The pictures above are:

Graham McTavish listens to a question from the audience during his panel at the Calgary Expo 2015. Youngjim, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Sam Heughan speaking at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con International. Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We continue our review of Men in Kilts Series One with a look at the locations visited in Episodes Four to Eight

This is part two of the blog post. Here is Clanlands and Men in Kilts locations review (part 1).

Men in Kilts, Episode Four – Witchcraft and Superstition

This episode starts off at Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. Here Sam and Graham meet with a ‘Death Historian’ named Charlotte Gollege. One area of the kirkyard served as a prison for more than 1,000 Covenantors, two-thirds of whom perished whilst incarcerated.

The entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard

In 1638, thousands of Scots signed the National Covenant, resisting changes imposed by King Charles I on Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Covenant is a biblical term for a bond or agreement with God. For two decades, the Covenanters took control of Scotland. However, after the 1660 Restoration of Charles II to the English throne, the Covenanters lost control of the kirk (church). They became a persecuted minority, leading to several armed rebellions and a period from 1679 to 1688 known as ‘The Killing Time’.

Covenanter ‘Martyrs’ Memorial’

The Covenanting movement began with signing of the National Covenant in Greyfriars Kirk on 28 February 1638. Following the defeat of the militant Covenanters at Bothwell Brig in 1679, some 1200 Covenanters were imprisoned in a field to the south of the churchyard. The Covenanters’ Monument, also known as the ‘Martyrs Memorial’ (shown above) in Greyfriars Kirkyard and erected in 1706/7, commemorates 18,000 martyrs killed from 1661 to 1680.

Somewhat ironically, also in the kirkyard, near the infamous ‘Greyfriars Prison’, stands the mausoleum of Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh who, as Kings Advocate, was responsible for the zealous prosecution of the Covenanters.

The mausoleum of Sir George MacKenzie of Rosehaugh
The most famous dog in Scotland – Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who guarded his owner’s resting place in the kirkyard for 14 years until he too passed on in 14th January 1872. Interestingly, for Outlander fans, his owner was a John Gray. Bobby has a headstone in the kirkyard near to his master’s and a bust outside on the junction of George IV Bridge and Candlemaker Row. The story of Bobby has been questioned for its accuracy.

John Gray and Greyfriars Bobby Headstones

We enjoyed the film ‘The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby’ (2005/2006) starring Christopher Lee. This film was shot at Stirling Castle, which does bear a good resemblance to Edinburgh Castle.

Stirling Castle
Stirling Castle with Robert the Bruce statue (by Andrew Currie, 1876)
Argyll And Sutherland Highlanders Monument Statue Outside Stirling Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
More from Greyfriars kirkyard
Headstones at Greyfriars Kirkyard, including that of Duncan Forbes of Culloden

Duncan Forbes, the 5th Laird of Culloden, was a very influential man. He was very impactful in Inverness, Culloden and in the ’45 Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden – which we cover in detail in our Culloden Experience Virtual Tour. He progressed to the office of Lord Advocate (1725-36), Lord President of the Court of Session (1737-47) and also as an MP.

Duncan Forbes (1685 – 1747)
Views of old Edinburgh from Greyfriars kirkyard

The next step on the Men in Kilts tour takes Heughan and McTavish to Wormistan House, where they a learn about the history of witchcraft in Scotland. A witch expert, Leonard Low, shows them all the torture devices that were used on those accused of witchcraft including thumb screws, pokers, and head vices. Wormistan House is the family home of Clan McCallum. These lands have been previously associated with: King Robert the Bruce; Clan Spens who were fiercely loyal to the Stuart dynasty and were followers of Mary Queen of Scots; Clan Balfour and Clan Lindsay – also loyal Jacobites. ‘Wormistoune’ is by myth and legend the spiritual home of the Scottish Wyrm – a fearsome dragon-like serpent, allegedly slain by a medieval knight.

Our duo visit a Beltane festival. A woman explains the event represents how “everything comes to full-blown life” and the beauty of womanhood is celebrated. Beltane is a celebration of fertility and fire, which draws people together.

