Bunker Museology

Reincarnating a Scottish Cold War Monument as the Gairloch Museum


  • Jim Gledhill Independent scholar




bunkers, Cold War, community museums, monuments, Scotland, (un)official heritage


After the Cold War ended in 1991, many former nuclear bunkers were discarded by the British state and left as field monuments. This article examines the two-stage evolution of bunker museology in Scotland, wherein these archaeological remains have been converted into museums, initially by private collector-enthusiasts and latterly by community groups. My case study of the Gairloch Museum in the Wester Ross documents the reincarnation of a Cold War monument as a community museum, illustrating the positive potential of transforming unofficial into official heritage with the participation of local people. The Gairloch Museum is considered alongside two other local bunker restoration projects in Edinburgh and Dundee, advocating the need for public bodies to give greater priority to the preservation of Cold War heritage in Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.

Author Biography

  • Jim Gledhill, Independent scholar

    Jim Gledhill PhD FSAScot is an independent scholar specialising in British and German contemporary history. He was previously curator of social history at the Museum of London and York Castle Museum, and curator of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum at Edinburgh Castle. He held the posts of Research Fellow at National Museums Scotland and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Stirling working on the Materialising the Cold War project between 2021 and 2023.


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Research Article

How to Cite

Gledhill, J. (2024). Bunker Museology: Reincarnating a Scottish Cold War Monument as the Gairloch Museum. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 10(2), 171-191. https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.23925