Outlander Filming Locations in Scotland

by JoHarrington

Want to know where Starz's Outlander was filmed in Scotland? Looking to walk in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire? Well you've come to the right place!

For thirty-eight weeks, during the dismal autumn and winter of 2013, two hundred cast and crew descended upon Scotland.

They were there to dramatize Diana Gabaldon's 'Outlander', an epic series of novels about a time-traveler finding herself in 18th century Scotland.

Claire Randall might be desperate to return home to the 20th century, but she gets to know and love these people, especially Jamie Fraser. She also knows something that they don't. Looming on the horizon is the '45 and the horrors of Culloden.

Here's where those memorable scenes were brought to life.

Falkland in Fife Doubles as Inverness in Outlander

Presumably there were good reasons why they didn't just go to Inverness...

Image: Falkland in FifeOn October 16th 2013, Twitter erupted with Outlander hashtags.

It seemed that the entire population of Falkland, in Fife, had their camera phones out to capture the excitement in the heart of their town.

Let's face it, we all wished we were there too. I know I looked it up on a map and calculated the distance!

This picturesque location features in the very earliest scenes from Starz's Outlander. This was where Frank and Claire Randall lodged in Mrs Baird's Guesthouse, using it as a base to explore the rest of the Scottish Highlands. (Yes, we know that Fife is in the Lowlands, but Falkland was here pretending to be Inverness.)

The entire center of the town, particularly the area surrounding the Bruce Fountain, was stripped of all traces of the 21st century. For one day, it was Inverness in 1947.

Falkland Parish Church was renamed Dalneigh Parish Church (the real one is still in Inverness).

Across the road, The Covenanter Hotel became practically unrecognizable. The pillars outside its door, plus all of the window and door-frames, were repainted. This included the dining area alongside it, which was cunningly re-imagined as garages, with the help of fake frontages.

The hotel's own signage was removed and its menu boards taken in. In their place was inserted a hanging sign reading Mrs Baird's Guesthouse, est. 1865.

Further along the road, Greenhouse Chinese Restaurant became Farrell's Hardware and Furniture Store. Internal boards concealed the real interior, while its windows were stocked with authentic period merchandise.

Lomond Pharmacy was transformed into Campbell's Cafe. Bizarrely, this appears to have become a permanent fixture. A real life Campbells Coffee House and Eatery opened in the same building, as soon as the Outlander film crew left! Now that's what I call opportunism.

Meanwhile, next door, Violin Shop Falkland was changed into H Allingham's Music Shop. The owner must have been gutted. His name is Bob Beveridge. That could have been the advertising of the century!

As the day drew on, further touches were needed in order to shoot more scenes. There was blood added to the door-jamb over the guesthouse.

By night, the weather had to take a turn for the worse. Unusually for Britain in October, it wasn't actually raining, but since when did that stop a film company?  Huge cranes held the sprinklers and lighting rigs necessary to recreate a storm.

Poor Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) got very wet; and it was a wrap.

Falkland Film Location for Outlander

Outlander Film Set: Former Isola-Werke factory in Cumbernauld

This was the location of the sound studios, where the majority of the interiors in Outlander were filmed.

In theory, Falkland is now revealed as just a short bicycle ride (or car drive, if we're going by the novels) from the infamous stone circle of Craigh na Dun.

But don't rush there just yet.

Fans of Diana Gabaldon's writing have long since been disappointed to learn that particular monument is fictional.

Though I am highly amused that The Megalith Portal have felt the need to list it, presumably because they kept getting queries as to Craigh na Dun's location!

The reality of Craigh na Dun's filming location couldn't be less glamorous if it tried.

For many years, the Isola Werke UK factory was a sizable employer in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire. Based in the Ward Park area of the commuter town, a workforce of about 550 people manufactured circuit boards.

Then the recession hit and the factory was closed down. For eight years, the industrial complex sat there, slowly becoming derelict.

Entrepreneur Terry Thomson bought the site in 2013. He is the chairman of an engineering company, Thomson Pettie Group, but his vision was firmly attuned to the bright lights of the entertainment business.

He transformed 130,000 square feet of buildings and warehouses into a professional film studio. Then went after his first big contract - the US Starz adaption of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Against the odds, he secured it too!

The Scottish government, and its arts subsidiary Creative Scotland, immediately took notice. Perhaps not quite believing their luck, permission was granted for Ronald D Moore's crew to film wherever appropriate within Scotland's historic heritage buildings.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond allocated a budget of £640,000 to further facilitate the development of the former Isola-Werke factory into a credible film studio. Down in Westminster, Chancellor George Osbourne announced that there would be substantial tax breaks, as a further incentive for filming high-end, high-budget shows in Britain, instead of, say, Ireland. (Everyone was very bitter about missing out on Game of Thrones.)

