COTE DE TEXAS: Scottish Tales: Part One

Scottish Tales: Part One

 

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I have finally retired my love of the book series/movies “Twilight.”  It’s about time -  I can hear you say!  A six year obsession is never a good thing for anyone – but I will always have great memories of the many online friends I made who shared my interest in all things Twilight. 

 

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Highlands of Scotland.

When I moved on – I thought I would never go through that adulation again.  No more fandoms, fangirling, or fanfics for me.  No more following movie productions and movie sets and red carpet premieres.  That was all over for me.   

Right? 

Well….

That was until I kept hearing this one word over and over and over again “Outlander.”   What is an Outlander I wondered.   I soon discovered it was a new cable TV series.   I took the plunge one day by “binge-watching” the first 8 episodes of the first season of Outlander - all in one day.   Mr. Slippersocksman watched it with me and he almost likes the Starz series as much as me. 

 

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Where have I been?  Under a rock I guess.   Outlander is based on the book series (eight main books – so far, along with 11 other books and novellas.)   All 19 books (plus two new ones in the works) were written by Diana Gabaldon, who published the first one in 1991, and since then, a total of over 26 million books were sold. 

And never once had I heard of them until Sony produced the TV series based on the first Outlander book all these years later.

 

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The main 8 books in the series so far.  I’m on Book #5 right now.   

With 26 million books sold, you can only imagine how large and rabid the Outlander fandom is.  The fans have waited over 25 years to see their favorite books brought to life!  With the huge success of the first season on Starz, Season Two, based on the second book, is going to start filming next month.  And, hopefully all 8 books will be produced for cable TV. 

 

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The beautiful and ageless (63!) author, Diana Gabaldon, a native from Arizona, wrote Outlander for practice, never planning on it being published.  She holds a PhD in Behavioral Ecology, along with 3 degrees, and had never even been to Scotland when she wrote the historical novel.

Scotland?!?  But I don’t even like Scotland! Or kilts.  Or castles.  Or bagpipes.   Scotland?!?

 

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Before I knew what had even happened, that all changed and I suddenly loved Scotland, kilts (who knew they were so sexy?), castles, and bagpipes.  You will too, I promise.  Yes, you will!!!

 

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The story is about a married, English nurse, who after the end of WWII, goes on a second honeymoon in Scotland where unexpectedly she falls back in time – to two hundred years earlier.  A modern day feminist, Claire winds up in the 18th century, kidnapped by a gang of dirty, stinky, and wild Highlanders, who drag her off to their cold, forbidding castle.  Hmmm.  That sounds just wonderful!  Not!

 

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Except, the dirty stinky Highlander looks like this!   Oh.  This changes things.   Outlander is addictive.   Diana Gabaldon is such a fine writer - a natural storyteller with a penchant for history.  She can make a trip to an outhouse interesting.  And she does, trust me. 

 

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The production company which brings the book alive has spared no expense.  The sets are beautiful and the cinematography rivals the best Hollywood movie.  Scotland, with its hills and green forests and wide valleys, is without a doubt, gorgeous.  No wonder the British Royal Family continues to spend their summers at Balmoral, in the Highlands:

 

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The Royal Estate – Balmoral on the River Dee in the Highlands of Scotland near Edinburgh

 

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This map shows all the locations of the Outlander series – the entire First Season was filmed within the borders of Scotland, save a few days at a castle in England.   The company hired mostly Scottish tradespeople to work on the series.   Outlander has been a huge financial boom to Scotland. 

 

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The star, Sam Heughan (on the left,) who plays the lead James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser or Jamie for short, is himself from a tiny town in Scotland, located on the grounds of a ruined castle.  The female lead, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, is played by the Irish native – Caitriona Balfe.  Such names, I know!!!  It’s pronounced Katrina.  And on the right – Tobias Menzies plays two roles:  her 20th century husband Frank and his 18th century ancestor Black Jack Randall.   

It’s the sweetest love story of a woman stuck in time two hundred years before she was born -  in love with two men, her staid researcher husband, Frank and the handsome, red haired, wild Highlander, Jamie. 

 

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But, the star of the show, for me, are the sets.   The Set Decoration is by Gina Cromwell who spent several seasons working on Downton Abbey, creating their believable interiors.  Cromwell has done the same thing for Outlander, recreating first the 1940s and then the 18th century.    Most of the exteriors were shot at castles and estates that dot the verdant landscape. 

Interiors were mostly built on two huge soundstages near Glasgow at Cumbernauld.  Outlander took over an unused factory to build the 17,000 and 10,000 sq ft soundstages.   Next season when the setting moves to Paris, the French city and Versailles will be recreated in Scotland and also in Prague.

When movies have beautiful sets filled with antiques that would look good in a design magazine – I like to go behind the scenes and figure out where it was filmed, whether it is a set or a location.   And when the country becomes a star – as Scotland is here, it makes it all the more interesting.

I’m not the only one obsessed with the film locations.  There are now many travel companies that offer Outlander Tours, taking tourists from one location to another, crisscrossing the country just as the movie production did. 

To make it easier to read, I’ve broken up this story into three parts. 

(note:  if you do watch the series, be sure to watch with the “Captions” turned on.  Their Scottish accents can be very difficult to understand sometimes)

Enjoy!!!

