Annandale is a ‘strath’, the Old Scots word for valley, which separates the Moffat and Lowther hills. It is here that Bruce’s forbears, the de Brus family, planted their roots in Scotland, and where Bruce himself was raised - indeed he eventually became 7th Lord of Annandale. Arriving in England with William the Conqueror, the de Brus family was granted this stretch of land in 1123 by King David I. Few traces remain of the Lords of Annandale, but there is still plenty to enjoy. Visit the Annandale Distillery, gaze at the stars in Moffat, the UK’s first Dark Sky Town, or walk the Annandale Way, a long-distance walking route.
Founded on the Angus coast in 1178 by King William the Lion, Arbroath Abbey is most famous for its association with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, a letter to Pope John XXII which asserted Scotland's independence from England. The roots of that link go back to Robert the Bruce making his bid for the Scottish throne after the Pope recognised Edward I’s claim as the rightful ruler in 1305 and ex-communicated The Bruce, following the murder of John Comyn in Dumfries. Dismissing the Pope’s letters that refused to address him as king, Bruce instigated the drafting of the document that was written here. Visit the abbey to explore the origins of the most famous document in Scottish history.
The famous Battle of Bannockburn was one of the most decisive clashes in the First War of Scottish Independence. Robert the Bruce led Scottish forces to battle against the English at Bannockburn over 700 years ago and although vastly outnumbered, Bruce’s men drove King Edward II’s army homewards after two days of fierce and brutal combat. Transport yourself back to 1314 and relieve the battle as it’s brought to life at the 3D immersive experience at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre. Come face to face with fearless medieval warriors and participate in an interactive battle game to try out your own battle tactics and skills.
There are many monuments to Robert the Bruce located across Scotland but Galloway Forest Park is home to one of the most memorable – Bruce’s Stone. After his first decisive victories at the battles of Glentrool and Raploch Moss in 1307, Bruce is said to have rested against this immense granite boulder, savouring his hard-won success. Others believe the boulder is symbolic. The story goes that Bruce and his men were camped at the head of Loch Trool when they discovered the approach of an English patrol. They ambushed their enemy on an isolated rocky crag and rolled boulders down the hill, crushing them.
The Battle of Inverurie, also known as the Battle of Barra, was fought in May 1308 in the north east of Scotland. Though part of the wider Wars of Scottish Independence, it was an episode in a brief but bitter civil war against Comyn, his most notable Scottish adversary. With The Bruce victorious, the battle marked the end of any coordinated opposition to King Robert within Scotland and saw him establish control over the lands north of Perth and Dundee. Explore Inverurie, a prosperous Aberdeenshire town and a good base for touring some of the many castles in the area along Scotland’s Castle Trail.
Loudoun Hill is a volcanic plug in East Ayrshire near the small town of Darvel. Not only does it offer great views from the top, over Ayrshire to the Firth of Clyde and Arran, the hill has also stood witness to a lot of history, from the earliest of times. Among them is the historic Battle of Loudoun Hill that took place in 1307 as part of the Wars of Scottish Independence. It was this victory against the English forces, Robert the Bruce's first that helped his campaign gain momentum. Don't miss the 'Spirit of Scotland' sculpture (actually a tribute to William Wallace), which is located lower down and to the east of Loudoun Hill.
The Battle of Methven was a highly significant defeat for Robert the Bruce at the hands of Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke. The defeat came only three months after he was crowned king at Scone Palace and perhaps highlights The Bruce's inexperience of warfare and an element of naivety in weighing up his opponents. During the battle his army was almost destroyed and he had to flee west, where in turn he met the Clan MacDougall at the Battle of Dalrigh, before fleeing into the Highlands or possibly to the Outer Hebrides. Today, Methven is a small commuter village about 6 miles west of Perth.
The Pass of Brander is a mountain pass in Argyll near Dalmally where Robert the Bruce faced the MacDougalls, who were supporters of the Comyn faction and allied with the English, sometime between 1308 and 1309. This victory was one of the last against the Comyns and their supporters who were successfully beaten by The Bruce's forces leaving the king free to turn his attention towards the English. Visit the area to explore some of Scotland's most beautiful scenery. Nearby on the shores of Loch Awe is Ben Cruachan - sometimes known as the 'hollow mountain', as hidden deep within is Cruachan Power Station, one of the country's most amazing engineering achievements.
