It’s A History Thing: Outlander Places

OUTLANDER, both the book and the series, crosses genres with impunity, travels continents and time periods impetuously, and makes us want to find Jamie and be Claire. Several companies have developed tours of Scotland based on the series, but before you book your tour, what are the real places in OUTLANDER.

In her FAQs OUTLANDER author, Diana Gabaldon asks and responds to the question:

Are all the locations used in the books real?
Well, places like Inverness, Loch Ness and Fort William are certainly real, as are Paris, Fontainebleu, Cap Haitien, Philadelphia, etc. If you mean the stone circle….I don’t know. Bear in mind that I had never been to Scotland when I wrote Outlander. When I finally did go, I found a stone circle very like the one I described, at a place called Castlerigg (which is not in the Highlands, but in the Lake District). There is also a place near Inverness called the Clava Cairns, which has a stone circle, and another place called Tomnahurich, which is supposed to be a fairy’s hill, but I’ve never been there, so I don’t know how like it is. So far as I know, there isn’t a physical basis for Lallybroch, but then again, I do repeatedly find things that really exist after I’ve written them, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

From http://www.dianagabaldon.com/resources/faq/faq-about-the-books/#choosescotland

What are some of the places used in OUTLANDER

Weel, that is an interesting question. I happen to be geographically challenged – (pokes husband –stop laughing!) and I find it hard to imagine how people are traveling across maps and in battles or other chaotic events.

So, in OUTLANDER, one of the first places one reads of or sees in the TV Program, is Inverness where Claire and Frank go after WWII for a second honeymoon.
Inverness is located in the Scottish Highlands and is the administrative capital for that area. The Highlands and Lowlands are geographically the northern and southern parts of Scotland, but were separated more by the Gaelic language used in the Highlands, and English used in the Lowlands. Also, many of the lowland Scots converted to Protestant during the reformation.

CIAScotland_map

Inverness comes from the Gaelic Inbhir Nis which means Mouth of the River Ness.
Inverness was a Pict stronghold, I am betting because it is really well located on the River Ness. It was visited by St. Columba who, like a good saint wanted to convert the king there and served as the site of a battle against an invasion by the King of Norway (early 11th century).

In relation to OUTLANDER Inverness is important because it was there at the beginning and it is a site important to the 17th and 18th century Jacobite uprisings. Culloden Moor and Battlefield is less than 3.25 miles outside the city.

Inverness from A TOUR IN SCOTLAND 1771
Inverness from A TOUR IN SCOTLAND, 1771

Craigh na Dun is NOT a real place, but there are three standing stone areas near the city including Gask, Balnuaran of Clava, Craig Phadrig (a hill fort). You can check them out here: http://www.stonepages.com/ancient_scotland/home.htm.

Stones and clava cairns at Balnauran of Clava near Inverness, Scotland
Stones & clava cairns at Balnauran of Clava near Inverness

 

The infamous JACK BLACK RANDALL was at FORT WILLIAM. His position in the book is somewhat different than in the TV program but Fort William is a very real place about 62 miles south west of Inverness in the West Highland and just north of Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the British Isles. You can see more about the Fort at the West Highland Museum: http://www.westhighlandmuseum.org.uk/. Fort William and has recently reopened.

I always think of Fort William as a fort, but now, at least, it is a town near and apparently encompassing the still existing village of Inverlochy (Inverlochy Castle). Here’s something interesting about the Gaelic name from Wikipedia:

Questions over the town’s Gaelic name are equally interesting. The Gaelic name for the town is An Gearasdan, and this is the result of a transliteration from the French term Garrison. French loan-words in the Gaelic language are very rare, and can only correspond with specific times in Scottish history: during David I’s politically pacifying introduction of a Norman aristocracy in Scotland after the Norman conquest of England, and the period covering the Auld Alliance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_William,_Scotland#History

 

Fort William & Ben Nevis,, Scotland
Fort William & Ben Nevis,, Scotland

 

The original fort was built in 1654 by Cromwell’s forces as a small wooden citadel, but in 1689, after the Glorious Revolution (William and Mary) and first Jacobite rising, William of Orange. The Fort was involved in the massacre of 38 members of the MacDonald family at the hands of troops from Fort Williams who had been moved south and billeted with the MacDonalds. The Captain was ordered by Major Robert Duncanson to , …””fall upon the Rebells… and putt all to the sword under seventy.” (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/glencoe/glencoe/index.html) This occurred on February 13, 1692. And is known as the Glencoe Massacre. Of course it is much more complicated than that, and many more died of exposure while escaping.

Undiscovered Scotland posts:

Fort William fulfilled the purpose for which it was built when, on 14 March 1746, Jacobite forces mounted an attack. They were fought off by the garrison and placed the fort under siege, with the help of artillery on the high ground to the east. The Jacobites withdrew on 3 April 1746 and it was two weeks later that they were decisively defeated by government forces under the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of Culloden.
www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/fortwilliam/oldfort/index.html

 Simon Fraser, 11th Baron Lovat by William Hogarth

Simon, Lord Lovatt is not a place but a person related to Jamie. Lovatt was Jamie’s paternal grandfather and the 11th Lord Lovatt. His seat, Beauly, actually existed and while mentioned in OUTLANDER, Claire and Jamie first meet him a while before Culloden in book two, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. While well known for playing both sides of the conflicts, he was convicted of treason in London in March of 1747 and executed in April of the same year. He was the last man beheaded in England.

Culloden Moor, mentioned above, is, of course real.

Culloden Battlefield
Overlooking Culloden Battlefield, from behind Jacobite line 2004 (wikimedia)

The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Hanoverian victory at Culloden decisively halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never mounted any further attempts to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden

Clan Fraser Grave at Culloden (enhanced)
Clan Fraser Grave at Culloden (enhanced) for unenhanced pic go to: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fraser_culloden.jpg

I am positive there are more places like these, lesser known than the places we know exist, like Edinburgh, Paris, and such. But, are there places you’ve wondered about? Drop me a line and I will try to find out!
Here’s an interactive Google Map; I hope it is useful.