Kirbuster Farm Museum

Kirbuster Farm Museum

Kirbuster Farm Museum nestled in the Birsay countryside (F Grahame)

Kirbuster FarmIt was thirty years ago that George Argo gifted the buildings at Kirbuster Farm to Orkney Islands Council. The Orkney News went back to look at one of the most delightful places to visit in Orkney.

Last inhabited in 1963 Kirbuster Farm House covers centuries of Orkney farming history. The earliest known building on the site is the Firehoose which goes back to at least 1595. To put this in context: James VI was King of Scots and William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet had its first performance.

The firehoose has a central hearth and no chimney. The smoke from the slow burning peats meanders up into the roof space eventually escaping out a hole in the roof. Inside the room are all the items used by a family at this time including many straw products which The Orkney News has featured. A large recess in the wall exposes a box bed – remember Skara Brae if you have previously visited there. The doorways are low but the roof is high so there is a feeling of space within the room.


The bedrooms are part of an extension to the firehoose that took place about 1723 and lead into a parlour as it was in the early 20th C.

Kirbuster Farm

In the Parlour (F Grahame)

The parlour is where only the best of guests would be allowed into. My granny had a front room at 305 Easter Road that was kept like that. Pristine.

Outside you can see the stables and the byres. The outbuildings are full of farm implements that range over several centuries – some now redundant but others still familiar in their shape, form and function.

The kiln which is similar to the one at Skaill Farm Rousay, is currently closed off but is due to be restored.


Kirbuster Farm is full of the most amazing objects but it is when you wander outside that you really see the wonder of it. The gardens have been restored and would have been a Victorian ornamental garden having been originally a much needed vegetable plot. There is a whale bone archway and paths leading through mature sycamores and flower borders.

Kirbuster Farm

The gardens (F Grahame)

Round the back of the buildings is another area planted with trees: The Trowie Trail, excellent for kids of all ages to explore.

The first mention of Kirkbuster (kirkju-boldstadr) is in 1595 when it was worth 1 barrel butter, 9 pultrie (hens).

To me this place is now priceless. It is impossible to place a monetary value on such an important part of Orkney’s social history. Like all the museums run by Orkney Islands Council it is free admission. Certainly one not to be missed by locals and visitors alike.

You can watch a video of it here:


or view it on The Orkney News YouTube channel 

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

Related story: Corrigall Farm Museum


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2 replies »

  1. I visited the farm this past month and found it so delightful to step back in time. I believe the man there, was Neil…He was very helpful explaining about the farm.

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