Beltane Festival

Finally, the pair take the ferry to the Isle of Lewis where they visit the famous Callanish Stones. Along with Clava Cairns (near us at Culloden), these standing stones in the Outer Hebrides inspired a key part of the Outlander storyline written by Diana Gabaldon. The production team of the Outlander TV series carefully took casts of these stones to recreate them in Styrofoam for the filming of Craigh na Dun scenes. This filming was mostly done on location at a remote spot on Rannoch Moor. However, one special shot was recreated in the studio using 100 cameras to do a 360 rotation. The dancing scene at sunrise involved the use of a huge light, which stood in for the sun!

Callanish Stones – LornaMCampbell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Craigh na Dun Outlander filming location on Rannoch Moor
The location for the (styrofoam) standing stones

Men in Kilts, Episode Five – Culture and Tradition

The men visit the haberdashery at Stewart Christie & Co. now at 63 Queen Street in Edinburgh. This business dates back to 1720. The original shop was on the Royal Mile, which means that Jacobites would have marched past when they entered Edinburgh in 1745. Stewart Christie & Co. prides itself on making bespoke suits in the store. The two men are happy to oblige and look very ‘dapper’ in their custom suits. They certainly looked a lot smarter than these Jacobites from the Penicuik drawings depicting the Jacobites entering Edinburgh in 1745 prior to the battle of Prestonpans:

HarrisTweed® or Clo Mor (“big cloth” in Gaelic) is a tactile, soft, breathable, warm and colourful handmade weave. Unusually, it is dyed before it is spun. This means many vibrant colours are woven together. Tweed has been woven by hand for centuries on the islands of Lewis and Harris, the Uists, Benbecula and Barra.  It is made exactly the same way on all of them. Historically it was exclusively handwoven. There are now also three mills producing Big Cloth that is exported to over 50 countries.

Harris Tweed was a favourite fabric of Queen Victoria. During Victorian times, tweed became the fashion choice of landed gentry and aristocracy of the time. Poor quality ‘knock-offs’ led to Harris Tweed® being trademarked and the production process, including where it was made, being legally protected in 1909 by the Harris Tweed Association. Since 1911, Orb and Maltese Cross has acted as a mark of certification. An Act of Parliament – ‘The Harris Tweed® Act 1993’ – established the Harris Tweed® Authority as the successor to the Harris Tweed Association, or The Guardians of the Orb.

Traditional weaving with loom and shuttle

Gaelic lessons were ‘endured’ with a woman named Morag McDonald. Sam does speak some Gaelic, but Graham largely learned his lines phonetically, at least for his longer speeches, which were typically those in support of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Not only was learning Gaelic to be endured, Sam in particular was being eaten alive by midges during the filming of this section. Maybe this makes sense when you realise that it is only the female midges that bite?

Midge season is typically from mid-May to mid-September. The exact timing and appearance of midges depends on a number of factors such as: geography (where you are), weather (midges don’t like sunshine or wind), height (they are less common above 700m or 2300ft). Geographically, if you are out in the country, close to trees and water, away from built-up areas – then, especially on still, damp and overcast days, or in the evening, you are quite likely to encounter midges during the summer months. They are more prevalent in the central, North and West Highlands, especially away from the coast. It is said that midges like dark clothes, so you might want to wear light clothes. Some people swear by taking Vitamin B and/or eating Marmite (or Vegemite). Others rely on smoking, as advocated by Queen Victoria when in the Highlands. Insect repellent and citronella may help to repel the midge.

We rarely find them to be a bother on our Outlander tours. We carry Smidge repellent just in case. A very useful tool is the midge forecast on the Smidgeup website, which provides a timely map and a scale of the likelihood of encountering biting midges.

