Going Medieval: The Highlands

Constance Perry ’15 and her classmates tour Scotland’s Highlands and visit Doune Castle, the film location for Game of Thrones and Outlander.

We made it to Scotland!

Edinburgh greeted us with snow. And this snow was not the minor, soft flakes we had in Dublin. No, this snow piled on the ground in a matter of minutes. We raced off the airport bus to our new home base, The Grassmarket Hotel, located just a few blocks from Scotland's famous Royal Mile.

We’re examining tourist attractions for our field study, so we spent Tuesday browsing the Royal Mile itself, which is a section of the Old Town streets in the heart of Scotland’s historic capital. Starting at Edinburgh Castle, the resting place of the crown jewels, we explored war memorials, royal chambers, and prisons.

Edinburgh Castle looms over its city from a mass of volcanic rock, completely stoic toward the pull of time. Even as the city expands around it, Edinburgh Castle remains a starkly traditional structure in an otherwise urban blanket.

After our group stormed the castle, we divided to conquer even more of the Royal Mile and its stores filled with healthy inventories of scarves and sheep-themed mugs. One important attraction on our list included The Writer's Muesuem, which pays tribute to Scotland's famous authors. The museum’s exhibits celebrate the lives of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Then came the Highlands—the grand tour we had all been waiting for.

We were lucky to have a great tour guide named Mac to show us around. He is one of the 80 guides with Rabbie's Tours; a company that leads guided tours across the United Kingdom. Mac's knowledge of Scotland's history kept us engaged—even through the six-hour drive from Edinburgh to the city of Inverness (a name meaning mouth of the River Ness).

Mac let us stop at several places along the way to take photos and listen to stories of his homeland. We stopped at Loch Ness to see if we could find the world's most famous cryptid, Nessie. We posed outside of Doune Castle, the filming site of Game of Thrones, Outlander, and Monty Python and The Holy Grail. We stumbled down embankments and caught a waterfall at sunset. And we hurled snowballs at expensive cameras and at our playful professors.

We stayed in Inverness for the night and took a bus back to Edinburgh the next day. More photos of our trip to the Highlands to come!