Cumbernauld stars in the Battle of Culloden
11:54Saturday 27 August 2016 0
Hundreds of film extras kitted out as Jacobites and redcoats have staged an epic rerun of the bloody 1746 Battle of Culloden in a field at Greengairs.
The gory encounter is a climactic scene in the latest series of hit fantasy-history drama Outlander, and main star Sam Heughan – broadsword in hand – was in the thick of the mock fight along with the rest of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s tartan army. Clouds of fake gunsmoke could be seen drifting across the make-believe field of slaughter – just a short distance from the heart of Cumbernauld.
The “battle”, filmed last week, was the latest success for Cumbernauld as a prospective national film studio centre, building on the reputation the town has already achieved from the filming of the first series of Outlander. Whereas before it was argued that the film base in a disused local factory was ideal as a central point for outside location shots in places including Blackness Castle and Doune the latest series has proved that countryside just minutes from the heart of the new town can be portrayed as – for example – a windswept moor in 18th century rural Inverness-shire. The real battlefield on Drumossie Moor is a war grave, and visitor attraction, and completely unsuitable for filming.
Cumbernauld’s evolving role as a successful film studio centre is taking place amid ongoing controversy about where a national film base should be sited. For several years rival plans have jockeyed for position while studio chiefs have complained about a claimed lack of action from the Scottish Government. Cumbernauld has repeatedly been touted as an ideal location for the national base, underpinned by the runaway success of Outlander at home and abroad – despite not being screened in the UK. But discussions on whether a private-public scheme based in Cumbernauld should be adopted have dragged on for more than two years.
Meanwhile other plans for studios have surfaced in Edinburgh and Dundee. Then in March both NLC and the Scottish Government confirmed that a private investor wants to expand with a new 30,000 square foot premises on-site. At 50 meters high, the building would be able to accommodate towering sets, lighting rigs and other heavy-duty apparatus. The site’s existing owners had been working on the project with the Film Studio Delivery Group from the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Meanwhile last week’s Cumbernauld version of Culloden isn’t the first time a supposedly unlikely Scottish location has been used for a “battle”. In the 1980’s movie Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life a farm in Kippen, Stirlingshire, was used for a comedy sketch based on the 1879 Battle of Rorkes Drift – with the Campsie Hills standing in for the hills of Zululand.