View of Blackness Castle with a clapper board in the foreground

Historic Scotland sites are no stranger to the big screen having featured in a diverse array of productions from classic comedy capers to Bollywood blockbusters.

Read on to discover which four of our sites are the biggest film stars, and find out the best ways to explore them.

Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle is an impressive fortress on the banks of the Forth. In recent years, it has become a popular filming location and has played host to a number of high profile productions, including 2019’s Mary Queen of Scots starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.

Mel Gibson and Glen Close filmed the 1990 film Hamlet here. It also made an appearance in the 1996 film The Bruce, alongside Brian Blessed and Oliver Reed.

You might also recognise it from series 1 of Outlander where Blackness stood in for ‘Fort William’.

Aerial photo of Blackness Castle taken by drone.

Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and is a magnificent ruin to explore. This royal pleasure palace, located just 20 miles from Edinburgh, was a welcome stopping place for the royal court when travelling between Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. Linlithgow Palace was used as Wentworth Prison’s corridors and entrances in Series 1 of Outlander.

Are you interested in exploring all of our sites that have featured in Outlander? Download our Outlander itinerary which has ideas for where to explore over 3 or 7 days.

A view of Linlithgow Palace from the air

Craigmillar Castle

Recently, Craigmillar Castle has played host to a number of exciting large scale productions which are soon to be released, including the Netflix epic Outlaw King.

Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’ can also be spotted in the 1997 BBC TV production Ivanhoe – which featured James Cosmo, Victoria Smurfitt and Christopher Lee. And in series 3 of Outlander, you might have seen it as Ardsmuir Prison where Jamie was imprisoned after the Battle of Culloden.

view of Criagmillar Castle on an autumn day

Doune Castle

Perhaps the most famous of our castles among Outlander fans, Doune Castle takes a starring role as Castle Leoch, the home of Clan MacKenzie.

Doune is no stranger to the big screen, and has previously starred in Monty Python and The Holy Grail and it was also used as the set for Winterfell in Game of Thrones.

When visiting, you can even enjoy audio guided tours from Sam Heughan of Outlander fame, and Monty Python’s Terry Jones.

Exterior view of Doune Castle

Tantallon Castle

One of the last of the grand medieval castles, the mighty Tantallon Castle was home to the Red Douglas dynasty.

Set high on a cliff edge, the castle’s dramatic position makes it a perfect filming location. It appears in the critically acclaimed film Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Along with Inchmahome Priory and Crossraguel Abbey, the castle was exposed to a huge new audience in 1998 when it featured in the Bollywood smash hit Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. 

The cult rom-com continues to attract visitors to its Scottish filming locations. To mark its 20th anniversary, a new guide was produced to help fans follow in the ‘dance steps’ of their on-screen heroes.

A shot of the ruined Tantallon Castle, showing its dramatic cliff top position. Waves crash on the rocks below the castle.

There’s much more to discover…

If you want to explore other Historic Scotland sites that have featured in films and TV programmes, download our ‘Historic Scotland on Screen’ map. And be sure to pick up an Explorer Pass (or better still, become a member!) to ensure you can visit as many locations as you wish.

Many of our sites can be hired for filming. If you have a project in mind, take a look here, and contact our filming team to discuss.


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About Author

Kara ter Morsche

Kara ter Morsche is one of our marketing executives, working mainly with our national events programme and Historic Scotland properties in the South.