Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scotland: Outlander's Grip Is One Reason To See For Yourself

When the company I worked for closed in 2005, we were permitted to take what we wanted from the book exchange in the kitchens. I snagged a historical fiction novel called Dragon Fly in Amber. It was the kind of book you can't put down. I didn't know when I read it, but it was the second book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I've read this series several times over.  I rarely read a book twice nevermind three or four times.

These novels include, per Ms. Gabaldon's website:

"history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…"

All true. Don't let the time travel throw you. It's not what you might expect. I got many people hooked on these books. And, I am near dropping in anticipation of when Starz brings an adaptation of this series to its network in 2014.

So, what does this have to do with Scotland?

So much!  When I read this series, I knew Scotland would be my next trip. I used the information in the novels to guide my trip plan.

At Culloden Field, employees asked if I was visiting after reading Ms. Gabaldon's novels. So, apparently I was not the first to be enticed enough to come see for myself.  At Culloden, I was indescribably moved by the affect this battle had on certain aspects of Scottish culture at the time (destruction) and what I felt when walking upon the battlefield.  If you go, let me know if you feel it too.

[click on any photo to enlarge]

Government and Jacobite solider

Fought April 16, 1746...
A marker for the dead of this clan on the battlefield

My stay in Edinburgh included walking the Royal Mile and a visit to Holyrood Palace. These sites are also woven into Outlander and entrenched in Scottish history.  I searched shops along the Royal Mile for the perfect souvenir. In the end, I left with nothing because I couldn't pick just one item!  My tour guide for Ghosts and Ghouls was very enthusiastic as you'll see from my photo.  This tour was not part of the Outlander series :)

Made a friend (or enemy...) on the Royal Mile

The grounds of Holyrood and its architecture, even what was in ruins, were quite beautiful, but the museum inside equally held my interest.

I don't want to give away too much more of the Scotland I learned about and just had to see. I covered only a touch of where I went and what I saw in this entry.  But what visit to Scotland, whether in person or by blog, is complete without Loch Ness?  In her series, Ms. Gabaldon shares a view of the monster's origins and an encounter, which I found fascinating. If you're curious and can't wait to get to that part in her novels, contact me for a hint.

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness

This monster is all I saw and it's not even in Loch Ness :(

What historical fiction novel has led you to travel to its setting?


  1. You sold me! I'm going to start planning our trip!!

  2. I've seen the Scottish highlands in various movies, and I've always find myself loving the view. I definitely want to tour Scotland in the near future! As for the place where I've been inspired by a book to travel to, I would have to say St. Petersburg in Russia (because of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace) and Paris, of course, for a number of stories all agrandizing the City of Lights and Romance. Stay safe on your next travel adventure!

    Shaun @