A sweeping tale of time travel and enduring love adapted from the books by Diana Gabaldon, “Outlander” has become an international sensation. Although it’s Claire and Jamie Fraser’s love affair that keeps most fans enthralled, the show is also synonymous with the landscapes, history, and culture of Scotland. The first season is set entirely in Scotland and many scenes from the second, third, and fourth seasons also take place there. Even some of the scenes ostensibly set in France and North America were filmed in Scotland, and as such, the country is home to a wealth of locations for “Outlander” fans hoping to walk in the footsteps of their favorite characters.
Note: This article contains major spoilers for those who have not yet watched all five seasons of “Outlander.”
01. Kinloch Rannoch (Craigh na Dun)
The stone circle at Craigh na Dun is the most iconic setting of the entire Outlander series, being the portal through which Claire (and later Geilis, Brianna, and Roger) travel back in time to 18th-century Scotland. The stones themselves, though reportedly inspired by the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, were fabricated out of styrofoam for the show. However, the breathtaking hilltop setting in which they stand can be found just off the road near the Highland village of Kinloch Rannoch. The astonishingly beautiful scenery around the village is also recognizable as the countryside that Frank and Claire explore on their post-war honeymoon in season one, and is defined by verdant valleys, deep lochs, and towering mountains.
02. Falkland (1940s Inverness)
The first season of “Outlander” begins with Frank and Claire’s vacation to 1940s Inverness. Scenes from the village appear again in season two (when Claire returns to her own time on the eve of the Battle of Culloden, and in the future when Claire and Brianna travel to Inverness for Reverend Wakefield’s funeral). Roger also follows Brianna to Inverness in season four. However, “Outlander’s” Inverness is not the modern-day city of the same name. Instead, the village of Falkland in Fife serves as the filming location for these scenes. Today, visitors can stay in Mrs. Baird’s Guest-house (aka The Covenanter Hotel) and stand at the Bruce Fountain just as Jamie’s ghost does while looking wistfully up at Claire’s hotel room.
03. Doune Castle (Castle Leoch)
In the series, Castle Leoch is the family seat of the Mackenzie clan, presided over by Jamie’s maternal uncle, Colum Mackenzie. It’s here that Jamie and Claire first get to know each other after Claire falls into the company of the rebel Highlanders following her journey through the stones. Castle Leoch is fictional, of course, and its stand in for the TV series is Doune Castle. Located near the village of Doune in Stirling, this 13th-century stronghold remains largely intact despite suffering damage during the Scottish Wars of Independence and is now open to visitors under the care of Historic Environment Scotland. You may also recognize it from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and as Winterfell Castle as featured in the pilot episode of “Game of Thrones.”
04. Midhope Castle (Lallybroch)
Jamie’s ancestral home, known as Lallybroch or Broch Tuarach, appears many times in “Outlander.” We see it first in season one when Jamie takes Claire there for the first time; again in season three when Jamie is living there as an outlaw after the Battle of Culloden and later when he and Claire are reunited; and in season four, when Brianna arrives at the castle after traveling through the stones from 20th-century America. The exterior scenes at Lalllybroch were filmed at Midhope Castle, a 16th-century tower house located on the grounds of Hopetoun Estate near Linlithgow in West Lothian. The house itself is now semi-derelict and unsafe to enter, but visitors to the estate can view it from the outside (as long as there is no farming activity scheduled in the area).
05. Hopetoun House (Duke of Sandringham’s Estate)
Hopetoun Estate is also home to Hopetoun House, which features regularly in “Outlander” in many different capacities in seasons one, two, three, and four. Considered one of Scotland’s finest stately homes, this 18th-century masterpiece provides the filming location for scenes set at the Duke of Sandringham’s estate, at Helwater (where Jamie is sent to serve out his parole after Culloden by Lord John Grey), and at Ellesmere Estate (where Jamie’s illegitimate son by Geneva Dunsany is born). The courtyard behind the stables will also be familiar to fans, having served as the backdrop for several Parisian street scenes in season two. Hopetoun Estate is open to visitors all year round, with pre-booked guided tours offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
06. Glencorse Old Kirk
In season one, Jamie and Claire’s beginning as one of the best-loved fictional couples of all time is cemented with a marriage arranged to protect her from Black Jack Randall. The church in which this union takes place is Glencorse Old Kirk, located on the grounds of privately owned Glencorse House on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Because the house is privately owned, one cannot simply turn up to tour the church; however, private viewings can be arranged via the Glencorse website. “Outlander” fans with a wedding to plan will also be thrilled to hear that the church is available to hire for truly romantic Scottish ceremonies, complemented by magical photo opportunities in the spectacular parkland grounds.
07. Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison)
Some of “Outlander’s” most dramatic and controversial scenes take place at Wentworth Prison, located at a fictional castle in the Scottish Borders. Here, Jamie is sentenced to execution and tortured by Black Jack Randall at the end of season one before eventually being rescued by Murtagh and his men. The filming location for the prison is Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian. This historic landmark served as a royal residence for the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries, and was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Bonnie Prince Charlie visited the palace, and in 1746 it was destroyed by a fire set by the Duke of Cumberland’s armies following the prince’s defeat at Culloden. Now, it’s a major visitor attraction cared for by Historic Environment Scotland.
08. Dean Castle (Beaufort Estate)
In season two of “Outlander,” Jamie and Claire decide that if they can’t derail the Jacobite uprising then they must try to ensure that it is a success. They return to Scotland from exile in France and head to Beaufort Estate, the home of Jamie’s grandfather, Lord Lovat, to seek military assistance. Lovat’s imposing home is none other than Dean Castle, a 14th-century landmark that served as the stronghold of the lords of Kilmarnock for over 400 years. One of these lords joined Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebellion in real life. Currently, the castle is closed due to renovations that are expected to be completed by summer 2021; but visitors can still admire its exterior while exploring the surrounding Country Park with its woodland trails, urban farm, and kids’ adventure playground.
09. Blackness Castle (Fort William)
As the headquarters of Black Jack Randall, Fort William features frequently in “Outlander.” It’s where Jamie receives the brutal flogging that marks the beginning of his hatred for Randall, and it’s where Claire is imprisoned after being captured by redcoats while attempting to flee to Craigh na Dun in season one. In season two, we visit Fort William with Brianna and Roger, some 200 years in the future. The filming location for all of the Fort William scenes is Blackness Castle, a ship-like fortress constructed on the shores of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh by the Crichton family in the 15th century. Often referred to as “The Ship That Never Sailed,” the castle is now managed by Historic Environment Scotland and welcomes visitors all year round.
10. Culloden Battlefield
The Battle of Culloden is the climax of “Outlander’s” second season, with flashbacks featured in the first episode of season three as well. The actual battle scenes were not filmed at Culloden due to its status as a war grave preserved by the National Trust for Scotland; instead, the conflict was reenacted in a field near Cumbernauld in North Lanarkshire. However, the battleground is a worthwhile point of interest for any “Outlander” fan, with a visitor center that explains its importance as the final conflict of the Jacobite uprising (and the last large scale battle ever fought on British soil).
You’ll be able to see the battle lines marked out by red and blue flags representing the redcoats and the Jacobites, and the memorial stones that mark the mass graves of the different clans. The real Fraser memorial features in the final episode of season two, when 20th-century Claire returns to Scotland and comes to pay her respects to Jamie, whom she mistakenly believes to have died in the battle. You can do the same for all the real-life Frasers, Mackenzies, Macdonalds, and other clansmen who died in their attempt to preserve the Highland way of life for generations to come.