This year we have been amazed by the amount of people coming to Scotland after reading or watching ‘Outlander’ the fictional series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. We usually get a few people who’ve read the series and what to know more but this year with the launch of the TV show things have grown so much it’s sometimes tricky to keep up.
For those who aren’t in the know the series follows Claire Beauchamp as she falls back through time through a set of standing stones from the 1940’s ending up in 1743. Here she meets Jamie Fraser and has to find her way in 18th Century Scotland. The stories cover the history leading up to and beyond Culloden and have been read by millions worldwide.
So, with that in mind we thought we’d share a bit of our Outlander story. When we found out that Outlander was being made into a TV series we were a bit dubious about how well Scotland and the 18th Century would be portrayed. Luckily we were soon reassured as people came to Culloden to scout the location and make sure everything was accurate. Filming took place at a number of National Trust for Scotland properties so there was lots of excitement on how the final product would appear.
In January we managed to get hold of the first half of series one and in preparation for the new year ahead a few of us sat down to watch. Unfortunately, the some of us included two male learning officers who were, shall we say, reluctant to participate. Watching the shows with two men pointing out every historical inaccuracy made the experience unique to say the least but we all had to admit by the end that they’d done a pretty good job in bringing the stories to life.
Since then we’ve tried to become Outlander experts and guide people to interesting spots on their journey around Scotland. Obviously lots of people come to us her at Culloden. As such a big part of the second book and series people are drawn to our bleak field and many cant help but stop at the Fraser stone on the field which these days usually has a flower or two at its side. However, it’s also nice to know a few other places where visitors can go and explore more about the series.
The mystical stones of Craigh na Dun in the books, where Claire falls back through time, are just five minutes from the battlefield. Gabaldon based the stone on the site of Clava Cairns an ancient burial ground with chambered cairns surrounded by standing stones. There is even one that has a cleft running down the centre and is supposedly the stone through which Claire falls through time. Granted they may not look the same as the TV series but when you visit the site there is a calm atmosphere that lends itself to the imagination.
Inverness plays a part in the series as well. But the 1940’s Inverness of the books doesn’t look quite the same as the modern day city. For the backdrop to those scenes you’ll need to head to Falkland in Fife where you can see the Bruce Fountain in the town square as well as the guesthouse and shops from the very first Outlander episode.
For a feel of the 18th Century though we recommend heading to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore where they have 18th Century crafting houses that formed the Mackenzie village the highlanders travel to whilst collecting rent. As you walk around you will able to spot plenty of sites where filming took place.
For more filming locations check out Culross in Fife which doubled as the home town for Geillis Duncan, Preston Mill whose backdrop viewers will certainly recognise from scenes in the 1940’s and if you want to be taken back to the woods of old head to Tulloch Ghru in the Cairngorms.
Of course there is also Doune Castle which stand in for Castle Leoch in the TV series. However, the true seat of Clan Mackenzie is Castle Leod which is found in the Highlands near Strathpeffer. It was here that Diana Gabaldon, who became a guardian of the castle, planted a rowan tree and is now backing a campaign to help save the castle.
If you’re a fan of Outlander there’s plenty to see and do but the best thing for us is meeting everyone who has read the books or seen the show and been inspired to come and learn the true history and investigate their own Scottish ancestry. So, if you do come to Scotland be sure to come and say hello to us and we’ll help you find your clan, tell you about some real Jacobites and hopefully inspire you even more.
Oh, and just before I forget, we’ve also got some Outlander inspired merchandise in the shop, including the Outlander ring which is based on Jamie and Claires wedding ring and of course all of the books.
Hope you enjoyed the post please like, share, tweet, comment and if you haven’t yet maybe pick up a copy of Outlander and see what all the fuss is about.
All the best K & D