Moving on, Claire Mackay teaches Sam and Graham about herbalism. She is fairly local to us in the Highlands and we’ve met her at local events. She has hosted ‘Claire’s Herbal Trail’ at an Outlander Weekend hosted in conjunction with Inverness Botanic Gardens. You can find Claire on her Outlander Herbalist page on Facebook, or her Highland Herbs and Scottish teas & apothecary websites. Claire worked for Starz on Outlander Series One as their herbalist consultant, advising on scenes involving the other Claire (Fraser) and Geillis. Claire Mackay has run workshops in the gardens of Culross Palace, where some of the Outlander scenes were filmed, including those of Claire and Geillis in the herb garden (at Castle Leoch).

Culross Palace Gardens – Outlander filming location for the herb gardens at Castle Leoch

Next, the lads try some basket weaving with Lise Bech and Anna Liebmann. A not-so-well-known fact is that Sam Heughan’s uncle, Trevor Leat, is one of the foremost creators of willow structures in the UK and made both the stag in Season 4 of Outlander and the fiery cross in Season 5. You can read more about the tradition of the Fiery Cross in our blog post: Outlander – The Origins of the Fiery Cross.

Episode five closes with Sam and Graham on the Isle of Skye, where they experience some of the crofting lifestyle and try their hand at herding and shearing sheep.

I think this image may best sum up their sheep herding efforts:

Below are some of the blackhouses (crofting homesteads) at The Skye Museum of Island Life on the Trotternish Peninsula. The museum depicts island life in the 18th and 19th centuries.

James Boswell, in an account of his visit to Skye with Dr. Johnson in 1773, described such blackhouses as follows – “We had no rooms that we could command, for the good people here had no notion that a man could have any occasion but for a mere sleeping-place“.

As well as lots of information about historic crofting, The Skye Museum of Island Life has excellent exhibits about Flora MacDonald and her escapades helping Bonnie Prince Charlies evade capture by Government Redcoat soldiers when he was on the run after the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Men in Kilts, Episode Six – Scotland by Land, Air and Sea

The opening shots are a very familiar sight for us, as Sam and Graham struggle to cycle up the steep hill to the Quiraing, where the views are also breathtaking.

The Quiraing on Skye

The episode starts with Sam and Graham on the shores of Loch Ness. They are joined by a familiar face – Gary Lewis – the actor who plays Colum Mackenzie in Outlander. Sam regales an old story of how Scotland and her Isles were created. They row out onto Loch Ness before leaving Gary and heading off to the Isle of Skye.

As well as the Quiraing, they visit the Old Man of Storr, which is the basis of another giant story. Both the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr have been filming locations for several movies – Macbeth, The BFG, Stardust, The Land that Time Forgot, Snow White and the Huntsmen, 47 Ronin, King Arthur – Legend of the Sword, and Transformers: The Last Knight. These locations form part of our memorable day on Skye during our Seven Day Outlander Tours.

The distant Old Man of Storr, shot overlooking Loch Leathan
Overlooking the Isle of Raasay and Applecross beyond, looking past The Old Man of Storr

Sam tells us about the legend of the old hag that created Scotland. The giant hag, or Cailleach – maker of landscape and weather – dropped rocks out of her wicker basket, which became the Isles. Also known as Beira, Queen of Winter, she ruled over winter, while another hag, Brìghde, ruled the summer months between Bealltainn (Beltane) and Samhainn (Samhain).

Beira, Queen of Winter

They take a seaplane with Loch Lomond Seaplanes and fly over the peak of Ben Lomond while planning a daring abseil. They then board Caledonian MacBrayne ferries to cross from The Minch over to the Isle of Skye. Graham manages to overcome his fear of heights to the sound of cheers, while Sam looks a natural as they abseil (rappel) down Kilt Rock with Skye Highland Adventures.

Kilt Rock

After having lost the earlier sporting competition, Sam turns the tables on Graham by seemingly managing to enjoy their very chilly dip in the Fairy Pools, another truly stunning and out-of-the-way location on Skye.

The Fairy Pools and the Black Cuillin Mountains, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye

Men in Kilts, Episode Seven – Clans & Tartans

Sam and Graham begin by explaining why the clans were such an important part of Scotland’s history.

