A Jacobite Tale

The Outlander Series of books is not the only time Jacobite history has appeared in works of fiction. In fact, the Jacobites and their complex history have intrigued writers for centuries.

Firstly, we step back to 1814 and Sir Walter Scott with this historical novel ‘Waverley’. This was Scott’s first venture into prose fiction and was originally published anonymously, although it is said almost every reviewer guessed it was his work and many readers recognised his hand. The novel is set during the ’45 rising and follows the story of one Edward Waverley, a young English soldier, as he is sent to Scotland and into the heart of the rebellion. When it was first published it was an astonishing success with the first edition of 1,000 copies selling out within two days. Critics widely praised Scott’s work and it became so popular that his later novels were advertised as being by the author of ‘Waverley’.

From Scott to Stevenson. Written as a ‘boys novel’ Robert Louis Stevensons story ‘Kidnapped’ was first published in the magazine ‘Young Folks’ in 1886 before becoming a novel. The story follows the adventures of David Balfour following the ’45 Rising and includes the ‘Appin Murder’ of 1752 in Ballachulish. Though many of the characters were real people the novel is not historically accurate. The book sold well whilst Stevenson was alive and he followed it up with a sequel ‘Catriona’ but the themes were more romantic than adventurous and it did not reach the same level of fame as ‘Kidnapped’.

Also on the list of Jacobite fiction authors is John Buchan, perhaps best known for the book ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’. In 1923 he published ‘Midwinter’ which is set during the ’45 and tells the tale of Alastair Maclean, confidant of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who embarks on a secret mission to raise support for the Jacobite cause in the West of England.

Historical fiction was not just tackled by men. In 1925 the first book of ‘The Jacobite Trilogy ‘ was produced by Dorothy Kathleen Broster, better known as D.K. Broster. Featuring the dashing hero Ewen Cameron the trilogy consists of ‘The Flight of the Heron’, ‘The Gleam in the North’ and ‘The Dark Mile’.  The books follow Ewen a small landowner and close relative of the chief of the Clan Cameron across the ’45 Rising and the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has been the latest big success showing the interest in historical fiction remains and the Jacobite period has plenty to offer in the way of adventure and, in Outlander’s case, romance. Following the main characters of Jamie and Claire through Jacobite history and beyond, the books have now been made into a TV series filmed in Scotland showcasing the dramatic scenery of the country and encouraging many people to see Scotland for themselves.

Recently we have also seen ‘Gathering Storm’ by Maggie Craig published in 2013. The book is set in Edinburgh in 1743 where Jacobite support is growing, causing new tensions in the city. The story could be classed as an historical romance but is full of plenty of crime, politics and intrigue to keep everyone happy. Craig is probably best known for her books ‘Bare Arsed Bandetti’ and ‘Damn Rebel Bitches’ which look at the stories of the men and women of the ’45 Rising and should definitely be checked out.

We hope you enjoyed this dabble into Jacobite fiction and, of course, all these books are on sale in our shop at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Also, this month we have a series of talks looking into the world of the Jacobites in fiction including talks from Maggie Craig and Diana Gabaldon. For details on these check out our Events page. http://www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Visit/Events/

As always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know your favourite historical fiction books.

All the best, K & D

 

 

 

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A Little Bit About Outlander

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.

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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.

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The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

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.

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Cleft stone at Clava Cairns

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.

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Falkland Square aka 1940’s Inverness

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.

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The Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore

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.

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Preston Mill

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.

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Castle Leod near Strathpeffer

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.

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The Outlander Ring

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