoric times to the present day, artefacts, documents and photographs illustrate the history of Dollar. A brief description of some of what may be seen is given below.


Local finds from Bronze Age burials on loan from the National Museums of Scotland give an insight into early inhabitants of the Hillfoots. Aerial photographs and maps show where the archaeological finds were made.

Castle Campbell c.1850

Castle Campbell

Later inhabitants of Dollar lived in the shadow of Castle Gloum, renamed Castle Campbell, the lowland dwelling of the Earls of Argyll.

The Castle was burnt in 1654, and the ruin was sold along with the local Campbell lands around 1800. Early travellers and artists have left evidence of how the castle and village looked at this time, and these may be seen in the museum.

Dollar Academy

The small village with a woollen mill and a bleachfield changed after local boy John McNabb left a fortune which was used to found Dollar Academy in 1818. Dollar grew as the New Town was built to accommodate teachers, boarders and the families who moved to Dollar to take advantage of the low fees paid by residents of the village. Dollar Academy has gone on to become one of the top independent schools in Scotland.


The Old Kirk of 1775 became too small to accommodate the congregation and in 1842 the New Church was built. The Disruption led to the building of the Free Church (the West Church, now private housing) and the 19th century also saw the building of the U.P. Church (now the East Burnside Hall) and the Episcopal Church, St James the Great.

Lavinia Malcolm

Town Council

By the end of the 19th century Dollar had its own Town Council, and in 1913 the honour of having the first Lady Provost in Scotland: Lavinia Malcolm. Dollar Town Council disappeared with local government reorganisation in 1976, but a record of all the Provosts, together with photographs and other items are on display in the museum.

The Devon Valley Railway

Steam train at Dollar Station

The railway came to Dollar in 1869. From the 1950s until closure to passengers in 1964, Peter Wilson attempted to document all aspects of the Devon Valley Railway. He took photographs of the stations from Alloa to Kinross and recorded many bridges, signals, gradient signs, etc. He also collected timetables, tickets and leaflets. We have built on his collection and some interesting donations are on display. With the help of Awards for All, a completely new exhibition was mounted in 2009 and all 750 photographs taken by Peter Wilson can be seen in a slideshow. These are also documented in a searchable database and with funding assistance from the Scottish Community Foundation and EDF Energy Renewables have now all been printed.

Granny's Kitchen

Granny's Kitchen

With generous donations from Dollar people, we have been able to furnish our Granny's Kitchen with an array of household items from washing dollies and wooden pulleys to butter pats and flat irons. Children will be particularly interested to see how a Dollar kitchen might have looked at the end of the 19th century.

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Temporary Exhibitions 2017

Adam Robson - Man of Many Parts

Ten years after his death in 2007, Dollar Museumís new exhibition pays tribute to Adam Robson - Man of Many Parts: Artist, Rugby Internationalist, Teacher, Writer, Poet.

Adam Robson

Adam Robson was a nationally important landscape artist whose work hangs in many galleries and was displayed in numerous exhibitions during his lifetime. For this exhibition Dollar Museum has borrowed a large selection of oils, watercolours and drawings, illustrating particularly the local area and his much-loved Shetland. His image-rich designs for stained glass windows in Dollar Parish Church, Strathcarron and the Beatson and his many stunning designs for kneelers and cushions in Iona Abbey are also represented in the exhibition.

But Adam was not only an artist. He was also a rugby internationalist who represented Scotland on 22 occasions and he was President of the Scottish Rugby Union when Scotland last won the Grand Slam in 1983/1984. We have been extremely lucky to be able to borrow from Hawick Rugby Club a wonderful framed collage of touch flags from Scotlandís winning matches. And among the other memorabilia is his Barbarians shirt, lent by his family.

Adam grew up in Hawick but as a boy he spent part of every summer with his motherís family in Shetland, travelling there on the Earl of Zetland. He later acquired the family croft on Yell and became fascinated by the story of this boat and its successor, the Earl of Zetland II. He wrote two books on the Earls, with many illustrations, and these may be seen in Dollar Museum.

Shetland Crofts

Another aspect of Adamís life was his work as a teacher. As Head of Art at Dollar Academy he influenced many pupils and some of their memories of Adam as a teacher feature in the exhibition. He reached adults through the Dollar Art Group which he founded and the very successful Dollar Summer School in the Arts of which he was Principal from 1960-81. In addition to all these interests, Adam was an Elder of Dollar Parish Church, a published poet and a much-loved family man. Dollar Museum is grateful to Adamís daughters and to all those who have lent items and given us help and encouragement in setting up this ambitious exhibition.

Football in Dollar

The beautiful game, from the first reference in 1869, through the years of Dollar Glen and Dollar United, the Coronation Fives, Pub games and coming up-to-date with the re-establishment of Dollar Glen FC in 1997. Photographs and trophies are on display.

Those who find the stairs up to the Reading Room difficult will be pleased that they may now sit and look at photos downstairs.

Dollar and the Orient

An exhibition illustrating Dollar's links with China and Japan.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, near Dollar, was created by Ella Christie, an intrepid Victorian traveller who was the first European woman to visit Tibet. She employed a Japanese garden designer, Taki Handa, and a gardener, Shinzaburo Matsuo, who lived beside the garden for many years. The garden was described by Professor Suzuki as 'the best in the western world' and had many visitors, including Queen Mary.

James Legge travelled to China as a missionary and translator and later became the first Professor of Chinese at Oxford University. He sent his children to Dollar Academy and while on leave in Dollar in 1867 he invited the scholar Wang T'ao to help him translate the Chinese classics into English. Wang T'ao kept a diary during his two-year trip and wrote lively descriptions of his travels from Hong Kong to Scotland. The exhibition concentrates on his experiences in and around Dollar.

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Some Past Exhibitions 1988 - 2015

Japanese Gardens at Cowden
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Page updated 8 April 2017