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Lotte Verbeek and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ | © Amazon/Starz

Scotland / FILM & TV

The Beautiful Scottish Locations Showcased In Amazon’s ‘Outlander’

Cassam Looch
Film Editor
Updated:
We recently visited the set of hit Amazon Video show Outlander and spoke to the stars about the upcoming third season. You’ll be able to see our exclusive videos with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan before the series returns next year, but in the meantime, join us as we take a tour around some of the iconic locations in Scotland that feature in the show’s first and second seasons.


The village of Culross in Fife | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross in Fife | © Culture Trip

As we follow the time-hopping antics of Claire Randall (Balfe) over the course of the Outlander saga, the one constant across the ages has been Scotland. Even when the show took a detour at the start of the second series to the opulent palaces of 18th-century France, we knew the characters still longed for their beloved Highland home.

Doune Castle

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A medieval stronghold near the village of Doune, in the district of Stirling, the castle was built in the thirteenth century and has been damaged and rebuilt a number of times since. Previously famous as one of the locations used in Monty Python and the Holy Grailthe castle is now best known as Castle Leoch, the home of the powerful MacKenzie clan.

In season one of Outlander we saw two versions of Castle Leoch. Claire and her 20th-century husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) visit the location before we see it in its full 18th-century glory.

1940's Castle Leoch | © Amazon/STARZ

1940’s Castle Leoch | © Amazon/STARZ

The extensive filming for season one took place over three months. To convert the exterior and courtyard, 65 tonnes of soil were used to cover the ground. To avoid causing any permanent damage to the grass, a removable membrane had to be laid out first and any structures such as wooden huts or fences had to be raised from floor level. Interiors such as the kitchens were built on studio sets, but took heavy inspiration from the rooms inside the building itself.

The Courtyard of Doune Castle | © Culture Trip

The Courtyard of Doune Castle | © Culture Trip

Unsurprisingly, visitor numbers have increased by 40% since Outlander was shot at Doune Castle.

Culross

The village of Culross | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross | © Culture Trip

The village of Culross in Fife is a rare example of what a Scottish town would have looked like in the 17th and 18th centuries. The central Mercat Cross area was transformed into Cranesmuir in the show, and was the site of some of the most dramatic moments in the series.

Giellis Duncan's house in Outlander | © Culture Trip

Geillis Duncan’s house in ‘Outlander’ | © Culture Trip

Geillis Duncan (played by Lotte Verbeek) lives in a house in the square. For the show, the exteriors were painted in a different colour, and were also used as the setting for the aftermath of the witch trials which saw Geillis make the ultimate sacrifice for Claire.

Fans will recognise this spot as where Jamie and Claire help the young boy being punished for a minor crime © Culture Trip

Fans will recognise this spot as where Jamie and Claire help the young boy being punished for a minor crime | © Culture Trip

The impressive Culross Palace has an equally impressive natural area behind it, and served as the herb garden that Claire and Geillis used to pick ingredients for their potions and medicines. It obviously looks a lot different in the summer months, when the plants are in full bloom.

The herb garden behind Culross Palace (on the left) | © Culture Trip

The herb garden behind Culross Palace (on the left) | © Culture Trip

Midhope

Lallybroch | © Culture Trip

Lallybroch | © Amazon/STARZ

This 16th-century tower house is one of the most recognisable locations in the show. The home of Jamie Fraser (Heughan) and the Fraser Clan, Lallybroch is referenced in the show long before it is seen. The near-mythical ancestral home of Jamie, it becomes the place that feels safest to Claire and where she first meets fiery Jenny Murray (Laura Donnelly).

Midhope Castle | © Culture Trip

Midhope Castle | © Culture Trip

Still used as a working farm, production has to be scheduled around the day-to-day running of the area. The telegraph pole you can just about see in the image above has to be removed when shooting and replaced afterwards.

Blackness Castle

The Ship That Never Sailed | © Culture Trip

The Ship That Never Sailed | © Culture Trip

Romantically known as “the ship that never sailed” on account of the way the structure juts out into the Firth of Forth, Blackness Castle also has a far less savoury past.

Once used as a prison and military garrison, in Outlander it was turned into Fort William, which is where Captain Jonathan Randall (Menzies) flogged Jamie in front of a horrified crowd.

