Three weeks before I traveled to Scotland, I knew nothing about the Starz hit TV show Outlander. Every now and then I would hear someone say, “You’re traveling to Scotland…have you watched Outlander?” like it was essential for me to watch this mysterious TV show before stepping on Scottish soil. A few weeks prior to my wedding, I decided to focus on actual wedding planning and not aimlessly browsing potentially addictive TV shows. I completely pushed show recommendations out of my brain, and oftentimes found myself forgetting most of them…until, I came across a free preview of Season 1, Episode 1 of Outlander, titled, ‘Sassenach.’ I remember by this time I was 100% done mindlessly scrolling through every application I could possibly scroll through on my iPhone. I am also pretty sure I had work the next morning, because I always seem to find the most enthralling programs at 11:00p.m. at night. Still I was intrigued…‘A free preview!’ I thought, and ‘What the heck is a Sassenach?’ After reading the vague and dull episode description, which most certainty does not do the TV show justice, I gave it a shot, I mean what the heck, it was FREE! Three weeks later, I finished watching Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 and I was in the middle of a, as the fans call it, droughtlander.
When Outlanderis on break in between seasons and you have nothing to watch…
A few days later, I traveled to Scotland having this newfound knowledge of Scottish history, through Outlander of course. I knew things about Scotland that I had never heard of or knew about before. Growing up in America, we aren’t taught too much Scottish history, if any. Tales, displays and objects that I saw in museums meant so much more having some historical context behind them, even if it was through a TV program. In an effort to ease the drought, I decided to take an Outlander tour through Timberbush Tours, which the hotel concierge was very excited about. ‘You watch Outlander all the way from America!’ he exclaimed as his face lit up. He proceeded to show me some closes (otherwise known as alleyways) on the Royal Mile where Outlander was filmed and then some other locations where he said the cast and crew probably would have filmed, but couldn’t, because of private residence. I had a new vacation goal: find all of the places Outlander was filmed and then some. This scavenger hunt had me feeling like Claire and Jaime on one of their many adventures.
I started with the Royal Mile, since it was closest to where I was staying. The location scouts, production designers and CGI crew did a great job transforming known locations into fictitious sets and backdrops. You would really be amazed! In many locations, I had to rack my brain and think about why the surrounding area looked so familiar. Of course I would end up searching the Internet and having one of those, ‘ah-ha, that’s why this place looks so familiar,’ moments. Some filming locations are easy to spot, others are tucked away in closes and small villages, and not all of them are marked with a sign.
Filming locations on the Royal Mile:
Bakehouse Close, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Filmed in Bakehouse Close, Season 3, Episode 6, ‘A.Malcolm’
Bakehouse Close a.k.a. A. Malcolm Print Shop a.k.a. Jaime’s print shop in Edinburgh where he starts a new life after leaving Helwater and his young son Willie in the care of Lord John and Isobel.
Fun Fact: Right down the street from Bakehouse Close is Cadenhead’s Whisky, Scotland’s oldest independent bottler, that sells cask strength Scotch whisky’s by the bottle.
If you look closely at the photos above of Bakehouse Close, you can see the same stone cut out starting at the bottom of the steps to about the fifth step in both photos; it almost looks like there used to be an old doorway where the stairs start.
White Horse Close a.k.a. the close where they probably would have filmed if it weren’t private residence. White Horse Close is located further down the Royal Mile near Holyrood Palace. This location is mentioned in the book series, known as Whitehorse Tavern in the book: Voyager. The book is most likely referring to White Horse Inn, 1603.
Filming Locations around Edinburgh:
Midhope Castle a.k.a. Lallybrook a.k.a. Broch Tuarach a.k.a. Jaime Fraser’s family home. The silver ring that Jaime has made and gives to Claire on their wedding day, is the key to Lallybrook. Around Midhope, you can also find the place where Fergus is pinned to a log and has hand chopped off. Further away is Dun Bonnet Cave, where Jaime hides from the English in season 3.
Fact: Only the outside of the castle is open to the public to view, the site is frequently subject to closure, so check before you visit.
You can see how the triangular rooftop and architectural siding details matches perfectly in both photos of Midhope Castle.
Linlithgow Palace a.k.a. Wentworth Prison a.k.a. where Jaime suffers mental and physical trauma through the hands of Captain Black Jack Randall.
Fun Fact: Mary Queen of Scots and her father, King James V were born in Linlithgow Palace. In fact, the room that Mary Queen of Scots was supposedly born in has collapsed and you can only view where the room used to be if you look up. Most of this palace is in ruins. It is one of the few palaces that remains beautifully unrestored. Linlithgow Palace is easy to navigate since plenty of light reaches inside the palace, however the stairwells and floor can be a bit uneven at times, so watch your step!
