"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."
This was not our first visit to Doune Castle. Ian and I had previously been to this castle with my parents and sister, Delaney, while they were here two summers ago. It is, however, one of my favorite sites to visit. If anyone is a fan of Monty Python and the Holy Grail you may recognize this castle from the film. Brilliantly, this castle has taken advantage of this link to Hollywood and they have had Terry Jones narrate the audio tour. Not only does the audio tour incorporate some of our favorite scenes of Monty Python, but it also highlights the long history of this important castle.
Built in the late 14th/early15th century it has been used throughout its life as a royal residence, of the 1st Duke of Albany, a royal summer retreat to hide away in the summers and go hunting, and even a prison during the Jacobite Uprising.
The Lord's Hall
Kitchen Serving Hatches
Scratch Marks in Kitchen
Many of the rooms still survive in rather good condition. The Lord's Hall, the Great Hall and the Kitchen tower and cellars all survive. The kitchen is, to me, the most fascinating of the rooms. I love the two serving hatches that link the kitchen to the hall. It is quite unusual to find something like this in castle of this period and the fact that they both still survive today amazes me. I also love the scratch marks in the stones around the windows. These marks were made by the cooks sharpening their knives on the stones.
Besides the great historical interest I have in this castle, I admit it wasn't the only reason we visited on this cold, rainy February day. About 12 years ago I started reading a series of books that took place in Scotland, Outlander. I guess that's when my love of everything Scottish began, but last year, they began filming the TV series Outlander here in Scotland. I had heard that while production was on break for the holidays, they had left some of their sets up at Doune. I wanted to go snoop around and see what was still there, and I admit, I wasn't disappointed. As soon as you enter the castle, their courtyard sets were still up. They had been roped off so we couldn't nosy around, but I still got to take lots of photos.
All the hype surrounding the filming of this series in Scotland will be great for tourism over here. The day we went to Doune we saw only a family of 3 walking around. I know it was a rainy day but it quite strange to be the only people in such a big castle. I have just read an article saying that they have noticed quite a significant increase in the number of visitors to filming locations of Outlander, such as Doune, especially by American tourists. I think this new interest in historic sites is fantastic and we only have to look at the example of Rosslyn Chapel and the DaVinci Code to see what a benefit an increase in tourists has on a place like this.
Dog-friendly?- Dogs are not allowed within the castle, but there are many paths in the area surrounding the castle that make for perfect dog walking trails. There is a sculpture trail around the castle that they talk about in the audio guide. My only suggestions is to take a pair of wellies with you as the trails can be very muddy, especially in the winter months.