- Outlander -‘Outlander’ Filming Locations, From Scotland To South Africa
Jamie and Claire have had a whirlwind relationship to say the least on Outlander. Separated over and over again by centuries and continents, this everlasting pair always manages to find their way back to each other by hook or by crook — even when imprisonment, time travel, and impending wars aren’t always on their side. Along the way, their adventures have made them jet-setters, traversing the Scottish Highlands of Glen Coe in the opening credits to the rolling hills of colonial North Carolina last season.
In a time where we all can’t go through the stones past this pandemic, The Dipp decided to hop aboard the Artemis for a little escapist voyage around the world with Jamie and Claire, Bree and Roger, and even Frank (!) to trace the most prominent Outlander filming locations of where we’ve been up to in the five seasons of the show.
Scotland, Of Course
Sing me a song of a lass that is gone. Say could that lass, be I? Scotland is the crux of the entire Outlander canon, as all the way back in the series’ pilot, “Sassenach,” Claire travels through the stones at the fictional Craigh na Dun on a visit to Inverness with her then-husband Frank Randall, transporting her back in time to 1743 — and into the arms of Jamie Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.
Fair editor’s note though: Scotland is undoubtedly the home base for the series onscreen and off due to repurposed Scottish sets as stand-ins for international locales. Scotland’s tourist website even has a map of filming locations to envelop you into the mystical world of Outlander.
So where are some of the happening places we do trod through in Scotland “as Scotland,” especially in Season 1? Well, Claire is introduced to Clan MacKenzie at Castle Leoch (a.k.a., Doune Castle, near Stirling), and spends her time there figuring out how the heck to get back to the 20th century while also making her medical prowess indispensable to her fellow 18th century castle-dwellers.
Castle Leoch is also a tourist locale she and Frank visit in 1945 on their couple’s vacation, an interesting parallel to later in the episode when she sees the castle at its full capacity.
Midway through the season, she and Jamie marry in the dreamy parkland of Glencorse Old Kirk. But he soon has to save her from the grimy clutches of Frank’s unseemly doppelgänger of a relative, Black Jack Randall. Via flashback, we learn Black Jack had ferociously whipped Jamie at Fort William, the real life Blackness Castle in Scotland.
In the merry present, Jamie and his new bride visit his ancestral home of Lallybroch (Midhope Castle) before he is captured by Black Jack and tortured in Wentworth Prison, known as Linlithgow Palace (which, fun fact: is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots). But ever the survivor, he makes his escape and departs for France with Claire and Murtagh (see below).
Scotland is also the home of the historically catastrophic Battle of Culloden, where Jamie forces Claire to leave him and go back through the stones in order to protect her and their unborn baby Bree from the violence at the end of Season 2.
While Jamie and Claire are separated for 20 years, Jamie survives Culloden and is eventually taken to Ardsmuir prison, where he befriends Lord John Grey. His servitude is then transferred over to the care of the Dunsany family in Helwater (modern-day Gosford House), where he ultimately conceives a child, Willie.
Meanwhile in 1968, Claire and Brianna travel back to Inverness for a funeral, where they meet Roger Wakefield, and he tells Claire that Jamie did not die in Culloden. Claire also confesses to Brianna that Frank was not in fact her father, but Jamie - 200 years earlier.
Edinburgh also serves as a prominent site in the series as the locale of Jamie and Claire’s reunion, which as we all fondly remember, causes him to faint at the site of his lost love of 20 years. She visits his print shop, under the care of his alias, A. Malcolm.
Together again, they then return home to Lallybroch with Young Ian, where Claire learns Jamie had previously married a widowed Laoghaire. Quite the blow, for Claire, and for us viewers. But don’t worry, that ship has long sailed and they board a new one to Jamaica...
France (Paris, Versailles, The Works)
But before Jamie and Claire's painful goodbye at the end of Season 2, they try their darndest to implore Charles Stewart to hold off on the Battle of Culloden to no avail. Their efforts take them to France, docking in Le Havre (really the southeast Scottish port of Dysart Harbour in Fife).
By 1744, Claire and Jamie are safely settled in Paris away from memories of Black Jack, or so they think. Many of the Parisian scenes were actually shot in Prague, much like when Claire volunteers at L'Hopital des Anges to treat medical patients. The hospital is actually the Military Church of St. John of Nepomuk, while the steps of Radnicke Schody stand in for the Parisian exteriors leading up to local apothecary, Master Raymond.
In their noble pursuits, Claire and Jamie find themselves at none other than the Palace of Versailles and encounter King Louis XV himself. The grounds of Scotland’s Drummond Castle serve as the palace’s gardens, while Prague’s Strahov Monastery reimagines King Louis XV’s extensive royal library.
While at Versailles, Jamie comes face to face with the sadistic Black Jack, despite thinking he’d been left for dead back in Season 1, and Claire sleeps with the King in order to win Jamie’s freedom after he’s arrested for dueling with Black Jack. This is the pivotal moment when Claire and Jamie head back to Scotland in anticipation of Culloden.
Season 3 sees Claire in 1948, pregnant and in Boston with Frank, yearning for Jamie and grappling with her grief. Glasgow doubles as Scotland in the series, as Frank serves as a professor at Harvard University (aka the University of Glasgow, here) and they live in the Cambridge area from the 1940s through the 1960s as they raise Brianna. During this period, Claire goes back to medical school herself and becomes a licensed doctor.
After Claire and Bree's failed efforts to trace Jamie back to Ardsmuir, Roger arrives in Boston in December 1968 and gives Claire a clue as to where to find Jamie back in 1765. This is when Claire bids Brianna farewell and returns to Jamie in Edinburgh.
Claire and Jamie’s trials lead them to setting sail on a troubled rescue mission to Jamaica in search of their nephew Young Ian, after he’s taken aboard a ship as a prisoner just when he’s found treasure to help out his uncle. But really, the Outlander team shot their Caribbean isle scenes in Cape Town, South Africa.
Once they finally reach port in Jamaica, they eventually discover their old pal Geillis is holding Young Ian hostage after they attend a ball held at the Governor’s mansion (but actually, the University of Stellenbosch Theology Faculty Building outside of Cape Town). The governor, it turns out, is actually Lord John who aids them in saving Ian.
Colonial America, But Specifically, North Carolina
As they sail far, far away from Geilis and her blood rituals, Jamie, Claire, & Co. are unfortunately caught in a storm. Their shipwreck lands them in the colonial Americas, but at first, in Georgia, at the end of Season 3.
Come Season 4, Jamie and Claire cross paths with the infamously disdainful Stephen Bonnet before making their way up to River Run, the plantation owned by Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta.
Back in the 1700s, Jamie accepts Governor Tryon’s offer of land, which he and Claire view as their chance to finally embark on building a new life together. They call their new settlement of land Fraser’s Ridge, and it’s the heart of Seasons 4 and 5 of the show.
Fraser's Ridge is where Brianna and Roger come to live with Jamie and Claire when they end up traveling back in time, where she raises her son Jemmy, and it’s the place where Jamie and Claire are able to build a community of their own. Not necessarily in their original home of the Scottish Highlands, but with a new crowd of fellow Scottish expats looking to find a semblance of their shared heritage in the New World.
And naturally, most of the North Carolina locales of Fraser’s Ridge are indeed sets in where else but dear old Scotland. "There are sections of Scotland that we have found that do look a bit like North Carolina," showrunner Ron Moore said in an interview with Access in 2018, proving that no matter where Jamie and Claire find themselves next, Scotland is always in the hearts of these outlanders.