Set on the north bank of the River Tweed, Berwick-Upon-Tweed is located in England, but its role in Scotland’s history is significant. Situated at the cusp of the Anglo-Scots border, this small town changed hands between England and Scotland no fewer than 14 times between the 13th and 14th centuries during the Wars of Scottish Independence. As is depicted early in Outlaw King, the limbs of William Wallace were nailed to a post here as a warning to other defiant Scots. Undeterred, Berwick appears once more as the backdrop against which The Bruce initiates his rebellion against Edward I.
Jutting atop a rocky crag into the Firth of Forth, this mighty castle with its long and narrow design has been described as ‘the ship that never sailed’. It owes much of its nautical shape to the many fortifications that were added to it during the 16th century, transforming it into one of the most secure fortresses of its time – part of its south-facing wall measures 5.5 meters in thickness! Now a popular visitor attraction, it boasts a storied history, having served as a garrison, state prison and now, Yorkshire castle in Outlaw King.
Cambuskenneth Abbey was the setting of Robert the Bruce’s parliaments in 1314 after the Battle of Bannockburn. It is here that Scots who had opposed him were stripped of their titles and estates, and where in 1326, the line of royal succession that ultimately saw the Stewart dynasty ascend to the throne in 1371, was decreed. Standing in the shadow of mighty Stirling Castle on the riverbank, among the remains of this 12th-century Augustinian abbey is one of Scotland’s greatest early Gothic bell towers. Admire its beautiful stonework, vaulted ground floor and pointed windows. Images courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland.
This pristine stretch of sand and sparkling bay features as the island of Islay and is the setting of Angus's home village in Outlaw King. Claigan’s beautiful white sands are actually formed of crushed maërl – fossilised and sun-bleached Red Corraline seaweed – and offers stunning views over Camas Ban. Located on the shores of lovely Loch Dunvegan, which is renowned for basking seals, it’s a truly magical place for a relaxing stroll or a swim whilst admiring the amazing scenery. Historic Dunvegan Castle is one of Skye’s most popular historic visitor attractions and is just a short drive south of the beach and well worth a visit.
Lying three miles from the city centre and dating back to the late 14th century, Craigmillar is Edinburgh’s ‘other castle’. In medieval times it stood just a mile outside the old city walls, making it close enough to the city’s bubbling political cauldron, whilst also serving as an ideal rural retreat. It is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland and as a result has been used for a number of film and TV productions. In Outlaw King it features as The Bruce’s castle and village. It's open all year round except 25-26 December and 1-2 January.
Doune Castle is no stranger to the silver screen. This foreboding 14th century fortress has famously featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and more recently, the television adaption of Outlander. Originally built as the home of Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and great-grandson of Robert the Bruce, the castle is the perfect stand-in for Castle Douglas in Outlaw King. Robert Stewart has gone down in history as ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’ and was renowned for his lavish lifestyle. Wander the impressive great hall with its minstrels’ gallery and immense hearth and imagine how life would have been all those centuries ago.
The ancient town of Dumfries is where Robert the Bruce began his bid for the Scottish throne. Its most famous connection to our national hero is located at the altar of the old Greyfriars Kirk. This is the spot where Bruce reputedly killed his rival Sir John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch in 1306. Both men fought on opposing sides in the wars between Edward I of England and the Scots. It’s believed Bruce accused Comyn of treachery before stabbing Comyn to death. The Bruce then fled Dumfries to lead the rebellion against Edward, culminating in his coronation as King of Scots six weeks later.
Dundonald Castle sits high on a steep-sided hill with commanding views of the Ayrshire countryside, Ben Lomond and to the Isle of Arran and the Kintyre peninsula. The site of the castle has been in use as a fort and settlement since before 2000 BC. The second castle, a powerful stone enclosure castle is thought to have been destroyed by Robert the Bruce around 1298, who often destroyed castles he had captured to prevent their use by the English. The castle’s owner Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland, fought alongside Robert and married his daughter Marjorie, thereby giving rise to the House of Stewart (later Stuart) through their son Robert II.
This important religious site in west Fife, was the traditional last resting place of Scottish kings and dates back to 1072. In 1329 Robert the Bruce was laid to rest in what is now the Abbey Church - notably minus his heart (see information in the Melrose Abbey entry). Part of the original medieval abbey was burned during the Wars of Scottish Independence and then subsequently had to be rebuilt, and it’s believed that this work was undertaken by Robert who is said to have also added the royal palace. A skeleton, which at the time was thought to be The Bruce’s, was re-interred during construction of the new Abbey Church in 1818 and his name is memorialised in the parapet of the church tower. Dunfermline Abbey is used to portray Westminster in Outlaw King.