It was a sound investment. It's expected that Outlander will boost the Scottish economy by £20 million!

Unfortunately for the prying public and rabid fans (myself included), the studio is off limits. High walls and tight security kept us from getting a glimpse of what's going on inside.

However, this is where all of the interiors for Outlander were filmed. Craigh na Dun exists only on a sound stage within that complex. Though whether they'd nailed the whole time passage aspect of it remains to be seen.

Isola Werke, Cumberland - Film Studio for the Outlander Show

If you haven't read these books yet, you seriously do not know what you're missing!
Enter the world of Outlander and you'll never come out again. Diana Gabaldon's amazing story is about to become a global television phenomenon too.

Doune Castle in Perthshire Becomes Outlander's Castle Leoch

The great Inverness seat of Clan MacKenzie is located just outside Stirling in reality.

Amongst the properties made available by Alex Salmond's government was the former royal residence of Doune Castle, in Perthshire.

Built in 1400, the castle was home to Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany, who acted as Regent of Scotland from 1388-1420. Part of it was damaged during the very Jacobite Uprising depicted in the show.

Making the property available was a huge commitment. Doune Castle is a major tourist attraction, yet filming Outlander there meant that it had to be closed to the public for several weeks.

Doune Castle is the substitute for the fictional Castle Leoch, home to Colum MacKenzie and the central point for the whole of Clan MacKenzie.

That blind-sided everybody, who'd naturally assumed that Castle Leod - the real life seat of Clan MacKenzie and Diana Gabaldon's inspiration for Castle Leoch - would be the filming location.

But Castle Leod is the private residence of the Earl of Cromartie, and it was completely renovated in the late 19th century. It simply doesn't look the part anymore. While Doune Castle most certainly does!

Doune is seen in both the 18th and 20th century portions of Outlander. In the latter, Frank and Claire visited the castle in ruins. Digital manipulation was used to create that illusion.

Back in 1743, the Great Hall and other interiors were reproduced back in Cumbernauld. Great care was taken to ensure that all of the measurements were exact, to produce as perfect a replica as possible. They even went as far as to make castings of the stonework, so that the sets would match back in the studio!

This might seem like a lot of work, when there's a perfectly serviceable Great Hall right there, not to mention the rest of the castle's extremely solid rooms.

But Doune Castle is a historical monument. Permission could not be granted to change any aspect of it, which was a necessity when a film crew had to fix equipment to the walls and change the furnishings to make it all seem authentically 18th century.

Plus the sound stage versions could lose a wall or two, if needful for lighting purposes.  It was safer all round just to do it there.

Location of Doune Castle, aka Castle Leoch in Outlander

Incidentally, if Doune Castle looks familiar, you may have seen it before. Scotland may have lost out to Ireland, as the filming location for Game of Thrones, but it did have one stake in the show. Doune Castle was Winterfell, the home of the Stark family!

Those of us with even longer memories will recall another of Doune's glory days. It was where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed!

Doune Castle as Winterfell in Game of Thrones

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Doune Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Glasgow's Pollok Park as the Grounds of Castle Leoch

Claire establishes herself here as the castle medic, after travelling back in time to 1743. She wanders the estate looking for medicinal herbs and other plants.

On November 14th 2013, Caitriona Balfe and a gaggle of child actors descended upon Pollok Country Park in Glasgow. Naturally they took the film crew with them.

Three miles away from the city center, this is the only country park within Glasgow. But parts of its 146 hectares were closed to the public, while Outlander filming took place there.

The park will double as the grounds of Castle Leoch, when we see it on-screen. It's here that Claire interacts with Hamish MacKenzie and friends, while keeping a sharp eye out for a glimpse of Jamie.

Outlander Film Location: Pollok Country Park in Glasgow

Cranesmuir Scenes for Outlander Filmed in Culross, West Fife

The town of Cranesmuir is the setting for some of the more dramatic scenes in 'Outlander'.

Image: Mercat in CulrossCulross is such a tiny, rural village, nestled in the heartland of West Fife.  But it was decidedly busier between November 19th-21st 2013.

That's when the Mercat area was transformed into the fictional village of Cranesmuir.

