Scotland’s Outlander castles enjoy visitor surge

Doune Castle in Stirlingshire (pictured) has recorded a rise in visitors after starring in Outlander as Castle Leoch. PIC:� 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Doune Castle in Stirlingshire (pictured) has recorded a rise in visitors after starring in Outlander as Castle Leoch. PIC:� 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Scottish castles which feature in hit television series Outlander have enjoyed a “significant surge” in visitors.

Research carried out by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) found that properties used as locations in the historical drama have benefitted from the “Outlander effect” with sites opened up to a “whole new audience.”

Doune Castle as Castle Leoch in Outlander with lead character Claire Randall Fraser, played by Caitriona Balfe. PIC: PIC:� 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Doune Castle as Castle Leoch in Outlander with lead character Claire Randall Fraser, played by Caitriona Balfe. PIC: PIC:� 2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Blackness Castle, near Linlithgow, which doubles as Fort William in the time travelling fantasy, has experienced the biggest rise of HES properties that feature in the show.

READ MORE: 5 Scottish castles that star in Outlander

A 72 per cent increase in visitors was recorded at the property between April 1 and June 25 when compared to the same period last year.

Doune Castle, which stars as Castle Leoch, the fictional seat of Clan MacKenzie, experienced a 50% increase for the same period.

Aberdour Castle, near Burntisland in Fife, doubles as Sainte Anne de Beaupré’s monastery. The property, where lead character Jamie Fraser is taken to recover from a particularly brutal incarceration, recorded a 58 per cent rise in visitor numbers.

And Linlithgow Palace, which was transformed into Wentworth Prison in the show, a 43 per cent increase was noted.

Meanwhile, at Glasgow Cathedral, which was the location for L’Hôpital des Anges, where lead character Claire Fraser was treated in season two, a 39 per cent rise in visitors was recorded.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, which manages 300 Historic Scotland visitor attractions, said: “I’m delighted to welcome this boost in visitor numbers as we continue to celebrate the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“This is an excellent return on the investment we have made across our estate. At Doune Castle, for example, after upgrading the visitor and retail offering, we have seen retail income increase 62% for the year to date.

“Featuring in Outlander has opened up our sites to a whole new audience, inspiring more and more visitors to come and discover the history behind these places, further demonstrating the enduring value and significance of heritage attractions in Scotland.”

Outlander is now screening for the first time on British television with More4 broadcasting the show.

It was previously only available on streaming service Amazon Prime.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said she looked forward to the effect the current broadcast had on visitor numbers.

She said: “The TV drama showcases Scotland to international audiences and has helped strengthen the growth we’re seeing in tourism from overseas.

I’m delighted Scottish and UK audiences will now be able to watch Outlander on terrestrial TV, and look forward to seeing the impact on visitor numbers to the heritage sites that provide the stunning backdrop to the series.”