Built before 1240 on a huge volcanic rock overlooking the Firth of Lorn near Oban, Dunstaffnage Castle is the former stronghold of the MacDougall's and one of the oldest castles in Scotland. It was besieged and captured by Robert the Bruce in 1309 after the defeat of the MacDougall's at the Battle of Pass of Brander, and Bruce made the castle a royal fortress. Although today it’s in a ruinous state, its formidable stone curtain still has the power to inspire awe in visitors. Climb up to the battlements to appreciate its superb strategic position and the stunning views across the bay towards the Isle of Mull and over Lorne.
When Robert the Bruce laid siege to Edinburgh Castle in 1314, he had every building destroyed – except St Margaret’s Chapel, which grants it the status of the oldest building in the country. It would be decades before Edinburgh Castle was fully rebuilt. Today this stunning fortress is a world-famous icon of Scotland. Perched upon the cliffs of a former volcanic rock, it’s home to the Honours of Scotland, which are the UK’s oldest crown jewels, the One o’clock Gun, which is still fired ceremonially, and the Stone of Destiny, which is still used in coronation ceremonies to this day.
Step inside Glasgow Cathedral to marvel at the elaborate medieval architecture. The city of Glasgow is said to have sprung up around the cathedral, transforming from a modest burgh to the bustling city of today.
Largely dating from the 1200s (though parts of the cathedral are thought to be even older) the cathedral was the seat of Robert the Bruce’s key ally, Bishop Robert Wishart, who was Bishop of Glasgow from 1272 and helped arrange for Bruce’s original excommunication to be lifted.
In Outlaw King, Glasgow Cathedral appears as Greyfriar’s Cathedral and the Lord’s Hall.
Glen Coe is a valley full of myths and mystery and is one of Scotland's most iconic places. Located near Fort William in the west Highlands, this deep glen with its towering mountains and bristling sharp ridges was carved out centuries ago by fire and ice - follow the Glen Coe Geotrail to learn more. The glen is no stranger to the silver screen too, having featured prominently in several Harry Potter films and James Bond's Skyfall. The famous Three Sisters of Glen Coe mountains and General Wade's 18th century military road feature in Outlaw King in a scene after The Bruce's soldiers are ambushed at Scone as they regroup.
Just a little south west of Rothiemurchus Estate and still within the Cairngorms National Park is Glen Feshie – where remnants of the historic Great Caledonian Pine Forest of Scotland can be found. This is a spectacular area of mountain and moorland, with the ribbon of the River Feshie running through it. It’s also where Sir Edwin Landseer painted his renowned ‘Monarch of the Glen’ in 1851. Glen Feshie features as the Great Glen, a Highland hill and a Highland glen in Outlaw King. The estate owners are committed to an ambitious 200-year rewilding project, which will enhance the already majestic landscape, nurture habitats and increase wildlife in the area.
These romantic 12th-century ruins built by King David I in Edinburgh hosted many Scottish Parliament meetings over the years, including a parliament held by Robert the Bruce a year before his death. The treaty recognising Bruce as the rightful King of Scots, which ended the First War of Scottish Independence, was signed in the King’s Chamber of the Abbey of Holyrood in 1328. All that remains today of the once famous Holyrood Abbey church is the ruined and roofless nave. Walk in royal footsteps and take in the west front of the rebuilt abbey church, one of the most impressive Gothic facades anywhere in Scotland. Images courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland.
The magnificent present day ruins of Linlithgow Palace, with its lovely views over Linlithgow Loch, are most famous for being the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and her father James V. The present structure dates back to the 15th century, but a royal manor would have stood here during The Bruce’s lifetime. Located between Edinburgh and Stirling, the site was so strategically important that Edward I made the royal manor his base during his 1296 and 1301 campaigns. He expanded it between 1302 and 1303 and it remained in English hands until it was recaptured by The Bruce’s followers in 1313. The palace chapel is particularly fine and was used as The Bruce’s castle chapel in Outlaw King.
Loch Doon Castle is unique in more ways than one. Not only does it possess a highly unusual 11-sided curtain wall; incredibly, it was deconstructed and then reassembled stone by stone from its original setting on an island on Loch Doon to its present site to save it from rising water levels when the loch was dammed in the 1930s. The castle was probably built in the late 1200s by either the father of Robert the Bruce or himself. It would go on to feature heavily in the Wars of Independence. Sir Christopher Seton, Bruce’s brother-in-law, sought refuge here before his capture and subsequent execution by the English.
Some may recognise lovely Loch Laggan and the surrounding landscape from the BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen – this area is no first timer to the silver screen! Your first glimpse of the loch, surrounded on both sides by towering mountains as you head west, will be a memorable one. Stop at the small lochside layby just beyond the outflow into the River Pattack to photograph the stunning vista and see the vast beach here that was used in Outlaw King - it's the largest freshwater beach in Britain. As you carry along the scenic A86, which leads eventually to Spean Bridge and Fort William, look out for the imposing Ardverikie House.
