The “Outlander” Guide to Scotland
The hit TV show features an array of stunning locations across the country.
Since it first hit television screens in 2014, Outlander has become one of TV’s biggest dramas. Based on the book series by Diana Gabaldon and set in 18th-century Scotland, the series has been consistently inspired by and filmed in locations across the country, from the suburbs of Edinburgh to the remote Western Isles. From prehistoric stone circles to medieval castles to majestic palaces, here is a selection of top Outlander locations for anyone looking to recreate the show’s magic (the ability to time travel not guaranteed).
Let’s start at the very beginning. Even if you’ve never made it beyond the opening credits of Outlander , you will still have seen glimpses of Glencoe, as its lush green valleys, snowcapped peaks, and glistening lakes feature in the title sequence. And no wonder, when it is one of Scotland’s most attractive locations.
A stand-in for the fictional Castle Leoch in the show (the home of dashing warrior Jamie Fraser’s uncle, Colum Mackenzie, and his clan), Doune Castle is a medieval stronghold that dates back to the 14th century. In addition to Outlander , the castle has featured in Game of Thrones , Ivanhoe , and Monty Python and the Holy Grail . One of the Pythons, Terry Jones, now narrates the audio tour guiding visitors around the site.
As the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and the seat of Stewart kings, Linlithgow Palace is steeped in real medieval history. But in the fictional world of Outlander , the palace stood in as Wentworth Prison, where Jamie is tried and is sentenced to hang—though not before being tortured by Black Jack Randall.
On the topic of dastardly Black Jack Randall, the real-life Blackness Castle ably plays his Fort William base in the show. This mighty fortification, located about eight miles west of South Queensferry on the shores of the Firth of Forth, was originally built in the 1440s for the influential local Crichton family.
A popular tourist attraction not far outside Inverness, Culloden Battlefield was the site of the last battle of the Jacobite Uprising. Unusual for this list, this is a real-life attraction that plays itself in the series; it appears in the scene where Jamie and Claire say goodbye before he leaves to fight in the historic battle.
Within easy reach of Edinburgh, Hopetoun House is a popular day-trip destination from the capital. As perhaps Scotland’s finest stately home, the turn-of-the-18th-century building houses stunning furnished interiors, an extensive collection of art, and a sprawling English garden–style landscape park. Outlander fans may recognize it as several locations from the show, as at different times it has stood in for the home of the Duke of Sandringham, the Hawkins Estate, Helwater stables, and even as Jamie and Claire’s Paris apartment.
Known to Outlander fans as the remote Ardsmuir Prison, the place of Jamie’s incarceration in season three, Craigmillar Castle is in fact situated just a few miles from the center of Edinburgh. Visitors to the handsome ruined castle, which was intimately involved in the famous plot to murder Mary, Queen of Scots’ wearisome husband Henry Stuart, should climb the tower for a superb view of the Scottish capital.
Calanais Standing Stones and Clava Cairns
As is fitting for one of the Western Isles’ most mysterious attractions, the prehistoric Calanais Standing Stones were the main inspiration for Craigh na Du, the fictional stones that send Claire back in time in Outlander . There’s also a touch of the Clava Cairns (a Bronze Age burial site close to Inverness) about Craigh na Du.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Now the official Scottish residence of the Queen, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is where Bonnie Prince Charlie established his court for six weeks before the Jacobite Uprising. In a true-to-life representation, this is where Claire and Jamie visit the prince to beg him to abandon his hopeless cause.
As a living museum of 17th-century Scottish life, the seaside town of Culross was always going to be a popular location choice when shooting a historical Scottish drama. Fittingly, Outlander has used the site in several different guises throughout the series. It has played the Black Kirk, the fictional village of Cranesmuir (where Geillis lived), the location of Balriggan Cottage (where Laoghaire and daughter Joan lived), and has been a backdrop to the Jacobite encampment and makeshift hospital scenes.
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