The Pilgrimage Centre
The Pilgrimage is a modern visitor centre built in a 17th century schoolhouse in the churchyard. It tells the story of medieval pilgrimage to Tain in two colourful galleries using images and sound. There is a range of activities including dressing up and a CD tour of the town. The museum shop is in this building, which is on three floors with a wheelchair lift and a wheelchair accessible toilet.
The ground floor gallery illustrates the life and times of King James IV of Scotland, who made at least 18 pilgrimages to the shrine of St Duthac in Tain between 1493 and 1513. James IV was an energetic and forward-looking ruler who was responsible for introducing a number of innovations to Scotland including printing and the country's first medical school. He was a pious man and expressed his guilt over his involvement in his father's murder at Sauchieburn in 1488 by wearing around his waist an iron chain to which a new link was added each year. He made regular pilgrimages to shrines across Scotland: these were opportunities for making his presence felt in the remote and sometimes unsettled parts of the country.
Upstairs, the Town Loft Gallery describes St Duthac's miracles and the building of the collegiate church. The story is told through a series of paintings commissioned from a local artist and a haunting sound track. For those who want more background information there are panels of explanatory text. The display also includes sculpted heads of some of the characters who played a part in this period of Tain's history, including St Duthac himself.
When you leave the Pilgrimage you can take a CD tour of the church and town, included in the admission charge. The tour of the church and churchyard takes about 20 minutes and helps to bring the ancient buildings to life. The tour of the town takes up to an hour. It points out many interesting and historic buildings and features and tells some of the stories of the town as you go round.
The museum shop is located at the Pilgrimage entrance. It stocks a wide range of gifts and souvenirs, local history books and Clan Ross mementoes. Credit cards are accepted.