 

 

The movie opens in 1943 when Army Nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to Inverness for a second honeymoon with her soldier husband Frank – after a five year separation due to WWII. 

 

MRS. BAIRD’S BED & BREAKFAST:

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The tiny town of Falkland takes the place of Inverness.  Their vintage convertible is to die for!

 

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  Here you can see Claire and Frank walking up to the B&B.  The producers painted the columns and windows orange and black.   They added the garage doors at the left to hide the restaurant.   This is actually the Covenanter Hotel.  At the next block is the store where Claire shops.  The production also painted the house at the corner – brown.

 

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REALITY:  And the same hotel as seen on Google Maps.  You can see the hotel had white trim, not orange.  And the house to the right was white, not brown.   Also, the hills behind the town don’t look quite so green – but that could be the season.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  At the corner is this charming shop where Claire stops to window shop. 

 

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REALITY:  Actually the charming shop is a rather plain Chinese Restaurant (in Scotland?!?!)  The crew put up a false window with transom, new signs, painted the doors green  - totally transforming it.

 

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And here is Claire, at that shop window, looking at the blue vase inside.

 

INTERIORS OF THE B&B AND REVEREND WAKEFIELD’S PRIORY:

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REALITY:  This gets tricky.   Two different sets were filmed in one large house.   All the 1943 interiors of BOTH the Bed & Breakfast AND the interiors of Reverend Wakefield’s Priory were filmed inside of  Hunterston House – shown above.  This estate is filled with antiques – but of course the set decorator had to redo each room because it looks like the house hadn’t been decorated in over 200 years. 

Hunterston House is a popular film venue due to its age and size.  The house was built in 1799 for the Scottish Hunter Clan leader – Robert Hunter.   On the property is its original castle, still in use.    The current clan leader actually still lives there!  While many of its interiors were used – the exterior of the house was NOT used in Outlander.

First shown is the guest room at Mrs. Baird’s B&B where Frank and Claire stay.  Here is how the room really looks at Hunterston House:

 

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REALITY:  The master bedroom at Hunterston House stands in for the guest room at the B&B.  The only items in this room that remained in the movie were the wallpaper and the carpet.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  Here, you can see they tidied up the room, added an antique rug over the carpet, brought in chairs, and added antiques on the mantel.

 

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The movie crew brought in new curtains with a charming valance and a new antique bed and lamps.   The producer Ron Moore said they had to shoot around places where the wallpaper was torn or ruined.  The bedspread and décor in the movie is very 1940s English. 

 

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A closeup of the wallpaper and canopy fabric.

 

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The brass footboard is so pretty.  All in all the room is very cozy and very typical of the 1940s.

Besides the B&B, several of the 1940s scenes take place in Reverend Wakefield’s Priory.  Again, all interiors were shot at Hunterston House, but its exterior was probably too grand to be a priory. 

Instead, this house shown below was used as the exterior for the Inverness Priory.  Seems rather grand itself, no?  Isn’t this beautiful?

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  The exterior of Reverend Wakefield’s Priory.  No one knows where this house is actually located.  Several blogs and set sleuths have tried to find it, to no avail.  Do you know where this house is located?

 

REVEREND WAKEFIELD’S PRIORY – INTERIORS:

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REALITY:   The paneled drawing room at Hunterston House as it really is – in need of an update and general editing, but what do you expect after one family has lived here for over 200 years!!   This room stands in for Reverend Wakefield’s drawing room.   Most all the furniture and accessories were removed for the movie set.   This oak paneling is also the paneling chosen for the interiors at the Outlander Castle set.   

 

 

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REALITY:  closeup of the fireplace in the drawing room.  The set decorator removed everything here, including the firescreen and andirons.  They left the curtains, but added sheers at the windows and removed the white roll up shades.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  Hunterston House is filled to the rafters with antiques and knick-knacks – but most were not used for the movie.  Instead, the production team brought in leather sofas, leather wing chairs, new Oriental rugs and a large desk.  Most striking is the addition of the bookcases and books.

 

 

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New shades were put on the chandelier and the sconces.  Love the old radio by the fireplace.

 

 

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Claire sits on the leather wing chair in front of the fireplace.  The set decorator added all new accessories and a new painting on the mantel and new andirons in the fireplace. 

 

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Months after Claire disappears without a trace, Frank returns to Inverness to search for her yet again.  In the drawing room, the Reverend has set up a huge bulletin board with leads pinned to it.  Here you can see the set designers actually added three shelves filled with antique books.

 

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Just $1500 reward for Claire?!  Well, this was 1943. 

 

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The Reverend’s adopted son, Roger MacKenzie Wakefield serves biscuits – when he grows up, Roger plays a very large and important role in the upcoming books.  This room really does look like the study of a researcher.

 

THE PRIORY’S GUEST ROOM:

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REALITY:   The library at Hunterston House becomes the guest room at Reverend Wakefield’s Priory.  Above is how the library really looks.   I would love to decorate this house!  Would you paint all the paneling?   I think I would.  I can imagine how gorgeous Segreto could make this house look.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  The library is located right off the paneled Drawing Room.  Here, Frank comes to spend the night while he searches for his missing wife.