As the old song goes "take the high road" or the "low road" to the "Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond", one of Scotland’s most iconic places and the largest body of freshwater in Great Britain. This vast loch is easily accessed by train from the centre of Glasgow and a number of cruise boats tour the loch's beautiful islands. The pretty village of Luss is the historic home of the Clan Colquhoun whose ancient clan-lands were used for scenes in Outlaw King depicting the dramatic Battle of Methven. Views from Conic Hill, along the West Highland Way, walking down the Ptarmigan Ridge from the summit of Ben Lomond for experienced hillwalkers, or climbing Ben Dubh from Luss, reveals the remarkable Highland Boundary Fault. This is a topographical feature that separates the Highlands from the Lowlands.
No one knows for certain where Robert the Bruce was born, but Lochmaben Castle is a pretty good bet. It was built in the 1160s by the Bruce family, the Lords of Annandale. However, this is not the ruin that remains today. The immense 12 m high defensive stone wall and other run-down structures that survive actually belong to a second castle built by Edward I in a stronger defensive location, after he successfully captured the original Lochmaben in 1298. So strong in fact was the second castle that he was able to successfully fend off an attack by The Bruce the following year. Images courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland.
Melrose Abbey, set against the lovely backdrop of the Eildon Hills, is where The Bruce’s heart is said to be buried - interred here after it returned from the Holy Land and the crusades, as he had requested prior to his death. After the king’s death in 1329 his body and his organs were buried separately from each other, as was customary for monarchs at that time. Today you can see a marker stone over the spot at the abbey where his heart has been laid to rest. Founded by King David I in 1136, the surviving remains of the church date to the early 15th century. Visit to see why Melrose Abbey is often referred to as one of Scotland’s most beautiful buildings.
In 1307 Robert the Bruce claimed his first major victory over Edward I of England in his fight to recapture his kingdom at the Battle of Loudon Hill in east Ayrshire. In Outlaw King, this clash is staged at Mugdock Country Park. It has no connection to the real Bruce but boasts plenty of history of its own. See the remains of the 14th century Mugdock Castle and Craigend Castle which now houses a restaurant and garden centre within its walled garden. The famous long-distance walking route, the West Highland Way, also skirts the outer edges of the park.
A more than convincing stand-in for Selkirk Forest in Outlaw King, Muiravonside is Falkirk's only country park. Newparks Family Farm and a great children's play area; all set within its 170 acres of lovely woodland and parkland, make this the ideal place for a family day out. The River Avon runs through the park and there’s a fine network of walking routes, including the Sculpture and Poetry Trail, to explore. You’ll also find the welcoming Steadings Café at the Visitor Hub courtyard.
Although Old St Bride's Church is not directly connected to Robert The Bruce, it would be remiss not to mention it, given its strong links with The Good Sir James of Douglas or the Black Douglas, who was one of The Bruce's most ardent supporters. St Bride's was originally a parish church for the local community, but became a mausoleum of the Black Douglas earls around 1330 when Sir James passed. See his elaborate tomb and those of other Black Douglases. A lead-lined casket is also said to hold the heart of Sir James and another. The church tower clock, believed to have been gifted by Mary Queen of Scots, is the oldest working clock in Scotland.
Believe it or not, this community paddle sports centre makes a brief appearance as the bottom of a cascading waterfall. Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course, it offers a safe environment in which you can get to grips with all kinds of paddlesports, outdoor swimming and many other water-based activities. It’s perfect preparation for tackling the wild waterways of the rugged Scotland shown in Outlaw King, whether in a canoe, kayak, river bug, raft or if you're canyoning.
Portencross Castle on the North Ayrshire coast is a 14th century fortress with the history on this site dating back to the Bronze Age. It is also reputed, though unconfirmed, to have royal connections with the kings of Scotland. It is believed that monarchs would lie in state here, before being transported to the island of Iona for burial. The castle is managed by the Friends of Portencross, admission is free - though donations are welcome and it opens to the public each Easter and closes in September. In Outlaw King the castle and its surrounds serve as a northern English backdrop and can also be glimpsed in scenes throughout the film, including those set on the beach, borderlands, and in one of the film's most poignant moments.
