11/01/2019
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Mary Queen of Scots movie filming locations revealed by VisitScotland

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The new Mary Queen of Scots film, released in the UK on 18 January, was filmed at several locations in Scotland, VisitScotland has revealed today.

The film, which stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stewart, and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, looks set to inspire renewed interest in this tumultuous period of British history and offers the perfect excuse to explore Scotland and the many fascinating historical connections to Mary Stewart, as well as some the stunning filming locations used in the film.

Director Josie Rourke said of filming in Scotland: “We wanted to do as much as possible in Scotland and to show Mary in that environment and what her journey with it is. During the film, she comes to a deeper understanding and love of her country, so she had to be outside in it and witness the epic sweep of that landscape. Scotland is an extraordinary country, and it matches the scale of the story and the scale of what happens to Mary at certain points in the film. We just wanted to show Scotland in all of its incredible glory.”

Filming locations open to visitors

The following locations appear in the movie:

Strathdon, Aberdeenshire 

Lying in Upper Donside, around 45 miles west of Aberdeen, Strathdon is a stunning and quiet part of Scotland and a superb place for spotting wildlife. It is an area steeped in history and visitors can learn more at Corgarff Castle with its fascinating star-shaped fortifications, and at Glenbuchat Castle. 

During the production of Mary Queen of Scots, filming included a scene at Poldullie Bridge, Strathdon, in which the Queen Mary gets ambushed: a fight scene with cows blocking the bridge.

The East Lothian landscape

To the east of Edinburgh and within easy reach of the city lie the craggy cliffs, golden beaches and rolling countryside of East Lothian. Hemmed in by the Firth of Forth to the north and the Lammermuir Hills to the south, the history of the area is typified by the stronghold of Tantallon Castle as it rests formidably on cliffs above Seacliff Bay. 

Seacliff Beach, North Berwick, East Lothian

With the ruins of Tantallon Castle perched above it, beautiful Seacliff Beach is found near the town of North Berwick. Seacliff is privately owned and there’s a small charge to access it, but it’s well worth a visit to discover what’s thought to be the UK’s smallest harbour with views of the Bass Rock. The beach also been featured in the recent Netflix release, Outlaw King, which stars Chris Pine. 

In the film, Seacliff can be seen in a scene featuring Mary and her ladies in waiting on a rocky shore, looking out to sea, speaking to one another in French.

Blackness Castle, West Lothian

This mighty fortification, jutting out into the Firth of Forth 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 is 5.5 metres thick. Now a popular visitor attraction, the castle has served as a garrison, state prison and also featured in season one of Outlander as well as Outlaw King.

The photogenic Cairngorms and Glen Coe are also featured in the film, as Mary and her army ride across Moorlands.

(film image copyright Focus Features, all rights reserved)

QUICK LINK: Exclusive interview with director Josie Rourke in the Mary Queen of Scots souvenir magazine

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