The feuding clans of Clan MacLeod and Clan MacDonald are discussed at the kirkyard by the ruined Trumpan Church on the Waternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye. When in use, the church was known to its Gaelic-speaking congregation as Cille Chonain, or St Conan’s Church. A nearby cairn commemorates Roderick MacLeod of Unish, who died in the Second Battle of Waternish in 1530.

Trumpnan Church

In 1578, The MacDonalds of Uist torched the gathering MacLeod churchgoers in Trumpan Church; an act of retaliation for a MacLeod raid on the MacDonalds on the nearby Isle of Eigg in 1577. Four hundred MacDonalds hid in a cave and suffocated when the MacLeods set fire to the entrance to try to smoke them out.  These actions led to retribution by the MacLeod’s at Dunvegan, ten miles away, in the Battle of the Spoiling of the Dyke. After this battle, the bodies of the dead MacDonalds were lined up beside a dry stone wall or dyke, and were buried by the simple expedient of having the dyke pushed over on top of them. In a final battle from this period, a group of MacDonalds raided (or reived) MacLeod cattle. They were caught and all killed by the MacLeods.

A headstone in the kirkyard at Trumpnan Church with a drystone wall behind it

Next, Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle explains the making of tartan plaid. Claire successfully crowd-funded a project to bring back the production of tartan to the Highlands. She uses a 100 year old loom in a converted Black Isle Farm Steading near Culbokie, creating The Black House Mill. It is the only textiles mill on the official North Coast 500 route (NC500, likened to America’s Route 66). Claire designed and made the official Tartan for nearby Tomatin Distillery, which is a favourite of ours and is featured in our ‘Outlander Distilled‘ virtual tour and webinar all about Scotch Whisky and distilling.

Claire could design and make a tartan for you too. Many individuals and organisations have their own tartan, not just clans. These include: America (the American), Australia (the Australian), Coca-Cola, the European Union, the FBI, Harley Davidson, Hard Rock Café, Irn Bru, the Lady Boys of Bangkok, New York City, New Jersey, Peter Pan, Peter Rabbit and the Titanic, to name but a few.

Do you remember the Waulking song in Outlander? Waulking is the rhythmic singing while working the wool, to tighten the weave and fix the dye with urine. The scene was filmed at the Highland Folk Museum – a popular stop on our three and seven-day Outlander Tours. In Outlander, the ladies sing “Mo Nighean Donn”. We have a good old sing-along in our minibus to this too. In this episode of Men in Kilts, Sam and Graham sit down with the Badenoch Waulking Group to do the same.

Highland Folk Museum – where the ‘Rent’ episode and the waulking scene were filmed

Continuing the theme of feuding clans, the lads visit Balquhidder, near Callander. This is reputed to be the site of the grave of the infamous outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor at Balquhidder Parish Church (Kirk). Sam and Graham meet representatives from feuding clans – Peter John Lawrie from Clan MacGregor and Donald MacLaren from Clan MacLaren. These two clans have been in various disputes over the local lands and glen for several hundred years. These long-running disputes are connected to the Stewart and Campbell dynasties and old alliances that were at the centre of the Jacobite rebellions.

Balquhidder Kirk

According to Peter Lawrie, Balquhidder is said to derive from Gaelic ‘both phuidir‘, possibly meaning ‘the dwelling or holy site of the Puidir’. Pudir deriving from Pudrac, meaning a monolith, probably of Neolithic origin.

The Kirk dates back to 1631. It seems that Rob Roy did indeed die at Balquhidder on 9th January 1735. It is less clear, and disputed, as to where he is buried. The authenticity of the three unnamed carved stone slabs, which are now surrounded by railings with inscriptions, is debated.

The metal railings that protect the slabs bear the names of Rob Roy, Mary, Coll and Robin. They were installed at a ceremony attended by a number of eminent MacGregors in 1890.

