Welcome to Culross…
Culross (actually pronounced ‘coo-ris’, not ‘cull-ross’) is one of Scotland’s best-preserved and prettiest 17th-century villages and famous for its role in the TV series Outlander. Here is why you should visit.
Stroll around the Royal Burgh of Culross
Located on the Firth of Forth, 12 miles west of the Forth Rail Bridge in the south-west of Fife, Culross was built in the 16th and 17th century to house workers in the mining and later salt panning industries stretching along the Fife coast.
Once a busy seaport, Culross is now more famous for its role in the TV series Outlander.
Parts of the village, including the Palace, are now owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland, who are doing a very good job indeed of keeping the village as a perfect snapshot of a 17th-century Scottish village, albeit one that has been modernised and cleaned up for the 20th century.
My favourite houses are on the colourful Tanhouse Brae – and can you spot the impressively hidden substation?
Culross Abbey and Culross Castle
Above the village sits Culross Abbey and monastery. Thought to have been originally built in the 13th century as Culross was the birthplace and home of the famous Scottish saint, St Mungo. The abbey is now the villages’ parish church.
Further along the coast is Culross Castle otherwise known as Dunimarle Castle with its beautiful garden and a tiny church. The castle can be seen peeping out on the hillside from the Fife Coastal Path. The gardens at the castle are open to the public.
Culross Town House and the witches of Fife
Culross’s Town House was once formerly used as a courthouse and a real-life prison for witches awaiting trial on the Firth of Forth – further along the coast at Torryburn there is a ‘witches stone’ used for the trials.
Did you know that more ‘witches’ were accused and put to death in Fife than any other region of Scotland? There are plans to install a permanent memorial to the ‘witches’ of Scotland on the coast including Fife’s 280 victims.
Despite proclaiming itself a Royal Burgh with its own Palace, no king or Queens has ever lived in Culross. The honour of the name actually comes from a descendant of Robert the Bruce; a wealthy local mine owner, known locally as Sir George.
By developing a magical (well it was revolutionary at the time) mining technology to dig out under the River Forth he made rather a lot of money and built up the village you can still see today. The ‘Palace’ was his rather impressive home. King James IV, seeing taxes galore, promptly made the village a Royal Burgh.
The Palace gardens became Castle Leoch’s herb gardens in the Outlander TV series.
Cranesmuir – an Outlander filming location
If you are a fan of Outlander, Culross is the base for the fictional village of Cranesmuir, the village close to Castle Leoch. The Mercat Cross square, the Study House, the gardens of the palace and the West Kirk outside the village were all used for outlander filming locations.
The square at the Mercat Cross was used in many scenes, including to hang Gellis (and nearly Clare) as witches and a squeamish scene involving an ear and a pillory! The buildings around the Mercat Cross square were painted blue for filming and ‘The Study’ house, (built in 1610 for a wealthy Culross merchant) became home to Gellis Duncan.
The garden at Culross Palace also stood in for the herb gardens of Castle Leoch, and palace’s Withdrawing Room as Gellis’s parlour. Nearby, Culross West Kirk is the creepy Black Kirk.
West Kirk / The Black Kirk
Around a mile north of the village is West Kirk, the former parish church of Culross, now a ruin with a graveyard dating from the twelfth century., with many carved 17th gravestones.
To get to the kirk, park at the car park west of the village and cross the road at the entrance. There is a steep cobbled path leading up the hill to the church.
West Kirk was used an outlander filming location – scenes at the Black Kirk between Jamie and Claire were filmed here.
Where to eat in Culross
- The Red lion, Culross. The Red Lion menu has all the pub grub staples – try the haggis nachos and pies! You can look at the Red Lion Culross menu online.
- The Biscuit Cafe, Culross– toasties and soups are served at the Biscuit Cafe (above the Pottery Shop)
- Culross Palace Cafe – Bessie’s Cafe is located right in the Palace grounds
- The Admiral Cafe – on the Mercat’s Cross.
- The Ice Cream van – often to be found on the green, serves delicious caramel and vanilla ice cream cones.
Getting to Culross
Catch the train to Dunfermline, where Stagecoach run buses that pass through the village (Numbers 71 and 78 depart from James Street in Dunfermline, whilst number 74 departs from Dunfermline bus station). You can also catch a train to Falkirk and catch number 8 or 28 buses to Culross.
From Edinburgh and Glasgow the drive will take around 40 mins to an hour depending on traffic on the Queensferry Crossing and Kincardine Bridges. Free parking is available at each end of the village.
Love, from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.