Are you a fan of visiting filming locations? Scotland is full of them! Locations for Harry Potter are quite famous. There’s another which might top even those. Doune Castle is the filming location for Monty Python, Game of Thrones and Outlander, and it’s only an hour away from Edinburgh.
Doune Castle dates back to the 15th century. Like most castles in Scotland, it has a long and colorful history. Mary Queen of Scots stayed there on several occasions, and Bonnie Prince Charlie used it as a garrison during his Jacobite Rebellion. It fell into disuse after the Jacobites were defeated and by the beginning of the 19th century, it was a ruined shell.
Ruined, but not useless. In 1974, Monty Python was set to shoot their upcoming movie at several castles across Scotland but lost access to those castles shortly before filming. Instead, they ended up filming nearly their entire movie at Doune Castle. That movie of course is the cult classic Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Incidentally, Terry Jones of Monty Python is the voice of the castle’s audio guide.
Game of Thrones also used Doune Castle for Winterfell sets in their pilot episode. Most articles giving this fact fail to mention that the pilot was never aired. It was refilmed with castles in Ireland and soundstages taking the place of the Doune Castle scenes.
More recently, the hit TV series Outlander has featured Doune Castle prominently in the first two seasons as Castle Leoch. Village sets were created around the castle and several rooms were used, including the kitchens where Mrs. Fitz runs a tight ship. I’m currently watching that series myself and can’t get enough of it.
Next week, The Outlaw King featuring Chris Pine comes out as a Netflix movie. It also features Doune Castle, even though the castle had yet to be built in the time of Robert the Bruce.
Getting to Doune Castle is very simple. You can hire a car for as little as $10 a day and drive up the M9/A9 highway past Stirling, following the signs to Doune. It’s about an hour drive, depending on traffic. Alternately, you can join any of several tour companies going to Doune Castle on a daily basis, such as Gray Line Scotland (with free hotel pickup), Rabbies (smaller buses), Haggis Adventures (ideal for backpackers), or the donation-based Hairy Coo Tours.
Entry to the castle is now £6 ($7.80) and you can get a 10% discount with some of the tours. The ticket includes the audio guide dictated by Terry Jones. It takes about 45 minutes to get through the tour, including the four extra tracks for the Outlander spots. If you have more time, spend a few minutes walking around the grounds and down to the river. The surrounding countryside is simply stunning.