 

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A beautiful antique bed was brought into the room and the mantel was redone with new accessories and a painting.    Aren’t the bookcases gorgeous with their metal screens?

 

 

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At the foot of the bed, the production team added a desk with an antique box and timer on it.  By the fireplace, they added a small bar – for nightcaps.  The production team has to think of every detail that will make a set seem realistic. 

 

THE PRIORY’S KITCHEN:

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REALITY:  The kitchen at Hunterston House (one of two in the house) has white tiled walls and lots of ovens and stoves.  Notice the original stove in pink surrounded by green and yellow tiles.  This room has the biggest changes.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:   The set decorators covered up all the white tile with a botanical type wallpaper in yellow tones.   The rectangular table was replaced by a round one.  It seems that they added an alcove, with period lighting, above the pink stove.  Love the pot stand!!  

What is interesting is after filming this scene, I suppose the wallpaper was removed.   But, months later the crew returned to this house to reshoot this scene – so the wallpaper had to be reinstalled again!  What an expense!

 

 

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Love the old plate rack.

 

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Here is a close up of the botantical style wallpaper.

 

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Another view shows the charming accessories such as all the pitchers added by the crew.  Hard to believe this room is the same kitchen with the white tile.

 

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And a close up of the stove – notice there is a glass covered partitioned shelf above the stove.  Charming. 

 

After the crew finishes filming all the 1940s scenes– most of the interior sets from the 1740s are built on a soundstage.  In doing so, you lose these quirky details you get from a “real house”  – such as a century old range.

Hunterston House is open to the public only one day a year.  But contact them if you are interested in touring the house or castle.  HERE.  The history of the house and the land is incredible – the same clan family has lived here since 1107.    The Hunter clan once lived in the stone castle  on the estate - it was once surrounded by a moat.  In the 1700s, the clan built this house and the servants remained in the castle while the family moved to the new house.

 

1743 SCOTLAND:

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Craigh na dun – the mythical stone formation where Claire passes through time to 1743.

The author, Diana Gabaldon, says she believes in the concept of time travel and says that Stephen Hawking does too.  Hmmm….ok.

 

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Doune Castle – the exterior of “Castle Leoch’'   

Once  Claire passes through the “stones,” she finds herself, to her utter shock, in 1743, in nearby Inverness, where a gang of Highlanders bring her back to the MacKenzie Clan castle – Castle Leoch.  

Exterior scenes of Castle Leoch were filmed at Doune Castle, a 14th century castle which is a very popular Scottish tourist site.  The castle is too fragile to be used for the interior sets, so those were built on soundstages.  But its 100’ high gatehouse and courtyard are the scenes of much exterior action.

 

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The Production Team’s drawing of the Castle Leoch set – it ended up looking just like this.

 

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The sign that was posted at Doune Castle while Outlander was being filmed there.

 

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In 1943, Claire and her husband go to visit the ruins of Castle Leoch.   When she ends up living there, in 1743, she is familiar with it from her previous visit.

   

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Claire, outside of Castle Leoch – in 1743. 

 

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And here is the Castle dressed for 1743.  Jamie’s two uncles run the castle.  One uncle Colum MacKenzie is the Laird of  Castle Leoch or the Lord, in Gaelic. 

 

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REALITY:  Here is how the courtyard really looks – covered in lush green grass.

 

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  And how the same courtyard looked with outbuildings added and a floor of straw and mud instead of grass.  The 18th century was a dirty, smelly place, where raw sewage was thrown out windows.   Outlander author Diana Galbadon goes into great detail about the smells and nastiness of life in the 18t century.  Yeech!    

 

 

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The iron rails on the courtyard staircase were covered with rope to make them look more authentic.

 

 

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Notice the spiral stairwell seen here.    The only scene filmed inside the castle was inside this spiral staircase.

 

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Claire navigates the steep spiral stairs inside Doune Castle – the only time the crew shot inside the castle.

 

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The actual model of the Great Hall was on display at the Outlander Red Carpet Premiere.  Jamie and Claire’s  wedding costumes were also on display.

 

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REALITY:  The Great Hall in Castle Doune.   This was used a model for the Great Hall of Castle Leoch. Hard to imagine that this once was where an entire clan of people lived, ate and slept.

 

 

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OUTLANDER SET:   The Great Hall is a large two story set that was built on the soundstage near Glasgow.    Several other interior room sets were built on the second floor of the Great Hall under its rafters.    Pictured above is the grand entrance to the Great Hall.  Behind the antique console is a floor to ceiling tapestry.   Tapestries were once used to warm the cold stone walls of castles.  

The costume designer Terry Dresbach and her husband, Outlander producer Ron Moore, live in their own centuries old castle near Glasgow.  Terry said it takes two weeks in the winter for their stone walls to warm up after the heaters are first turned on.  Two weeks time where she says it is cold enough to get frostbite unless you have a raging fire burning.  Can’t imagine that! 

 

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And here Claire enters the Great Hall for the first time.     You can ascertain the scale of the set by how dwarfed the 6’ tall actress looks against the doors.