Sir Walter Scott, in 1817, stated in the introduction to his novel ‘Rob Roy’ that he was buried at Balquhidder kirk. Here is the excerpt:

In contrast to the dates of Roy’s death above, Scott also says:

The following passage is also in our copy of Rob Roy:

We were lucky to be able to purchase a complete set of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. Published in 1893-1894, the 48 volumes, known as ‘The Border Edition’ were published by John Nimmo (London) and include notes by Andrew Lang. The set include Rob Roy volumes I & II.

Rob Roy and his band of MacGregors were well known for their cattle rustling or ‘reiving’ also known as cattle ‘lifting’. The ‘Wild MacGregors’, were the plague of the Trossachs area in Scotland for centuries. Rob Roy MacGregor established a protection racket, charging farmers an average 5% of their annual rent to ensure that their cattle remained safe.

The ‘Roy’ nickname stems from his mop of red curly hair. Below is an etching from our Rob Roy volume I depicting the stealing of cattle, followed by a second etching depicting Rob Roy himself.

Next, our duo travel in style by seaplane (Loch Lomond Seaplanes) to Knapdale Argyll, to see the ruinous 12th century Castle Sween on Loch Sween – Graham’s clan ancestral seat. The McTavishes came over from Ireland and married into the Sween family. Castle Sween was built at a time when this part of Scotland was still under Norse rule. The castle was held by the MacSweens until the middle of the 13th century, the Stewarts of Menteith from around 1262 until 1362, then by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, then by the MacNeils and then by the MacMillans, after whom the MacMillan Tower is named. Nearby, MacMillan’s Cross is a fine carved cross, decorated with a crucified Christ, housed in Kilmory Knap Chapel.

The discussion about clans continues at Beaufort Castle, seat of The Frasers of Lovat, with historian and Clan representative Sarah Fraser. Sarah wrote the book ‘The Last Highlander’ – a book about the intriguing Simon ‘The Fox’ Fraser, Lord Lovat. The book is described as a great non-fiction adventure about Scotland’s most notorious clan chief.

Beaufort Castle is private and no longer owned by Clan Fraser. The current baronial style mansion was built in 1880 and can be glimpsed from the lovely walk along the River Beauly, as shown below. It is on the site of the 12th century Dounie Castle, which was attacked and burned by the forces of Oliver Cromwell during their invasion of Scotland in the 1650s. The castle was again burned to the ground by the Duke of Cumberland after the Battle of Culloden.

In Outlander, Simon, Lord Lovat is portrayed as Jamie Fraser’s grandfather. In the episode ‘The Fox’s Lair’, set in 1745, Jamie and Claire arrive at Castle Beaufort to ask Lord Lovat (played by actor Clive Russell) to commit his clan to the Jacobite cause. They unexpectedly meet Colum Mackenzie there, who was discussing the ‘situation’ with Lord Lovat. This is where Claire catches her first glimpse of Maisri, Lovat’s seer (fortune teller), who shared her vision of Lord Lovat’s death.

Beaufort Castle

Sarah Fraser confirms that the Frasers of Lovat had ongoing tensions and feuds with the powerful Athol Murrays and the neighboring Clan Mackenzie. For several generations until Simon ‘The Fox’ Fraser, Lord Lovat, the clan had come off worse in these local clashes of interest. The Fox managed to rebuild the strength and a more dominant position for the Lovat clan, until he lost his head (literally) in 1747 after supporting the Jacobites at Culloden.

Below is the famous etching by William Howarth, of Simon, Lord Lovat, on his way done to London, following his capture after the Battle of Culloden, aged 78. He was tried for treason in Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament in March and April 1747.

Found guilty, he was beheaded at Tower Hill on 9th April 1747. The people of London were given a public holiday to go and watch this. Before his sentence was carried out, a section of temporary spectator seating collapsed, killing at least 20 people and injuring many more. This amused Lord Lovat, who was said to still be laughing when the axe swung. This gave rise to the well-known phrase “laughing your head off”.

The axe and chopping block used to part Lord Lovat from his head.
By Katherine Hunter, on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

We’ve stood next to the chopping block where Lord Lovat lost his head. It was part of a wonderful ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites’ exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, in Edinburgh in 2017.

