On hot summer day I went for a return visit to Castle Leoch aka Castle Doune. I had heard that there is now an Outlander part to the audio tour voiced by Sam Heughan. The main audio is done by Terry Jones of Monty Python as the castle was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The first place there is an Outlander audio is the courtyard. Sam explains how this part of the castle was used in filming.
The next Outlander audio treat is the castle kitchen. The show was not filmed in the castle but the layout of the kitchen influenced the set design.
The last place there is an Outlander audio treat is on the second floor of the gate house tower. It describes where the shinty match took place and other views.
Before I left Doune Castle I went for a walk round the outside.
After a visit to Bo’ness I drove to Blackness Castle which was used as Fort William in season 1. The place of Jamie’s flogging and Claire’s imprisonment. It was used in season 2 as well – Roger and Brianna visit it on their travels.
This trip was to try out my new camera. I didn’t manage to visit all of the castle as it was raining and I was slipping on the wet rocks. Please note if your visiting Blackness Castle in the rain wear footwear with a grip not trainers.
The second trip of the day was to Blackness Castle. It is called the ship that never sailed as it is built in the shape of a ship. The castle is situated on the shore of the river Forth.
It was even more windy here but we still manage to venture for a walk around the walls.
When visiting locations I like to think how they were used for filming. The courtyard in the castle is very rocky so it would have made for interesting transformation into the crowd scenes of the flogging.
Only Jamie and Claire made an appearance here. Again like Doune castle there were several visitors at Blackness Castle on a very windy day.
As I am still on holiday I decided it would be nice to revisit some of the Outlander locations. So on a wild windy January day I set forth with my husband to visit Doune Castle otherwise known as Castle Leoch in the series.
I took with me my POP figures of Jamie, Claire and Dougal.
This was my third visit to Doune Castle and my second Outlander inspired trip. We are Historic Scotland members. There is guide book, which I must have somewhere, and a free audio guide – worth using especially if it’s your first visit.
It was fun just to wander round and discover parts of the castle I had missed in pervious visits. On my previous visit I had ventured for a walk by the river but with all the rain there has been recently and the windy weather we opted to go back to the car.
My husband was surprised by the number of visitors there were. While we were there several small bus tours arrived. Don’t know if they were all Outlander fans! Doune Castle has been used for filming Game of Thrones and was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Not sure if the gift shop still sells coconut shells – they may have been replaced by the Outlander merchandise).
The next stop was to Clava Cairns.
Clava Cairns come in two types, and both are represented in the group of three you find in the truly wonderful wooded setting at Balnuaran. There are larger prehistoric sites in Scotland, and there are much better known ones: but we have yet to come across one with such variety and interest in such a beautiful setting.
The North East and South West Cairns are knows as passage graves. Here the inner chamber remains linked to the outside world by a passage. Both are no more than a metre or so in height, but when originally constructed the cairns are likely to have been around 3m or 10ft in height.
The North East Passage Grave (the one nearest the car park) is interesting in having a large number of “cup” marks and some “ring” marks inscribed on one of the kerb stones. Both of the passage graves have a surrounding circle of widely spaced standing stones: though sadly the stone circle surrounding the South West Passage Grave has a road going through it, leaving one stone marooned on the far side of the road and another forming part of the fence.
The central cairn at Balnuaran is of the second type of Clava Cairn, a ring cairn. This differs from the other two in having no passageway linking the central camber with the outside. Like the others it is surrounded by a ring of standing stones, nine in this case, of which some have been broken. One unusual feature is the way that the central cairn is linked to three of its enclosing circle of standing stones by lines of turf covered stones. No-one knows their purpose, and it might well be possible that they were added very much later than the date of construction of the cairns. Another later addition is likely to have been the much smaller ring of kerb stones on the north east side of the site not far from the central cairn.
Source – Undiscovered Scotland
Of course Jamie and Claire made an appearance.
We then went back later in the day to see the cairns at sunset.
I realise this hasn’t featured in the series yet but it does get a mention in Dragonfly in Amber. The castle has parts that date back to the 18th century and before with buildings added in the 1800s. Although it does have royal apartments it has mainly been a barracks and in the late 1700s and 1800s a prison. Although the Jacobites took Edinburgh easily they never managed to take control of Edinburgh Castle. Prince Charlie set up court at the other end of the Royal Mile at Holyrood Palace.
This was my third visit to the castle this year. As a primary teacher I have taken classes to the castle when we have been studying castles. This visit I was looking for the Jacobite connection. It wasn’t easy as the castle was very busy with queues for the Jewels of Scotland exhibition. I think I’ll leave my next visit to the quiet season.
Before entering or when you exit the castle look out for the witches well.
The Plaque Reads…
“This Fountain, designed by John Duncan, R.S.A.
Is near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and serene head signify that some used their exceptional knowledge for evil purposes while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good. The serpent has the dual significance of evil and wisdom. The Foxglove spray further emphasises the dual purpose of many common objects.”
From – www.royal-mile.com
Ok this might not have anything to do with the tv series or the books but it has connections to the time period the books are set in.
Seton Collegiate Church is on the road from Prestonpans to Longniddry. It is not far from where the Scots were at the Battle of Prestonpans.
Collegiate churches are so called because they housed a college, or community, of priests. These were brought together by the local landowner to pray for his and his family’s salvation. During the course of the 15th century, the Setons began the process of raising their parish church to collegiate status. After the death of Lord John Seton in 1434, his widow, Lady Catherine, added a small side-chapel to the south side of the church, to house her late husband’s tomb and a private altar. (The chapel no longer exists.) (Source – Historic Scotland)
It was damaged by zealots during the Wars of the Covenant in the mid 1600s, and the Setons’ support for the Jacobite cause led to it being desecrated again in 1715, this time by the Lothian Militia. At some point during this period the original nave, the only part of the church without a vaulted stone roof, fell into disuse and was demolished. The church later passed to the Earls of Wemyss who restored the surviving parts to become a family burial vault, and they in turn passed it into state care in 1946. (Source – www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk )
The church is set in charming well kept grounds. As we wandered round I spotted several slate signs which sounds like advice Claire might have used.
Today’s day trip was to Castle Leoch aka Doune Castle. I had been here before a few years ago due to the castle’s connection with Monty Python – Monthy Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here in the late 1970s.
Unlike other Historic Scotland properties there are not many information boards so it is worth using the audio tour narrated by Terry Jones.
Doune Castle features in several episodes of Outlander. It was interesting to walk around the castle imagining where scenes were filmed.
I then went for a walk down by the river – no sign of Jamie.
Another day another location this time Linlithgow Palace. This was used as part of Wentworth Prison in Wentworth and To Ransom a Man’s Soul. The entrance and some corridors were used.
It had been a while since I had been to Linlithgow Palace. The last time was with my children when one of them was studying Mary Queen of Scots at primary school. I had forgotten how beautiful the place is and large. It was fun wandering around trying to work out what and where had been used in the series.
Linlithgow Palace was a royal palace. The last royalty to stay there was Bonnie Prince Charlie on his way to Edinburgh. The palace was destroyed by fire in 1746 after a visit from the Duke of Cumberland!
This Friday’s visit with husband was Aberdour Castle. The castle was used in the last episode of series 1 – To Ransom a Man’s Soul.
We enjoyed walking round the castle discovering different parts. In a ruined part of the castle we found the kitchen with a big open fireplace which included a bread oven. The gardens are beautiful though I was surprised to find out they were only rediscovered in the 1970s.
The 12th century fortified residence of Aberdour was extended by the Douglases in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
It boasts a delightful walled garden and terraces with beehive-shaped dovecot.