 

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And looking at the Great Hall from the steps of the front door.   There are five working fireplaces in the hall and all the light fixtures use candles, not electricity.   Ron Moore said the set was a fire hazard with all the blazing flames.  You can see how large the fireplaces are – they are actually inglenooks – tall enough to stand in.

 

 

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A close up view of the main back fireplace – where the Laird’s throne is.  For meals, a long table is set here in front of the stone mantel.

The wood paneling in the Great Hall was flamed torched, then brushed so that it looks 200 years old.   Everything is made of either stone or wood.   Molds of the stones in Castle Doune were made so that they could be replicated in the “faux” Castle Leoch.

 

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The view from the second floor landing that looks over the Great Hall.

 

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When the flamboyant Duke of Sandringham visits, the cooks make a Peacock-topped pate.  Look at the flagstone floor – so beautiful.   And, notice the huge Irish wolfhound – or it might be a Scottish deerhound.

 

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The Duke prepares to cut into the Peacock topped pate.  All the food is edible – carefully prepared exactly as it would have been two hundred years ago.

 

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Dinner.  The tables resemble Dutch oil paintings, they are so beautiful.

 

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Claire at her first dinner with the Highlanders.

 

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A bird- topped casserole.  All the glassware is authentic for the Georgian period – which is a huge surprise.  No pewter?  These beautiful glasses were designed especially for Outlander by Georgian Glassmakers and can be ordered on their website HERE.  The glasses make quite an appearance at all the meals, especially on the wedding night.

 

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Here is an actual antique glass from this time period.    This style is a bit more fancy than the glassware chosen by the set decorators for Castle Leoch.

 

Choice of Furniture Design:

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An authentic antique Jacobean chair, above.   Doesn’t this look almost exactly as the Laird’s throne chair?    But why a Jacobean chair?

  While Outlander is set in 1743 – most of the furniture at Castle Leoch seems to be Jacobean, which is characterized as heavy, massive and made of oak.  The Jacobean Era was from 1603 to 1625 – more than 100 years prior to the time period of the movie.  So, why did the Set Decorators choose Jacobean furniture? 

I suppose it was for several reasons.  Although the Jacobean Era time period of 1603-1625 coincides strictly with King James I’s reign – the furniture style remained popular for much longer - historians actually extend that time line through the entire 17th century.   After the Jacobean Era came several other styles including the fancier William and Mary which marked a change to walnut, veneer, marquetry and rattan detailing.  This was followed by Georgian – the beautiful furniture known as Adam, Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Sheraton. 

Perhaps the political climate of the times resulted in the choice of Jacobean furniture.  The entire castle structure - clans living together with a Laird ruling over them – was coming to a end during the Outlander time.  After the Jacobite Rebellion and the massacre of the clans at Culloden – communal living at the castles was over.   This was a period of a total upheaval of life as they knew it in Scotland.  Many clan members who survived chose to immigrate to the colonies.  

Finally, the most simple reason for the Jacobean furniture is there were no funds for a massive redecoration of a castle.  If the castle was built when Jacobean furniture was in style, then that was how it remained.   And - from a design standpoint, I’m not sure Georgian or Adam style furniture would look as good in Castle Leoch as Jacobean. 

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These are a set of museum quality William and Mary chairs from 1689-1702.   This style is noted for its use of rattan, walnut – not oak, barley twists, lacquer and Oriental detailing.  Some of the furniture in Outlander is William & Mary – or, more likely, 19th century reproductions.

 

THE KITCHEN:

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REALITY:  Here is the kitchen at Doune Castle.  The faux Castle Leoch kitchen, built on the soundstage, was modeled directly from this kitchen – with its prominent arches dividing the room into two distinct areas.  The kitchens of this time were often divided into different sections – including the pantry, the buttery and the larder.

 

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  Here’s a view of the kitchen built on the soundstage.  This photograph reminds me of a Vermeer painting.  Note how closely it resembles the kitchen in Doune Castle.

 

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The larder is to the right with the hanging meat and birds.

 

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Large leaded glass windows light the back part of the kitchen which is probably the pantry.

 

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The large walk in fireplace in the kitchen where Claire patches up Jamie’s wounds.

 

 

THE SURGERY/APOTHECARY:

 

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The production team’s drawing for the Surgery/Apothecary.

When the Laird discovers that Claire is a “healer” – the 18th century word for nurse – they give her the surgery, a dark room in the Castle where their former healer worked.  Claire uses herbs and flowers to make medicine.   In fact, the Outlander books are filled with homeopathic remedies for almost every ailment.   In order for the script to be accurate about these remedies, a full-time herbalist, who specializes in the medicine and herbalogy of the time, was hired by the production team.

 

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Here Frank and Claire visit the ruins of the Surgery in 1943.  When she ends up back in the same room in 1743, she remembers being there with Frank just a few days before.

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Claire is excited to be given the apothecary – and she immediately begins to clean it out and create medicine from herbs and flowers gathered on the castle grounds.

 

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The Surgery is a dark room deep in the castle, with two small leaded windows for light.  Here she stitches up a wound on Jamie.   Had Jamie not had so many wounds that Claire needed to nurse, the two might never have fallen in love!

 

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The set includes stone arches, a stone spiral staircase, and a large walk in fireplace.

