Regular readers of my blog will know I am partial to searching out and visiting locations which have been used in the filming of the Outlander TV series. There are two reasons for this; firstly I am a bit of an Outlander fan myself so I enjoy trying to recognise places that have featured in the series, Secondly, in my experience, the locations used are actually really interesting to visit in their own right and in many ways Outlander has inspired me to uncover some of Scotland's hidden gems which I was unaware of until the show brought them to my attention.
Having already visited many locations in the Fife and Edinburgh areas, I decided it was time to add some Perthshire settings to my list and explore two very iconic backdrops featured in Series 1.
My first stop was at Tibbermore Church, the setting of the witch trial in 'The Devil's Mark' episode. Although near the city of Perth it is still off the beaten track enough that I would never have discovered or visited this extremely atmospheric little church had Outlander not captivated my curiosity and like many locations I've visited it was well worth seeking out.
Cared for by The Scottish Redundant Churches Trust since 2001, the original building dates back to 1632, although an earlier church had existed there during the late middle ages. The original design has been modified over the years and after prolonged neglect, the SRCT has been raising funds to carry out much needed repairs and the fee from the filming of Outlander has actually helped to fix the roof which is a really positive extra benefit.
The church is normally locked but arranging a visit was really easy, after e-mailing the SCRT they contacted the key-holder who lives next door and she organised to meet me and give me access.
As soon as I stepped through the main door I literally got goosebumps and a really eerie feeling. The gloomy day meant little light was coming through the windows and the dark furniture did nothing to brighten the place up. I can honestly say I've never been in a church quite like it and despite some signs of neglect, the history and character oozed through the dimly lit space.
There are lots of interesting features to look out for including the stained glass windows, a war memorial, the stenciled decoration around the pulpit, the horseshoe seating and large stone tablet inserted in the wall dating back to 1631.
There is also a display board with images from Outlander to show how the church looked during 'The Devil's Mark' and some information notices with more details on the filming.
Of course I couldn't leave without imagining what it must have been like to be on trial as a witch!
The church is well worth discovering whether you are an Outlander fan or not and as the SCRT is a charity which relies on support to care for buildings like this, you might want to consider making a donation if you do visit.
To find out more and make arrangements for access, visit The Scottish Redundant Churches Trust website.
CRAIGH NA DUN
The mysterious stone circle of Craigh na Dun is the Holy Grail of Outlander locations. Unfortunately these particular magical standing stones are purely fictional and many fans have to be satisfied with a visit to one of the many other genuine stone circles that exist in Scotland in the hope of being catapulted back in time to meet their own Jamie.
Many tour companies will take you to Clava Cairns near Inverness, which is said to be the inspiration for Craigh na Dun. However, I was on the hunt for the filming location which very much exists in real life and this took me to a completely different region of the country.
I have to be honest and say it was not easy to pinpoint the exact setting, some Googling provided me a vague idea of what area the filming took place but thanks to some thorough detective work and approximate directions from a friend (who also happens to be an expert Outlander tour guide), I was able to narrow the location down but still wasn't entirely sure I knew where I was going.
"You WILL recognise it!" assured my friend, hmmm. I wasn't entirely persuaded. As I headed through the snow into one of the remoter parts of Scotland I was faced with so many hills and so many trees that I was even more convinced that my trip might have been in vain. Then all of a sudden it magically appeared, my friend was right as it is instantly recognisable to any Outlander fan, even without a stone circle there was no mistaking this was the spot. I excitedly bounded past curious sheep to get a closer look and what a thrilling surprise when I discovered the fixings for the TV stones were still in place!
I did touch a few just to be sure that they didn't hold any secret powers but I remained firmly in the 21st Century, being buffeted by the freezing wind. I even tried hugging a tree trunk just in case some time travelling capabilities had been transferred and to thank nature for guiding me to the right place. All it offered in return was a shelter from the biting weather which was now turning me a deeper shade of Scottish blue.
This is the point where I would normally provide all the details you need to visit the filming location for yourself. Whilst I'm not trying to be secretive and I'm by no means the only person that knows of its whereabouts, I have decided not to publish it here and I must apologise in advance for my first blog rant!
Outlander has created huge opportunities in Scottish tourism and not surprisingly has resulted in many bloggers/writers, tour companies and businesses jumping on the bandwagon and proclaiming themselves as experts. After writing my first guide to Outlander filming locations in Fife I noticed that within days the information I had put online (which was not widely available at that time) was being used by other people to write their own location guides.
While I love to help fans visit destinations used in the series, what annoys me is people being lazy and unethical. Regurgitating facts from the internet doesn't make someone the expert they claim to be and hopefully most fans can tell those with a genuine passion and knowledge of Outlander from the ones that provide generic guides with no personal input or original information. I am not only a fan of the books and Starz production, I also personally research and visit every location before I write about, as with every other travel guide on my blog.
This is when I also must urge those of you booking an Outlander tour of Scotland to do your research first. So many tours have sprung up since the popularity of the series became apparent and they don't all provide an authentic experience. Dare I say that they have become easy ways for some tour companies and businesses in general to make cash, so please do your research to make sure you are getting the best experience for your money. One company I do recommend as they are genuinely passionate and knowledgeable is Mary's Meanders. I have in no way been rewarded for endorsing them so please be assured that I am only recommending them for no other reason than I know they are a great business!
Anyway, I digress, back to Craigh na Dun...
As I mentioned, I could not find the exact location anywhere on the internet and I would hate to think that my detective work and hopeful endeavors into the wilderness could result in another writer copying the information in the pretense of expertise and benefiting from my research. However, my Outlander filming location blogs are designed to help fans and I still want to assist those of you that would like to visit the filming location for yourself so if you would like more information please do e-mail me. I hope you understand why I have regrettably felt the need to do this.
Incidentally if you want to read another travel blog with information about filming locations please pop over and check out my friend Nicola at Funky Ellas Travel who is a fellow fan and also personally researches and visits all of the places featured.
Myself, Nicola and the lovely Colum MacKenzie at the Outlander Amazon Prime UK premiere.
Don't forget to check out the rest of my Outlander filming location guides here
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