The release of Sam Mendes’ Skyfall in 2012, which stars Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s 007, marked the 23rd outing for the UK’s most conspicuous secret agent. Craig is the fourth Bond to film in Scotland, and while he was seen jetting off to the Bahamas and South America in his first two outings, the character goes back to his Scottish roots in Skyfall.
It’s no accident that Bond’s family estate is located in stunning Glencoe. Ian Fleming was reportedly so impressed by Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond in Dr No, that he gave his famous character some Scottish heritage. In You Only Live Twice Fleming reveals that, as a boy, 007 attended Fettes College - a private school in Edinburgh - whilst the iconic setting for Bond’s family estate in Skyfall comes directly from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - the film in which Bond reveals that his father is originally from Glencoe.
In a driving sequence filmed in the Highlands on the A82 near the striking peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, the secret agent’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 manages to get upstaged by the stunning atmospheric scenery. The Scottish setting continues to play a leading role in the exhilarating events which follow.
Bond locations in Scotland
Another location featured in the Bond movies is Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, located on the eastern shore of Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute. There’s just a fleeting glimpse of Scotland this time, although it’s a key moment in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. It is where Commander Bond (in one of the few occasions he is seen wearing full navy uniform) discovers that the loss of British submarines is no accident, but a sinister plot by the evil Stromberg (Curd Jurgens).
Eilean Donan Castle had an unforgettable cameo in The World is Not Enough (1999), when it served as the Scottish headquarters of MI6. The film’s producers fully embraced the Scottish connection, with Q (Desmond Llewelyn) giving Bond (Pierce Brosnan) a demonstration of bagpipes that double as a machine gun. Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson performed the theme song as the lead singer of Garbage.
In 1963, From Russia With Love saw Bond (Sean Connery) and beautiful Russian agent Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) being pursued by sinister SPECTRE agents in a speed boat in Turkey. Unbeknownst to the vast majority of cinema goers, due to filming difficulties, the final boat chase scene was actually shot on Loch Craignish, near Crinan, Argyll.
Though not featured in the Bond franchise directly, Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull was the home of Fitzroy Hew MacLean - the World War Two hero who is widely believed to have been one of the main inspirations for Bond himself.
Blockbusters filmed in Scotland
It’s not unusual for film locations to depict somewhere entirely different on screen, one of the most recent examples being Glasgow’s appearance as Philadelphia in World War Z, starring Brad Pitt. Find out more about Scotland on the big screen.