The History Behind Outlander, Scotland’s Hit TV Show

Based on a series of eight novels by Diana Gabaldon which have sold 25 million copies worldwide, Outlander is the hit TV show that is filmed entirely in Scotland and based on Scottish history. 

Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married English combat nurse from 1945 who, while on her second honeymoon in Inverness, is mysteriously swept back in time to the 18th‐century Scottish Highlands. There she meets Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous young warrior, with whom she becomes romantically entwined.

Although the storyline is a fantasy, the history which inspired it certainly isn’t. So, if you aren’t too familiar with Scottish history, we’ve outlined a brief explanation of some of the events that shaped Scotland and inspired Outlander. If you haven’t yet seen Outlander, this might contain some spoilers! 

Claire and Jamie from TV show Outlander

The Jacobites 

Outlander begins during the time of the ‘Jacobite Risings’, a series of real battles that took place in Britain and Ireland between 1688 and 1746. In Latin, Jacobite means ‘supporter of James’, therefore the Jacobites was a group of Scottish people who supported James VII of Scotland (James II of England). The uprisings aimed to return King James, the last Roman Catholic monarch, to the throne of Britain, having been overturned by his Protestant son-in-law in 1688. In Outlander, the character Jamie Fraser is a soldier and Scottish landowner with Jacobite sympathies. 

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Prince Charles Edward Stuart is a real-life figure who appears as a character in Outlander, also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James VII. Having been raised in exile in Rome, Charles strongly believed in his family’s right to the throne and therefore planned an invasion of England to apprehend it. Prince Charles landed in Scotland in 1745 where he gained support from the Jacobites and led the Jacobite Risings. 

The Battle of Culloden

The tragic Battle of Culloden was fought on the 16th of April 1746, the final confrontation of the Jacobite Risings. An army of 5,000 Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie was outnumbered and defeated by a Government army of 8,000, led by the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden, just east of Inverness. The Battle of Culloden was the last pitched battle on British soil. Following the battle, the British government banned tartan, Gaelic, weapons and bagpiges. Today, headstones mark the graves of thousands of clansmen who fought and lost their lives in that battle. 

Learn more about the history that inspired Outlander and follow in the footsteps of characters from the show. Our Outlander package takes you to various historic locations that are used as filming spots in the TV show, including Urquhart Castle, Culloden Battlefield and Craigh na Dun. 

Contact us today to find out more. 

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