 

The Surgery was modeled after an Undercroft.   The Undercroft was found in many castles – in the basement.   Most often it was made of stone and arches with a groined ceiling.  Here is a picture of a typical undercroft:

 

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This Undercroft does look remarkably like the Claire’s Surgery in Outlander.  In fact, there is even a stone staircase that leads down to the Surgery making it seem as if it is in the basement. 

 

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Another unique feature is the large apothecary cabinet, seen here in the alcove.

 

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Here is closer view of the amazing apothecary cabinet.

 

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The Apothecary Cabinet filled with bottles and herbs.  I don’t know whether this is an antique or a reproduction – regardless, it’s amazing how much detail was put into it and then it was on screen for a total of only a few minutes.

 

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On the Starz Outlander web site – there is an interactive Apothecary cabinet – where you can find definitions and uses of common herbs, flowers and bark.  Here, for instance, the bark of the white willow was used as Advil is.   HERE.

 

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An actual 18th Century Scottish Herbal - from the archive of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.   Claire is seen reading books like this to learn about 18th century medicine.

 

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Now, this amazing piece IS a reproduction.  It’s a museum replica of an authentic 18th century apothecary kit – a precursor to a doctor’s bag.  Claire finds this in her surgery and is thrilled with it.

 

  

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The inside of the kit – filled with small bottles.  There is a hidden drawer, also filled with bottles.  The diagram of the human body is interesting.  It’s hard to believe this actual kit was created just for the series, but it was – by Whetton and Grosch, who make museum quality models, props and faux food, animals, etc.  Anything you can imagine – they can recreate.  Visit their web site for more images HERE.

 

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Another prop Whetton and Grosch created for the show is this piece of amber with a fozzilized dragonfly inside.  “Dragonfly In Amber” is the name of the 2nd Outlander book.

 

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And here, the professional beggar Hugh Monro gifts the piece of amber to Claire as a wedding present.  Costume Designer Terry Dresbach says that Hugh’s costume was her favorite to design.  She searched EBay for authentic “beggar” medals which the government issued, allowing Highlanders to legally beg for money.

 

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A close up of Hugh Monro’s collection of beggar medals.

 

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Claire becomes a surgeon in the later books fueled by her love of medicine from when she was a healer/nurse in Scotland.  Diana Gabaldon obviously has a fascination for this type of medicine and her books are filled with tales of early medicinal practices.  This book shown above, “The Apothecary,” looks interesting!

You can special order it from Amazon HERE.

 

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REALITY:  There is one person whose own history greatly resembles Jamie’s and Claire’s combined fictional ones.   This apothecary (now a museum) in colonial Fredericksburg, Virginia, was owned by Hugh Mercer.  Mercer was a Highlander who actually fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie and was a surgeon in the field.  He was one of the few survivors of Culloden – the massacre of the Jacobite Scots that marked the end of the clans in Scotland forever.  After Culloden, Mercer, a fugitive, came out of hiding to steal away to America where he befriended one George Washington.  He served in several wars for the Colonies and died a war hero.  One of his direct descendants is, amazingly, General George Patton.   I wouldn’t be surprised if Diana Gabaldon didn’t use some of Mercer’s history in her own books. 

 

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Here is a glimpse of some of Diana Gabaldon’s research books for her novels.

 

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This is just a small section of her books on herbs and plants used for medicine, with several on Indian herbalogy, which is important to her later Outlander books.  What this woman knows!   Genius!!!  I can’t even imagine what her IQ must be.    Read her bio HERE.

 

CLAIRE’S BEDROOM:

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The production team’s model of Claire’s Room.  Her room doubled as another interior – the Laird’s Library. 

 

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And here is the room under construction.

 

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REALITY:  This is a bedroom that looks almost identical to Claire’s bedroom set , down to even the bed warmer next to the fireplace.   I wonder if the set decorators used this very picture as a guide?

 

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REALITY:  Another Scottish bedroom that looks very much like the set.   Filled with Jacobean furniture – the oak paneling blends into the oak furniture.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  And here is the set of Claire’s bedroom.  The room is paneled in oak in the same style that the Hunterston House was.    Beautiful antique chair with tapestry used for fabric.

 

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The room is dominated by a tall carved wood canopy bed, hung with green wool fabric.  A light rug covers the floor.   Across from the bed is a stone fireplace.  The many leaded glass windows are covered with a sheer fabric.

 

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A skirted table acts as a vanity with an antique mirror.  Hanging next to the fireplace is a brass bed warmer.

 

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Jamie and Claire by the skirted table.

 

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The table by the window is used for eating and writing.  Underneath is an English antique wood table:

 

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Here is the table.  To the right is a leather hand tooled screen.  This is Claire’s first day at the Castle Leoch and you can see how they made the room look like an empty guest suite.  Later, the room gets more cozier – accessorized with flowers and tablecloths.

 

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Here is a closeup of the leather screen seen in the full length mirror when Miss Fitz outfits Claire in her first 18th century dress.  Hmmm – where there really full length dressing mirrors in the 18th century?   The earliest I can find are 19th century.

The producer said it took 20 minutes for Caitriona to be clothed in her outfit – with all the corsets and underclothing that needed to be laced  It was impossible for a lady to dress by herself in those days.

