Outlander—is the Starz show based on a true story?

Although the historical drama is based on a series of fantasy novels, some parts of Outlander are true to history

outlander
(Image credit: starzplay)

Outlander, the TV phenomenon that airs on Starz, is based on an eponymous book series by Diana Gabaldon. Although it is clearly a fictional show, some portions of the plot are actually rooted in historical truths. 

As Outlander season 6 grabs people’s attention, we break down 4 things that are historically correct about the fantastic TV show.

THE CASTLES ARE TRUE TO REALITY

A lot of the show's filming locations are actually real destinations that showrunners renamed and used throughout the show. The infamous Fort William castle, for example, is actually Blackness Castle in Scotland—about half an hour away from Edinburgh. In case you need a memory refresher, it is where Jamie was first imprisoned and tortured by Black Jack Randall.

Scotland's real Doune Castle also plays an important role on the show, as a stand in for Clan MacKenzie's home, Castle Leoch. Fun fact: the destination, originally built in 1390, was also featured on Games of Thrones and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

LORD LOVAT WAS A REAL PERSON!

The book series' author, Diana, chimed in on this one. "Simon, Lord Lovat, a.k.a. 'The Old Fox,' was certainly a real person and a very colorful one, too," the writer reveals on her own website (opens in new tab). "I made no alterations to his life or persona, save for grafting an illegitimate and totally fictional branch into his family tree by making him Jamie Fraser's grandfather. Given Old Simon's persona as recorded, attributing an illegitimate son to him would in no way be character assassination."

True, the character is a rather odd one on the show but the fact that his existence is somewhat based on reality makes us like him that much more.

outlander

(Image credit: Starzplay)

THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN ACTUALLY HAPPENED

As (true) history has it, a British government force led by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, defeated the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart on April 16, 1746. That will forever be known as the Battle of Culloden, which was actually portrayed in the season 3 premiere of Outlander. 

Although the characters that participated in the televised version of the war were obviously fictional, the overall way that the battle was depicted was pretty accurate. In case you were wondering, Bonnie Prince fled and nobody heard from him ever again in real life as well.

A REAL-LIFE SOLDIER  DID SURVIVE THE BATTLE OF CULLODEN

Diana revealed that she came up with the character of Jamie Fraser after reading the book Prince in the Heather, which details the stories of "19 wounded Jacobites [that] hid in a farmhouse after the Battle [of Culloden]." All of them were executed by Red Coat a couple of days later—except for one soldier, "a Fraser of the Master of Lovat's regiment." No, he likely was not named Jamie Fraser but it's still a pretty awesome portion of the story.

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.