Recently, we’ve invested in several books on Simon ‘The Fox’ Fraser, including two very old and rare first editions published in 1746 and 1797; these are: (i) ‘The life, Adventures, And Many and Great Vicissitudes of Fortune of Simon, Lord Lovat, the head of the family of Frasers’, and (ii) ‘Memoires of the Life of Simon Lord Lovat; written by himself…’.

We also own ‘Trial of Simon, Lord Lovat of the ’45’ (1911), ‘Lord Lovat of the ‘45’ (1957) and, of course, Sarah Fraser’s ‘The Last Highlander’ (2012). The ‘Old Fox’ will no doubt be the subject of a future virtual tour.

Below is an etching from the first of these above-mentioned books – depicting the moment that Simon, Lord Lovat was captured by the Redcoats. He had allegedly been hiding in a hollow tree on an island – Eilean Ban in Loch Morar, West Highlands, in June 1746.

This episode of Men in Kilts ends with a hearty feast, including fish heads washed down with drams of whisky. Crappit heid is a traditional Scots fish course, consisting of a boiled fish head stuffed with oats, suet and liver. Before you discount it, in 2010, Crappit heid (or ‘ceann-cropaig’ in gaelic) was hailed alongside global landmarks as one of the Lonely Planet’s 1,000 Ultimate Experiences!

Men in Kilts, Episode Eight – Culloden: Scotland’s Most Infamous Battle

In this final episode, Sam and Graham discuss the significance of the Battle of Culloden with Historian Alistair Moffat. They meet him at Borthwick Castle, another private castle that is available for private hire or special events in Midlothian, near Edinburgh.

They learn how The Highlanders put the oldest men in the front ranks, before battle, for their courage and experience. The Highland men would hype themselves for the fight ahead by shouting and screaming themselves into a ‘fit of rage’ known as a fearg or feargach. This derives from the Old Irish ferg, meaning anger or wrath. Highlanders would also recite their genealogy – acknowledging their ancestry and summoning the power of an army of the dead. Some Highlanders could recite back 20 generations, back even to the mythical. Then followed the Highland charge.

Graham McTavish emphasises how the battle may have lasted just a short amount of time but “its legacy has endured for centuries”.  Not only did the Battle of Culloden take the lives of many, but it was also followed by the banning of the Highlanders’ most treasured traditions, including the wearing of tartan (by men), the playing of bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic.

A banner depicting the sentiment beside the Memorial Cairn which was erected in 1881
Red flags depict the Redcoat front line

Every year at Culloden Battlefield, a memorial to the fallen of the Battle of Culloden is held on the Saturday closest to its anniversary on 16th April. Thousands gather to pay their respects. Clan representatives from all over the world lay wreaths and the Gaelic Society of Inverness, who maintain the cairn, lead a service of remembrance.

Battle of Culloden annual memorial
The service of remembrance, led by the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

While standing outside Leanach Cottage, Sam has a pressing question about the real James Fraser. Catriona McIntosh, Visitor Services Manager at Culloden Battlefield, explains that there were five men named James Fraser involved in the battle. None of them were named James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser though.

We have records of some of these men in our books and archives. One of these was James Fraser the 9th of Foyers, also known as Dun Bonnet. He truly did hide from the Redcoats after the Battle of Culloden in a nearby, but out-of-the-way and well-hidden cave. To keep his whereabouts secret, the locals used to speak of him by the nickname “Bonaid Odhair” meaning Dun Coloured Bonnet; Dun meaning a grey/brown colour.

Dun Bonnet’s cave – not at all easy to find

There is also local folklore regarding a young lad who was taking provisions to Dun Bonnet at his cave. Redcoat soldiers suspected what he was up to and followed him. The lad refused to give up Dun Bonnet and the soldiers cut off his hand. Hence, the Outlander storyline of young Fergus.

Leanach Cottage on Culloden Battlefield

Sam and Graham regale how it was emotional saying goodbye to the characters that were killed off at, or just after, the Culloden storyline.

