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Scotland in the movies

Five Scottish landmarks that feature in famous films

Scotland is a beautiful, austere and dramatic country, with some of the most mountainous terrain in the United Kingdom. As such, the landscapes of Scotland have featured in a number of films. In many cases, the areas featured are wilderness, and so they’re a little hard to pin down. But in some cases, it’s easy to distinguish specific landmarks. Here are some famous locations which you may recognise from some of your favourite films!

1. Duart Castle

Duart Castle was the seat of the Clan MacLean, and was constructed during the 13th century. It is situated at the eastern tip of the Isle of Mull, where it faces the town of Oban on the mainland across the Firth of Lorn. This stronghold has been featured in three different films: I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), a romantic comedy starring Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey; When Eight Bells Toll (1971) with Anthony Hopkins in one of his earliest starring roles; and Entrapment (1999) starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. What’s notably cool about Entrapment is that Sean Connery has MacLean ancestry, so he was actually acting out his role in his own ancestral house. TV fans may also recognise the castle from the first half of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight.

2. Glen Coe

Glen Coe, Highland

© Gil Cavalcanti Licence information

Glen Coe, the location of the notorious massacre of the Macdonalds by their Campbell guests in 1692, is a designated National Scenic Area 20 miles (32 km) south of Fort William on the A82. It has been featured in numerous different films, including Rob Roy (1995), several of the Harry Potter movies, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), where King Arthur and his knights had to cross the “Bridge of Death” over the “Gorge of Eternal Peril” in their quest for the Grail. Most recently, this area was featured in Skyfall (2012), the latest Bond film.

3. Glen Nevis

This is another famous natural area in Scotland, above Fort William to the south-east, that has been a setting in several films. Filming for Rob Roy, Braveheart (1995), the Harry Potter series and Highlander (1986) took place there.

4. Hermitage Castle

Hermitage Castle is a monolithic, forbidding structure in the Scottish Borders, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Hawick. It is well known for its ominous appearance, and appeared in the 1971 film Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave. The ghost of Mary is said to haunt the castle, which isn’t hard to believe if you take a look at its menacing façade.

5. Rosslyn Chapel

Interior of Rosslyn Chapel

(Public domain)

Rosslyn Chapel, also known as the Collegiate Chapel of St Matthew, is constructed on a small hill rising over Roslin Glen about 7 miles (12 km) south of Edinburgh. The chapel was founded more than 500 years ago by William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness. In the last couple of decades the chapel has been associated with the purported Jesus bloodline. As such it featured prominently in both the book and the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code (2006).

So now you know more about some of the locations in Scotland which have been featured in many popular movies. Not surprisingly, many of the locations which filmmakers flock to are dominated by mountains, lakes, and Scotland’s other beautiful natural features. If you think that you recognise some of these locations time and again in movies, it’s probably because you really do.

Scotland is home to many other historic churches and castles which have likewise played prominent roles in cinema. Next time you see a movie set in Scotland, see which landmarks you can spot!

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