Jamie Fraser and Jack Randall in Outlander | © Amazon/STARZ

Jamie Fraser and Captain Jonathan Randall in ‘Outlander’ | © Amazon/STARZ

Drummond Castle Gardens

When the second series of Outlander began in France, the look of the show changed dramatically, but the locations used hadn’t moved that much at all.

Drummond Castle Gardens | © Wikicommons

Drummond Castle Gardens | © Wikicommons

The stunning gardens we saw were actually located in-between Perth and Loch Lomond in the grounds of Drummond Castle. Proof that the transformation was perfectly executed was evidenced when many fans went looking for the location in France!

'Outlander' season 2 | © STARZ/Amazon

‘Outlander’ season 2 | © STARZ/Amazon

[amazon text=Order Season 2 on BluRay&asin=http://astore.amazon.com/outlande0c-20/detail/B01I5SLOJ4]

(source)

 

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FRASER’S RIDGE

Outlander America will begin a series on the locations in the Outlander book series.   In Voyager, Jamie and Claire Fraser (and others) leave Scotland to begin a new life in what was known at the time as British America in 1767. Our first edition will address the fictional Fraser’s Ridge.

“Fraser’s Ridge” near Boone, NC

Boone

It is well known that Diana Gabaldon, author of the series, is an accomplished researcher. So let’s take a look at the location of Fraser’s Ridge and why she probably chose its fictional location.

According to Diana, Fraser’s Ridge is located on a plot of land covering roughly 10,000 square acres. It is nestled in an area north of the Yadkin River between the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, near Grandfather Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Throughout the story, the Frasers frequented nearby areas as well, including Cross Creek and Campbellton. Those nonfictional towns later merged into the modern city of Fayetteville, NC.

So why choose this area as the setting of the majority of her story? Surprisingly, North Carolina boasts the largest population of citizens with Scottish ancestry than any other state or country in the world, including Scotland. More than 1.5 million Scots have immigrated to America, with the overwhelming majority settling in North Carolina, from the coastal region of Wilmington northward via Cape Fear, and from there to the piedmont and highland regions. Records indicate that the immigration began in 1729 after King George II took over Carolina and split it into North Carolina and South Carolina. The Scots were attracted to the mild climate, fertile soil, and hopes for a better life. The migration continued until the start of the American Revolution, resuming again after the war.

Migration path of Scots into North CarolinaEarly Colonial NC Migration Paths, s-NC History Textbook, s-jbk wb

Outlander Locations in North Carolina

OL locations in North America

Modern Map of Area Known as “Fraser’s Ridge”

OL locations in NC

The piedmont and highland regions of Western North Carolina continue to be heavily influenced by Scottish culture. In fact, many of the Scots in that region continued to speak Gaelic well into the 19th century.

Tips for Visiting “Fraser’s Ridge”

If you long to visit the area to catch a glimpse of Jamie and Claire’s life on Fraser’s Ridge, a trip to Boone, North Carolina can satisfy your desires. In fact, there is a place that caters to Outlander dreamers. The Mast Farm Inn, located in Banner Elk near Boone, promises to give visitors the experience of Fraser’s Ridge. Visitor reviews have been excellent.

 

Summer in Boone, NC

Boone summer

If you visit the area in the winter months, navigating the snow and ice may necessitate tire chains or a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach the ski resorts of Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain. If you plan a summer trip, you may want to consider going in July to participate in the annual Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain. The Highland Games are usually held in the first or second week in July, from Thursday to Sunday. Plan to arrive on Thursday night in order to participate in the kick off of the Games with the official “Calling of the Clans.”

Summer on Grandfather Mountain

Boone Grandfather Mt.Annual Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain – “Calling of the Clans” Candlelight ceremony calling of the clans

A trip to Fraser’s Ridge in Boone and Grandfather Mountain is sure to please the entire family.  A wealth of activities are offered year ’round with dining and lodging accommodations to fit all budgets. Asheville and Cherokee (the reservation of the Eastern Band Cherokee Nation) are less than a two-hour drive away.   However, it would be a shame to miss the Highland Games, especially if you are a Scot or a Scot at heart.  Diana Gabaldon, Herself, has attended the games on several occasions over the years, and, if you are a book fan you know that so have the Frasers!

Sources

 http://www.dalhousielodge.org/Thesis/scotstonc.htm

http://outlander.wikia.com/wiki/Fraser’s_Ridge

Gabaldon, Diana.  The Outlandish Companion.  Delacorte Press, New York. 1999.

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