It’s Not Always Scotland

Jul 22, 2014 by

 

During my frequent travels through the internet world, fulfilling my mission to explore strange Celtic worlds, to seek new Celtic life and civilization, etc., etc., I sometimes see pictures that are mistakenly identified and shared–over and over again–as “Scotland”.

SPOILER ALERT: Despite what you may have heard, the things you see on the net are not always true or correct.

Where in the world is this castle tower? Image source

Where in the world is this castle tower? Image source

Take, for example, this lovely photo of a castle tower in a remote loch–it’s misty, it’s romantic, it’s magical, so it must be in Scotland, right?

Nope.

While the scene is perhaps reminiscent of beautiful Eilean Donan Castle in the western Highlands of Scotland, this tiny tower is dollhouse size by comparison.   It’s actually a folly tower (meaning it’s merely ornamental) set in the magnificent gardens of Pena National Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Sintra, Portugal.  Northern Portugal has a strong Celtic heritage, so at least the confused captioner is keeping it in the family, so to speak.   The “castle” is one of two such structures that are home to the park’s elegant swans and ducks, which sometimes sit at the base of the towers, preening their feathers for the tourists.

The Pena Palace Duck houses  Image source

The Pena Palace Duck houses Image source

 Photos are often shared as is, with the sharer unaware of the mistaken identity of the photo.  It happens to the best of us, usually with no one the wiser and no harm done.  Honestly, I do understand why the first picture above  has been repeatedly misidentified as a Scottish scene, but the research geek in me just has to set the record straight— for posterity, ye ken. 

read more

Waiting On Jamie Fraser

Jun 8, 2014 by

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update here on the new Outlander cable series from Starz, so I thought we could all do with another attempt to keep up with the Frasers.

I won’t rehash all the basics, but for those who don’t know yet  (been off the grid  for awhile, aye?), Outlander is based on a series of best-selling novels by author Diana Gabaldon.  It is a time travel/romance/historical fiction story set mostly in 18th century Scotland, and filmed almost entirely in 21st century Scotland.  I’ve done several posts about the upcoming series–click HERE, HERE and HERE to read some of my previous posts about Jamie and Claire Fraser and the world of Outlander.

 

The first episode of Outlander is set to debut at 9PM on August 9, 2014, and the countdown is making more than few fans crazy with excitement. Starz has just released a new trailer (above), perhaps to help keep the shouts of “Are we there YET?!” to a low roar.  There have also been additions to the “How To Speak Outlander” YouTube series, the newest being a Happy Birthday wish in Scots Gàidhlig from Sam Heughan:

In another installment, Dougal (Graham McTavish) and Colum (Gary Lewis) MacKenzie teach us how to shout the Mackenzie war cry, Tulach Àrd. It sounds a bit like “To the Car!”, which is a fitting battle cry  if you’re on the way to attend an Outlander fan gathering, but not so much if you’re a member of an ancient Highland clan about to rout the bloody English army.  Tulach Àrd is Gàidhlig for “High Hill” and refers to a mountain in the McKenzie clan heartland of Kintail, a region of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland.

 

Media coverage has greatly expanded in recent months, as news outlets see that global television executives are taking strongly positive views (i.e., putting their money where their mouths are) of  Starz’s  Outlander series. A recent article from TVWise predicts Outlander could be cable’s next global hit, and outlines five things driving the show’s success.  The crazy-like-a-fox  money analysts at The Motley Fool have also given a nod of approval to Outlander, noting that the show has an early August premier, which follows right on the heels of San Diego’s Comic-Con (a happy scheduling fact sure to give Outlander a tremendous publicity boost) and a large, worldwide fan base, all factors which give the show ” the ingredients to draw AMC or HBO-like numbers for an original series.”

 

 

EW4

EW’s new issue features two pages of Outlander info from Ron Moore; image source:OutlanderItaly.com

 

According to Outlander TV News, always a great site for the latest Outlander news, the June 13th issue of Entertainment Weekly will feature a two page spread showing side-by-side comparisons between the scene from the book and the script for the scene in the TV series. Outlander Italy, another terrific fan page, has some scans (see above) of the article, with new photos of the love triangle at the center of the plot. Wowza!

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

The newest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series

 

The best way to pass the time til the premiere is by reading Diana Gabaldon’s newest book in the Outlander series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, (referred to as MOBY by fans) due out June 10, 2014. You can pre-order the book in any available format HERE on Amazon.   You can also read Diana’s thoughts about seeing–and hearing–the full Outlander Episode One for the first time by clicking HERE.

 

indexJAMIEWORTHWAIT

The bottom line, however, is this—we simply, frustratingly, must wait until the 9th of August.  Like Jamie Fraser himself, Starz and Ron Moore mean to take their time about it, working hard to produce an adaptation of Outlander that is faithful to the spirit of the book, full of swash and buckle, and so visually stunning it will leave us all asking for more.

As a longtime fan of Outlander, I say that’s a verra good thing to wait for, ye ken.