The beautiful disruption of an Outlander crew descending spread further than that. In the run up to filming, residents were warned that several streets would be closed to traffic. They were West Green, Lower East Sandhaven, Back Causeway, Mid Causeway, Wee Causeway and Tanhouse Brae.

No modern vehicles could be parked in Sandhaven or Low Causewayside, suggesting that these streets would feature prominently in the shoot.

Cranesmuir is the village closest to Castle Leoch. It's where Claire visits for medicinal supplies, treats one or two residents (more as news like her gets round) and has a fateful meeting with the fiscal's wife, Geillis Duncan.

Half-tone Print of Culross from 1952

This photograph was taken from the Palace Garden and depicts an overview of the village. Close enough to Cranesmuir for you?

Culross in Fife - Filming Location for Cranesmuir

Where is the Lallybroch Film Location in Scotland?

This is a place very dear to all Outlander fans. It's Jamie Fraser's childhood home, and technically where he still lives as Laird of Broch Turach.

Image: Lallybroch from the Outlander showI really wish that I could tell you the Outlander filming location of Lallybroch.  So far this one has me stumped!

We know what it looks like.  The concept art was revealed at the Outlander Fan Event Panel in New York, early in October 2013.

We also have some details about the property. The real life location of Lallybroch is actually a ruin. Behind that lovely exterior, the building is a shell.

The secrecy surrounding where it is may be due to the fact that it's dangerous inside. Fans rushing to have their picture taken there could get smacked by a bit of falling masonry.

Other clues to finding Lallybroch include the modern building, which sits just to the side of the property and has been air-brushed out of the images. We also know that it was chosen because the exterior is authentically 18th century.  Remember that this was a home constructed by Brian and Ellen Fraser, in order to raise Jamie and his siblings.

Because the interior is so wrecked - and it only appears once in flashback in the first season of Outlander - those scenes have been moved outside. We will see Jenny Fraser fight off Black Jack Randall in the courtyard, while Jamie's arrest takes place outside the archway on the road itself.

If anyone out there does know where this building can be found, please do leave a comment. I'd be thrilled to update this, with all due credit to yourself.

UPDATE:  Angela and James left a comment here explaining where Lallybroch is in reality. It's Midhope Castle, which is on the Hopetoun Estate, near to Edinburgh. However, it IS unsafe and it's also on private property, so no-one go rushing there uninvited!  Go and read the comments for more information.

Guide to the Locations in the Outlander Novels

This Wizzley article has been all about the places found in the television drama 'Outlander', but there is plenty more to discover in Scotland.

The real life settings in Diana Gabaldon's work may not match those used in the television adaptation. The fictional ones unfortunately remain in the ether, to be imagined afresh by all who read those epic stories.

If you would like to track down the Scottish locations in Outlander, then may I recommend the Outlandish Companion as your guide? 

I've owned this volume for years. It's fascinating and wonderful, great to just dip in and out of as a coffee table book. Or you can do as I did, when I first held it in my sweaty hands, which was to lie on a settee and devour every word until it was read.

Through the Stones is a new one on me, though a comment on the Amazon page informs us that it's merely an over-priced, European copy of the Outlandish Companion.  I'd stick with the original, if I were you.

More of my Articles about Scotland

On April 16th 1746, the last pitched battle on British land took place on Drummossie Moor. Up to 2000 Jacobites lay dead, or injured and dying, in the heather. It was never over.
There's an auld song that keeps on being played across the waters, wherever the Scots found their clans. Remember your roots with some Scottish Christmas ornaments.
The Battle of Bannockburn marked a key turning point in Scottish history. Its 700th anniversary is in 2014. Robert the Bruce forged freedom for Scotland.
From the Romans to the English, the Scots had managed to repel every threat from south of its border. Until the conquerors came, not with swords, but with a crown.
Updated: 11 hours ago, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 03/28/2014

Oh wow! Thank you so much for illuminating us, and that offer too. I'm quite far from Scotland, but I'm certainly planning a drive up there this year. I have a friend in Glasgow, who is long overdue a visit.

Angela & James on 03/28/2014

Lally Broch is indeed not safe and access is restricted as it is on a private part of Hopetoun Estate near Edinburgh. If you wish to know it's exact location and make a visit just get in touch with us.

JoHarrington on 11/09/2013

YES! On both counts yes. Read them now. Read them on the way over!

Ember on 11/09/2013

If I read these books, I should come back over and we could tour Scotland! :D

JoHarrington on 11/02/2013

Thank you very much. I'm so resisting the urge to drive to Scotland here!

teddletonmr on 11/02/2013

Cool stuff...



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