 

 

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Another Jacobean room that looks amazingly like Claire’s bedroom.

 

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Pieces of authentic Jacobean furniture. 

 

THE LAIRD’S LIBRARY:

 

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REALITY:  The Laird’s Library is modeled after Tapestry Rooms.  Here is an example of one in Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire.

 

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REALITY:  And another Scottish Tapestry Room filled with William & Mary style furniture.

 

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REALITY:  And this beautiful Scottish Tapestry bedroom filled with antique English furniture.

 

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OUTLANDER SET:  Without a doubt, the prettiest room in Castle Leoch is the Laird’s Library.   Since Colum, the Laird, is handicapped, the room stands in for a life spent within the castle walls. The room is totally covered in tapestries which bring the outdoors inside.  In reality – this room is also Claire’s oak paneled bedroom.  The tapestries are effective in completely transforming one room into another. 

The room is filled with birds in cages and books.  One of the prettiest pieces of furniture is the cabinet seen here with the barley twist legs.  

 

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In this scene, a rug is added to the room, along with an urn and pedestal.   The chair is ‘borrowed’ from Claire’s bedroom set. 

 

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It isn’t clear whether the tapestries were hand painted for Outlander, or if they were woven.  Regardless, they do look very authentic.

 

 

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And a larger view – of the fireplace with the two chairs flanking it.  Here you can see the fireplace is the same as Claire’s – since of course, it’s the same exact room!

On the producer Ron Moore’s podcast, his wife, costume designer Terry Dresbach, was horrified when he revealed that Claire’s bedroom and the Laird’s Library were actually the same room.  She felt he should have left that information out – and kept silent about the mystery of movie making. 

Looking at the sets, I do think there are other sets that are doubled.  For instance, the Surgery looks very much like the Tavern set.  And Geillis’ room looks very much like the Honeymoon bedroom.

 

 

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The views on this side of the Laird’s room are hard to see because of the glare.  You can see that the three smaller windows in Claire’s bedroom are covered up the tapestries.  And, this is a different carpet than the other, which is much prettier than this one.  The Laird’s desk is actually covered by a skirt. 

 

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Here is another view of the other side of the Laird’s Library.  The skirted desk is on the left.  Claire has been called in to massage the Laird’s injured back!  She is quite the busy “healer.”    I love how the wire bird cages look against the tapestries.

 

That’s all the sets for today.    This is the last of the Castle Leoch’s sets.  Next we go to the strange Geillis’ house, with its beautiful boat-like study.  We also visit an estate filled with French furniture and Black Jack Randall’s quarters.  Plus, there is the wedding and the charming estate Lollybroch!

Have I enticed you to read the Outlander books, or at least watch the Starz series?   You can see all the first Season episodes on On Demand now.  There are just two more episodes left and filming has started for Season Two – Outlander Book II.   Season Two will be seen in 2016.  Have will we ever survive such a long Droughtlander?

 

Despite all the beautiful sets, the fantastic Scottish landscapes, Outlander is still, underneath all the historical accuracy – a love story between two men and a woman.

 

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Here are the two leads in real life – Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser and Tobias Menzies who plays both Frank Randall AND Black Jack Randall.

 

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So, if you were Claire – would you try to get back to 1943 to be with your husband Frank, the boring researcher?

 

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Or would you stay in 1743 with your dashing Highlander, Jamie? 

Hmmmm.   Well, let’s see.  If I could have my computer and Diet Coke, I might consider staying in 1743.   Wait.  That wouldn’t work.   Can’t I just have Jamie come to the 20th century instead?

 

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It’s such a great story!!!!  Try it!!!

To purchase the first book in the series, click below:

 

My partner, Linda Merrill of Surroundings, from the Skirted Roundtable, is doing a weekly story on Outlander.  I’ve tried not to read hers until I am through so as not to “cheat” – but I did peek at a few and they look wonderful.  Read her updates HERE.

42 comments :

  1. Thanks for the shoutout Joni! Of course, you've totally outdone me with such depth of detail. It IS a rabbit hole of detail - this show and the books. The sets are really fantastic, as you've shared, so full of detail. The next season should be really spectacular. Can't wait to read your next posts!

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  2. My husband is of Scottish ancestry going back many centuries so I find this all very interesting. My grown son looks like he should be wearing a kilt! I have heard of Outlander - never gave it a second thought. Now, I'm intrigued. Once again I have learned something new here - outstanding post, Joni -Thank you!

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  3. Well…if I ever had a doubt that I loved everything about you this just totally confirmed that I should have NO doubts whatsoever! Not only is my only daughter moving right into your neck of the woods in a mere three weeks…( The Heights) …but now you are blogging about the only tv show I've ever obsessed about! And I can't relax at all because we can't buy any more of the series yet…there is nothing that has ever compared to this show…and YES…I was and am a HUGE twilight fan! Can't wait to meet you one day! Guess I will have to read the books as well! As usual, you outdid yourself on this post! I still remember the one time you liked a post I did and guess what…it involved a New Orleans designer…Ann Holden. Maybe next time I can impress you with a Houston designer! LOL! We shall see? No matter….loved this post! And thank you again for your past compliment. I definitely will be calling you for advice for my children!