 

 

 

Places To Visit Before Going Through The Stones~ Sites I recommend to learn more or keep updated about Outlander, the book, the series and the fans:

 

DianaGabaldon.com

Starz’s Outlander page

Starz’s Official Outlander  Twitter page

The Outlander Podcast--chatting about all things Outlander, and having fun doing it!

My Outlander Purgatory–believe me, they FEEL your pain!

Outlander Kitchen–historical and character-inspired recipes from Diana’s books

WESCelt’s Outlander Pinterest board

WESCelt’s Outlander Facebook album

 

read more

Rob Roy Versus Jamie Fraser: Who Wears the Kilt Best?

Jun 8, 2014 by

I thought I’d give my Facebook followers a little fun by positing this simple question: Who wears the look best–Rob Roy in a kilt or Jamie Fraser in a kilt? The comparison was between the two pictures below–Rob (Liam Neeson) first, and Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the second picture.

Well, hoo whee, did that stir up the hens!  Click HERE to read some of the comments.

 

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

Liam Neeson as Rob Roy MacGregor

 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser

For those of you who have never heard of Jamie Fraser,  some background is required.  James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, a  Highland warrior,  is the lead character in Diana Gabaldon’s novel Outlander, an historical romance set in Scotland in 1745 and right after World War II–yes, there is time travel involved, with ancient standing stones (not a blue police booth) as the portal.  Diana added  several subsequent novels to the series, which is extremely well written and chock full of historical facts and allusions.

 

You can buy any or all of Diana’s novels (in all formats) on my Amazon list of  her novels by clicking here.    It will be a good investment of both your time and money because the premium cable channel Starz is premiering  the first season of Outlander, the TV adaptation of the novels ( filmed on location in beautiful Scotland)  at 9PM on August 9, 2014.  Starz has been given approval for a second season  of Outlander, as well.

 

outlander_starz

 

Think Game of Thrones, with a Scottish setting, and you’ll be close to visualizing the  upcoming series that has fans shivering with antici…pation.   Sam Heughan, a  Scottish actor, has been chosen to play the critical role of Jamie Fraser, earning him thousands of devoted–and I do mean DEVOTED–fans throughout the  social media universe.

147f9d21675303220728ecd563d6635e

Fans Reaction to Sam Heughan Tweeting the Word “Sassenach”

 

To be fair, Sam Heughan does look a bit more scruffy in his photo, but Starz has been dribbling out official photos of Jamie/Sam, releasing only a few of him in a kilt.  Here’s one that was tweeted by a Starz employee–a cut out of Jamie in a kilt, looking like he just finished a battle:

 

c95a448fc660693b4bb9863693f446e0o

 

The fans are VERY clear , however, on what they want from Starz and Ron D. Moore, who’s adapting the series for TV (his wife is a die-hard Outlander fan):

 

 

Liam Neeson, from Northern Ireland, is a well-known actor, and is highly regarded for his portrayal of the famous Scottish figure,  Rob Roy MacGregor.  Liam also has a serious fan base and it’s easy (on the eyes) to see why:

33liamneeson

Liam in the 1995 Film Rob Roy

But, clearly, there’s a new Scot in town, with dashing good looks, red hair and a kilt–in whatever shape– set on winning over more Sassenach wenches to the Fraser clan.

And in this instance, I’m thinking fans don’t want Jamie/Sam to take his time about it, aye?

 

Jamie Fraser; image source

Jamie Fraser; image source ©SRusso

read more

Scotland’s Dunnottar Castle

May 11, 2014 by

 

On the north east coast of Scotland, high atop a rocky headland on the North Sea, lie the ruins of a medieval fortress called Dùn Fhoithear. Known as Dunnottar in English, this famous castle is one of the most photographed in Scotland, and with good reason. The views of the castle from land and sea are simply stunning, calling up memories of ancient Picts, medieval Scottish knights and Jacobites, all of whom are connected to the site. Dunnottar was once controlled by the Keiths, who held the peerage title Earl Marischal until the lands and castle were seized by the Crown from the 10th Earl for his role in the Jacobite Rising of 1715. The castle essentially fell into disrepair until it was bought by the Cowdray family in 1925; the family still owns the castle, but it is open to the public.

 

 

The castle played a prominent role in the history of Scotland, and William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II all visited Dunnottar at some point during its storied history.

 

 

In November, 1651, Cromwell’s forces laid siege to the castle, seeking the Honours of Scotland (the regalia of crown, sword and sceptre) used during the coronation of Charles II at Scone castle earlier in 1651. The Dunnottar defenders held out for six months against a vastly superior force, until the Honours were safely smuggled out of the castle and secreted beneath the floor of a local church. The Honours, which are the oldest set of crown jewels in the British isles, are now on display at Edinburgh Castle.

 

 

Visitors to Dunnottar can walk from the nearby town of Stonehaven (about two miles) or drive to the small car park near the castle. You must then follow a footpath to the base of the castle headland, and climb a long, steep set of stone stairs to reach the castle grounds.

 

For more information about Dunnottar, its hours of operation and directions, click on the castle website HERE.

read more