Rothiemurchus lies at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park – the UK’s largest – and boasts a rich and sometimes turbulent history with many royal, noble and religious connections. At the heart of the estate lies Loch an Eilein – loch of the island - where the ruins of a 13th century castle stand. This features in Outlaw King during the riveting attack by the MacDougall's. The estate features as a natural backdrop throughout the film, particularly at points including the de Burgh carriage, beach shots and the road to Bruce’s castle.
Scone Palace occupies a sacred place in Scotland’s long and sometimes turbulent history as the ancient crowning place of Scottish kings. The first King of Scots, Kenneth MacAlpin, the real-life Macbeth, and Robert the Bruce are among the 38 monarchs inaugurated at Scone upon the Stone of Destiny. Charles II was the last in 1651, but the Stone of Scone was used for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 and now resides in Edinburgh Castle. The one on display in the grounds of the palace is a replica. The property itself is open to visitors, allowing access to a selection of its 100-plus rooms.
With the ruins of Tantallon Castle perched above it, this delightful beach is a hidden gem and is found near the East Lothian town of North Berwick. Perfect if you want to avoid the crowds or enjoy a family picnic. Privately owned, it is well worth the small access charge to discover what’s thought to be the UK’s smallest harbour, splendid views of the Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle. In Outlaw King the beach is used for Kildrummy Castle scenes, where in 1306, The Bruce’s wife Elizabeth, his daughter Marjorie and his sisters Mary and Christina sought sanctuary, following his defeat at the Battle of Methven. The castle was subsequently besieged by the Prince of Wales' forces.
Perched just above the sea, St Andrews Cathedral is an atmospheric reminder of times past. These sprawling medieval ruins were once the major centre of Roman Catholic worship in Scotland and were described as one of the largest and most impressive religious buildings in Europe. Its consecration in 1318 was a major national event attended by King Robert the Bruce, who saw the building officially blessed and dedicated to God. It was also here that the king held his first parliament in 1309. Climb to the top of the 33m tall St Rule's Tower, which actually predates the cathedral, for spectacular views across St Andrews and Fife.
On 26 April 1315, a year after the Battle of Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce held his second parliament at the Church of St John in Ayr to decide on the succession of the Scots Crown - Robert having no male heirs at this time. It was in this old kirk that the nobility of Scotland officially passed the crown to Robert the Bruce. The tower is all that survives of the original medieval church dedicated to St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Ayr. Originally a small chapel, it evolved into an important cruciform church mirroring the growth of the town. The tower and grounds are usually only open to the public on Doors Open Days, but it's a very photogenic tower when viewed from surrounding streets.
As far as we know, a church or chapel has stood on the site of St Michael’s Parish Church since 1138. The present day church, with its striking west tower and cruciform shape, has been remodelled and restored over the centuries and has survived battles, a great fire, religious conflicts, billeted soldiers and the eroding effects of Scottish wind and weather. Located next to Linlithgow Palace, the church was used in Outlaw King to portray Perth Castle courtyard, a Yorkshire castle and Scone Abbey. Mary Queen of Scots was baptised in the church following her birth at Linlithgow Palace in December 1542 and it was the preferred place of worship for Scottish monarchs in medieval times.
Throughout the Wars of Independence with England, Stirling Castle was hotly fought over and changed hands frequently. In the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Bannockburn, Bruce regained control of the castle and ordered all the defences to be destroyed to prevent it falling into enemy hands again. This impressive fortress is one of Scotland's most historically important sites and was once a favoured residence of kings and queens. Knights, nobles and foreign ambassadors once flocked here to revel in its grandeur, superb sculptures and beautiful gardens.
The stunning small beach at Talisker Bay on the west coast of the ‘Misty Isle’ of Skye is where we find this Outlaw King filming location. It featured as Birlinn in the movie and is also where The Bruce meets Mackinnon. A short walk of about a mile from the tiny hamlet of Talisker crosses the Sleadale Burn and leads to the lovely grey sandy beach which is surrounded on either side by imposing cliffs. This is a fine spot for relaxing with friends and a warming dram or two of local Talisker whisky from the nearby village of Carbost, and take in what Chris Pine describes as Talisker’s “perfect majesty”.
On the far edges of Turnberry Hotel grounds, the crumbling ruins of this castle lie in the shadow of distinctive Turnberry Point Lighthouse. The setting, with spectacular views across to north Arran, is quite something. According to legend, Robert the Bruce’s mother Marjorie kidnapped and held his father Robert de Brus prisoner here until he consented to marry her. Her plan worked and Robert the Bruce may have been born here. Years later, in 1307, he would rescue it from English hands ahead of his victory at Bannockburn. In a twist of irony, it was Bruce who sealed the castle’s untimely demise a few year later, ordering its destruction lest it fall again into English hands.