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  4. call me! 713 8989312 - you have to read the books - omg. Book 3 killed me. i cried through the entire thing. ben thought i was insane!

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  5. Great work Joni! I am one of those who have been waiting over 20 years for these books to become a series. So far I have been rather pleased that it has been following the literary storyline fairly well. I was given the first book right before my husband and I left Greece to drive to our new home in Germany. As we were driving through Tuscany my nose was in the book. My husband couldn't believe it. He got a bit testy. That night at the hotel I told him "Read the 1st chapter. If you can put it down after that then I promise I will pay attention to the countryside." Needless to say he stayed up late that night and we fought over the book the remainder of the trip. :) I also follow Terry Dresbach's blog as her posts on the costume design is just amazing. What attention to detail! http://www.terrydresbach.com/

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  6. i love her blog - i've been begging her to let me show her house she hasn't given me an answer . Ben hasn't read the books but he makes me tell him what happens in the book!!!!

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  7. My first European historic garden study tour, 2+ decades ago, Scotland. Why? Then, they had the most head gardeners placed in jobs across Europe. It did not disappoint.

    Had zero clue about this show/books. I do now, and look forward to watching. Binge watching !

    Had to laugh at one of the gardens. Typical historic landscape, with what remains after money is gone: house, meadow/woodland, stone focal point. A good lesson in what a garden should begin with.

    More, it's maximum pollinator habitat, high density/low density.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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    1. Congratulations, Joni! I was salivating wanting to send this to Tara! I went on an amazing tour (decorating; but you cannot miss the gardens!!) of Scotland about 8 years ago or something! And everything that Tara knows; and I apparently did (NOT knowing) is what is in Scotland!

      It is my favorite country. I adore Italy. I love Portugal....but Scotland must be in my DNA. I had goosebumps everywhere we went. And one place was that castle in the beginning !

      Yikes!

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  8. Joni I started reading these fascinating books after reading Linda's first post on Outlander!
    The tapestries, costumes and story of life in that era are astonishing!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  9. A good friend (another Twilight lover) told me I would enjoy these books ages ago. Hesitated because I knew I would have to read them all! Well - I'm not getting any younger so I guess I better get started on the first one. Did a family trip to Scotland last June because my granddaughters wanted to see Loch Ness (would you believe because of Scooby Doo and the Loch Ness monster movie) - we didn't see Nessie but explored one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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  10. Thanks for this Joni! I've just finished book 7. When I started the books last year, I had no idea they were doing a TV show, and just learned about it in the last month or so. I was nervous it wouldn't do justice to the books, but, happily, it looks to be high quality. We don't have Starz, so I have to (impatiently) wait until the series comes out on Blu Ray. It will, right?

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  11. Well Joni, I've never been a Twilight fan but this post was so good, you've convinced me to start watching this series! I love Downton Abbey too (you better watch that!) but I have no good shows right now so it's perfect timing. Great post with such great research. Can't wait to start watching this show!

    Thanks!
    Sheila
    www.maisondecinq.blogspot.com

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  12. I was an Outlander fan long before I was a Twilight fan... Jamie is my fictional dreamy man! I started reading Outlander in the early 2000s and had been hoping for a movie for years and years... and then was overjoyed to find out that instead we were being granted with a whole tv series! Loved this post!!

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  13. This is so great! I was just in Tampa and watched the last episode with my girl friend...and wanted to watch all the other to catch up...now I REALLY want to binge!

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  14. You're making me want to watch the series.

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  15. Joni, I am delighted that you have grown up and left teen romance "Twilight" behind and discovered Outlander! I have been obsessed with Diana Gabladon's books for the last 20 years and am thrilled with the new Starz series. I made my hubby take me to Scotland in 1997 for our own private Outlander tour! Diana is an amazing writer and Ron Moore has done justice to her story. His wife, Terri Dresbach was an Outlander fan and talked him into bringing it to the screen. Her costumes, the amazing sets, awesome scenering Scotland and of course the wonderful actors are bringing my favorite books to life!
    Sarah K

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    1. That should read "awesome scenery in Scotland"
      Sarah K

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    2. i am just sorry I waited to so long!!!! I am so in love wth Diana right now. She is a genius.

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  16. Wow! What a great feature on Outlander. I look forward to your future posts. I read the first couple of books when they came out in the 90's, and thought the history was interesting but they were a little more into the bodice-ripping genre than I particularly like, so I never read the rest. I may have to revisit them. I did hear about the TV series, but didn't subscribe to that channel, and they weren't on Netflix. Finally, they're available so I have it in my queue now. I'm really impressed with the authenticity you relate here to their replicating the period settings and costumes. I have listened to an interview with Diana Gabaldon and she did meticulous research from original sources. Indeed, she must be brilliant, and, by all accounts, is a very nice person as well. I recently met her friend and fellow author Susanna Kearsley, who also writes about the Jacobites in dual time frame books (though hers are a generation before Jamie). I recommend her books as well, and there's a recent video from a book signing of Diana Gabaldon talking with Susanna Kearsley about her new book and about their methods of writing and research which I found very interesting. I'm glad that Outlander has been so brilliantly realized on screen, and I can't wait to pour over those settings and costumes. I think it would be a dream job to hunt down the period appropriate furnishings and accoutrements of daily life for this type of period film. But please don't think any more about painting original centuries old paneling. It might look appropriate in France or Belgium - but not Scotland! All of this has me thinking more about our own Scottish family history, and we're actually going to a clan reunion in September in the foothills of North Carolina. My younger son even has the dark strawberry blonde hair and red beard, but he's never worn a kilt! I would love to go to Scotland and I know watching this series will only increase my yearning. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. OMG!!!!!!!!!! you do know SPOILER ALERT: that in the later books Jamie and Claire end up in N Carolina where they start a settlement in the mountains? omg!!! you do to the clan reunions there? I read this story about the highlanders - their accomplishments in the world and it's incredible. I will say, the series gets sexy, very much so, a few times. But there is so much more to it than that. But it's a part of it - more in the beginning than later.