The tour of Culloden was piped out by Iain McGillivray, walking across the battlefield playing ‘Lochaber No More’.

With regards to Culloden, we could wax lyrical on the topic here. Instead, we recommend our in-depth ‘Culloden Experience’ Virtual Tour, which takes you through the battle and the wider area of Culloden, which is where we live. We share many insights and historic artefacts on this virtual tour which you are unlikely to experience if you were to visit the area and the battlefield.

Sam and Graham return to Doune Castle (the filming location for Castle Leoch in Outlander), where they meet up with reenactment specialists Charlie Allan, Graeme Carlyle and Finn Allan from Combat International.

Charlie Allan is Chief Executive of the Clanranald Trust & Combat International. His mission is to promote interest in Scottish culture and history through interactive education and entertainment. In 2007, he contributed to the National Trust of Scotland’s Battle of Culloden film.

In the Duchess Hall of Doune Castle, Sam and Graham are drilled in the use of the basket-hilt sword and the Lochaber axe. Interestingly, the two antique Lochaber axes that they used (from Clanranald Trust) are identical to our own, shown below.

If you look out from the end window of the Duchess Hall, you see a field where the Outlander Castle Leoch stables scenes were filmed. This is where Jamie Fraser breaks in the horses and where Claire brings him food to eat.

One of our Basket Hilt Broadswords and our antique Lochaber Axe

Clanranald Trust has hundreds of volunteer clan members across the world. The trust has built a full-scale replica of a medieval village – Duncarron – near Falkirk. Their battle reenactment arm, Combat International, is regularly hired by television and film crews to take part in fighting scenes. They have contributed to scenes from Gladiator, Robin Hood, King Arthur, the BBC’s Blood of the Clans, Netflix’s Norsemen Season as well as Outlander. A Duncarron Appeal was set up in 2020 to help keep the self-funded Duncarron Village viable while all of their film and educational work had dried up due to the pandemic. Charlie Allen also fronts a fabulous Scottish band called Saor Patrol. We recommend that you look them up on YouTube – they sound great.

Charlie Allan and Russell Crowe at Duncannon medieval Village

Finally, Sam & Graham meet with the Outlander armorers Jim Elliot and Iain Bowden to discuss the replica weapons used in Outlander, reminiscing on when Jim gave them their first swords on Outlander. They discuss the muskets and bayonets carried by the Government soldiers and the drills used to help defeat the Jacobites.

A few of our Jacobite weapons plus a ‘Je suis pres’ Clan Fraser cushion

In Conclusion

With regards to a follow-on book or series, Sam said: “We’ve barely scratched the surface of Scotland, but we’ve also discussed the rest of the world. There are so many Scottish ties to different countries like America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand just to name a few. These are all places I could see us riding our tandem bicycle around“.

This month (February 2022), Sam has posted tweets of Men in Kilts ‘down-under’ as they complete filming Season 2, which explores the Scottish influence on New Zealand across eight episodes.

Around 20% of the original European population of New Zealand came from Scotland. Dunedin, the second-largest city in NZ is the Gaelic word for Edinburgh, with which it is twinned.

This is Part 2 of our blog post inspired by Men in Kilts. Here is the link to Part 1 – Clanlands and Men in Kilts Locations Review (Part 1) – which covers an introduction and Episodes 1 to 3.

All photographs were taken by Andrew Nicholson, unless otherwise stated, and are copyright © Tour the Scottish Highlands Ltd.

4 Responses

  • Pamela Stoffel

    What a wonderful job you have done, Andy, in creating a text and combination of historical and personal photographs that parallel the material in “Men in Kilts”. Your research is impressive and continues to add to the fabric that is Scotland. Thank you for your labors of love!

    • Andrew Nicholson

      Thank you Pamela. It was quite a lot of work, but was fun and as we had been to most of the places, it made sense to write it all up.

  • C Collins

    Absolutely wonderful. Easy to read; a labour of love to be sure.


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