Royal Burgh of Culross: on the Outlander trail
Picturesque village has been a magnet for film crews from Hitchcock to Avengers
Fife has more than its fair share of picturesque villages, but Culross is perhaps its most stunning. One of the best preserved examples of a 16th-century town in Scotland, it has been beloved by film crews looking for an authentic backdrop for decades.
Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser have been delighting fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series since the first book was published in 1991. But it was only in 2014 that her much-loved characters came to life on the small screen. The story – in which Claire falls through a time portal in 1940s Inverness and finds herself in 1743 Scotland, where she’s married off to clansman Jamie – is set in Scotland, where filming began in 2013.
Fans of the show will instantly recognise the buildings of Culross, which poses as the village of Cranesmuir in Outlander. In Cranesmuir, Claire (a former WWII nurse) meets and bonds with Geillis Duncan, the procurator fiscal’s wife with whom she shares an interest in the healing power of herbs.
Culross Palace garden also features in the show as the herb garden in Castle Leoch, where Claire collects medicinal plants. In another scene filmed in Culross, Claire and Jamie help to free a young boy who has his ear nailed to a post for stealing.
John Buchan’s thrilling adventure novel The 39 Steps has been treated to numerous adaptations since its publication in 1915, from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll to the long-running West End show. But one version of The 39 Steps was filmed right here in Culross: the 2008 BBC television movie featuring Rupert Penry Jones as its beleaguered hero Richard Hannay. In the film, a political rally is held in Culross, and it’s here that Hannay – unbeknownst to him – meets the traitor he’s looking for.
Avenger Captain America is one of the key characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but did you know that Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) also filmed some scenes in Culross? Culross was used as the backdrop for a Norwegian town in which a battle takes place during World War II, and it features the town’s famous Mercat Cross. This location also turns up in the film adaptation of Kidnapped (1971), featuring Michael Caine, in which Culross plays the role of Edinburgh.
Other films to use Culross as a location include kids’ film The Little Vampire (2000) featuring Richard E Grant and Bollywood film Kyun! Ho Gaya Na (2004).
Royal Burgh of Culross, Fife, KY12 8JH