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    2. Yeah, we live in the NC mountains and there are lots of Scottish descendants here. Many are "Scotch-Irish" who emigrated from Scotland to Ireland and then to America.

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  17. Oh, friend. I am LATER to the party than you. JUST finished Book #1…and it got better & better. About 1/2 way through, I could not wait to dig in!!!! We just watched episode 1 and 2 so are far, far behind in the TV series. But, I've downloaded Book #2 and cannot wait. The actress is on IG. I tagged you….take a look-see. She returned a comment to me; so it's quite personal. I vote for Jamie!

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    1. Virginia: wait until you read book #3 - I cried throughout it the entire way. sobbed. snot sobbed. just wait!

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  18. Good grief Joni your investigative skills are unmatched! Love it! Ok, I guess it's just me, I didn't even know about Outlander... thanks for the catch up post! And of course all the detail shots of the interiors! Happy Tuesday! Rié

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  19. Love, love, love Outlanders for so many reasons! Wonderful photo essay here.

    best,
    teaorwine


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  20. You know, what is sad, though, is that Diana Gabaldon does not allow anyone to write fanfiction based on her books. She's well-known for this and has requested that no one write it. Therefore, no major fanfiction sites will host it. I think that fanfiction is a serious form of flattery, and it promotes an authors' characters and work. If I were a writer, I would LOVE to see my characters used in fanfiction! Anyway, that little fact has turned me off from ever reading the Outlander novels, though I may give this series a try.

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    1. i know!!! neither does Anne Rice. well - it's sad. but, after what happened with Twilight and 50 shades of gray, haha! it would be crazy if there was fan fiction because there are so many books to read first that diana wrote but, it is a shame.

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    2. Huh? What happened to Twilight and 50 shades of gray? I just don't know!!!

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  21. I read Book 1 years ago; I found it ok, but not compelling enough to make me continue on with the rest. My daughter read them all, however. I LOVE Scotland, and I appreciated the scenery in the first handful of the series' episodes, but again, it just didn't hold my interest so I've stop watching. Nevertheless, I enjoyed your post, and I adore anything tartan :) My current series obsession is a Spanish series called Velvet (available on Netflix with subtitles). It all takes place in Spain in the late 50's with the main location being a family-owned high fashion house. The son of the wealthy store owner falls in love with one of the seamstresses and it goes from there! The 50's music is phenomenal, the clothes and sets to die for, it's funny and sweet, and my daughter and I are already planning a visit to Spain next year!

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    1. that sounds so interesting. wow!!! i will have to look it up.

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  22. Well you have certainly outdone yourself my friend! Fabulous post!!!

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  23. you can watch it online for free!!! i think? if you have cable services - go to ondemand or go to th starz web site. i don't think you have to subscribe to starz to watch it. i might be wrong tho? worth a try.

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  24. Well, thanks! Now I have a new obsession! I didn't know we had Starz on our cable but was thrilled to find out last night that we did. Watched the first episode and it was really fun knowing the background on the sets. Thanks for ALL THAT INFORMATION! You are so thorough! The Outlander sets are amazing. This & House of Cards....our summer tv is set! Plus someone at work recommended the BBC Sherlock series.

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  25. Scotland is a gorgeous country; it has a rich and beautiful and quite tragic history ! I love attention called to it!
    My eldest granddaughter may be attending St Andrews for college next year (from Montecito. California) so I will visit often if she ends up there!!!

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  26. Thank you very much for spreading information in such wonderful manner. I am definitely sharing this with my friends and family.
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  27. My husband and I both loved the first part of the "Outlander" TV series, but the beginning of the second part that started back in April, has been almost what I would call soft porn. I lost interest after Jamie beat Claire. Is that in the book as well? If it gets better, I might give it a try again. Tell me if you think it gets better. I love the setting though. It's so beautiful, and you did a fantastic job with all the photos. The costumes are gorgeous, too. Another series you all might like for the summer is "Turn". And there's also a great Spanish series on Netflix called "Grand Hotel" that I guarantee you'll be binge watching.

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    1. Hi, Anonymous! I watched Gran Hotel, too - what gorgeous sets and costumes, and the main couple are so gorgoeus and sweet together. Quite campy, though, in a fun way :) Try Velvet, another series from Spain I mentioned in my comment above. Alicia and Laura from Gran Hotel are in it, too!

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    2. Thank you for the information about Grand Hotel. We started watching it and are really enjoying it too.

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