If you look very closely at the photos of Linlithgow Palace above, you will see the similarities in the red brick walls of the palace.
Culross a.k.a. Cranesmuir a.k.a. Geillis Duncan’s house. Scenes where Claire is seen in the herbal garden at Castle Leoch, are filmed in the gardens of Culross. This is also where Jaime helped a young, accused thief when his ear was pinned to a wooden post.
Fun Fact: Culross is a beautifully quaint village, with homes dating back to the 16th century.
Outlander Fan Fact: If you walk past Bessie’s Café and through the alley right next door, up the stairs, past the gardens (with great views of the town and ocean) and keep going on an old path through rural farmlands you will reach a very old and abandoned graveyard called West Kirk Graveyard, built in the 1500’s. Here, Jaime first falls in for Claire when she is investigating the source of Tammas Baxter’s illness. Jaime explains to her that as a young boy, he was dared to visit the kirk and he would eat berries and wood garlic that grew there. Claire then realizes that the wood garlic that grows in the kirk is actually lily of the valley, a highly poisonous plant.
Hopetoun House a.k.a. the Duke of Sandringham’s residence, back of Hopetoun House and Ellesmere, front of Hopetoun House. So many scenes were filmed inside this house and outside on the beautifully vast front and back yard. Scenes inside the house of the Duke of Sandringham, scenes when Jaime and Claire lived in Paris and scenes from Helwater.
Fun Fact: The 4th Marquess of Linlithgow owns the Hopetoun House. The Marquess and his father established the Hopetoun House Preservation Trust, which is one of the first independent charitable trusts of its kind. If you have time, go all the way to the top floor for a magnificent rooftop viewing platform. Great views of the Queensferry Crossing Bridge and Forth Bridge can be seen from the roof.
In both photos of the Hopetoun House, you can see the rooftop terrace railings and chimneys.
Blackness Castle a.k.a. Fort William where Jaime receives lashes from Captain Black Jack Randall. Jaime’s father also dies in the castle courtyard while watching his son’s gruesome punishment. Later, Jaime breaks into the castle to rescue Claire from Captain Black Jack’s twisted demeanor.
Fun Fact: Blackness Castle is located right on the harbor and has magnificent views from the castle walls and towers. Blackness Castle, like many others, has its fair share of high-production filming, including the 2019 Mary Queen of Scots, 1997 Ivanhoe (BBC), 1996 The Bruce and 1990 Hamlet.
The first photo of Blackness is taken in the rocky courtyard where Jaime given lashes. Match up the side railings (far, upper, left) in both photos. The nearby castle tower and far archway door also appear in both photos.
Callendar House a.k.a. the Georgian kitchen is transformed into the Duke of Sandringham’s kitchen, seen in the episode ‘Vengeance is Mine’.
Fun Fact: Callendar House is surrounded by a gorgeous park, called Callendar Park, a great place to take a stroll or walk your dog. The house also features a museum, tea room, and a restored and fully functioning Georgian Kitchen, that was freshly painted for the filming of Outlander.
Doune Castle a.k.a. Castle Leoch,of Clam Mackenzie. We see a lot of Castle Leoch in season one. In the beginning Claire and Frank visit the ruins of the castle. Later in the season, Doune’s kitchen was used in the scenes between Claire and Mrs. Fitz.
Fun Fact: Doune Castle is quite a popular filming location, it was featured in Game of Thrones (Winterfell) and Monty-Python and the Holy Grail. You can even get audio tours of the castle that are narrated by Sam Heugan, who plays Jaime Fraser in Outlander, and Terry Jones, star and co-director of Monty-Python and the Holy Grail. The inside ruins of Doune Castle are open to the public, but the castle is very dark inside and the floors and spiral stairs are quite uneven, making it easy hard to navigate and easy to lose your balance.
Specifically look at the outline around the windows of in each photo of Doune Castle, see any similarities in the jagged white stone outline?
Glencoe, located in the Scottish Highlands can be seen in the opening credits to every Outlanderepisode. As beautiful as Glencoe may be, many don’t know that the land has a violent history. Many members of the Clan McDonald were massacred by the forces of King William III or forced to abandon their homes and froze to death; this is called the Massacre of Glencoe, 1962.
Fact: There is a welcome center if you keep continuing down the road, where you can stop for souvenirs, and have a bit to eat, there is also public bathrooms as well.
You can tell from the photos above that I visited Glencoe on a very cloudy day.
To get a clear visual of the Outlander filming locations that I covered above, here are their locations on a map of Scotland, marked by