Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle star in Outlaw King

The Bruce...Chris Pine, star of the Netflix movie Outlaw King, which is released gloablly today (Friday). Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle also have starring roles in the film. (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)
The Bruce...Chris Pine, star of the Netflix movie Outlaw King, which is released gloablly today (Friday). Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle also have starring roles in the film. (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)

Movie fans will be tuning in to Netflix from today (Friday) to view its latest blockbuster, Outlaw King.

And two local monument managers are among those who can’t wait to see it.

On the Peel...on what turned out to be a beautiful night for filming. (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)

On the Peel...on what turned out to be a beautiful night for filming. (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)

For Alan Mowat and Graeme Sinclair got a sneak preview of the movie during filming at Linlithgow Palace and Blackness Castle.

With heightened security at the closed visitor attractions, very few fans were able to get a glimpse of the stars, including Chris Pine, Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie and Scots actor James Cosmo.

But Alan and Graeme were on site to watch as their beloved buildings were transformed by the crew into amazing sets for the movie.

Alan, who is monument manager at the Palace, said: “We’ve had a number of film crews on site in the past and they usually turn our poor, beautiful Palace into a prison. Thankfully, this time it’s used as a castle.

First day of filming...on an estate outside Linlithgow with Monarch of the Glen actor Alastair McKenzie (centre), who plays John Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl. Alastair's family also visited the Palace and were given a brief history of the site by monument manager Alan Mowat. (Pic: SWNS)

First day of filming...on an estate outside Linlithgow with Monarch of the Glen actor Alastair McKenzie (centre), who plays John Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl. Alastair's family also visited the Palace and were given a brief history of the site by monument manager Alan Mowat. (Pic: SWNS)

“Filming took place on two separate occasions, last September and October.

“The Palace was closed to visitors during filming and fans were kept well away from the set, at the Cross.

“I think they may have got a glimpse of the actors, coming and going in their cars, but that was it.

“Security was tight as Netflix was keen that nothing was released on social media before its own trailer.

On horseback...Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) with his dad, Robert the Bruce Snr (James Cosmo). (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)

On horseback...Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) with his dad, Robert the Bruce Snr (James Cosmo). (Pic: Courtesy of Netflix)

“I did walk past Chris Pine at one point but that was the closest I got.

“However, I spoke briefly to James Cosmo and Alastair Mackenzie was really nice.

“Some of his relatives visited during filming and he was asking questions about the history of the Palace.”

The courtyard was transformed into a market place, St Michael’s Parish Church used for Bruce’s wedding and a funeral and the Peel and lochside filmed for Bruce’s coronation.

Alan said: “It was amazing seeing horses ride into the courtyard, which they covered with gravel to hide the more modern flagstones.

“They also had to avoid filming in one corner of the courtyard as we’re doing some conservation work to prevent the sandstone walls from crumbling.

“We were on site to ward off visitors, ensure the crew adhered to protocol in terms of building safety and they had everything they needed.

“A lot of work went on before the filming. The sets really did look spectactular.

“We were also extremely lucky with the weather. The evening of the coronation, in particular, was beautiful.

“The light was perfect and the Peel and Loch looked tremendous. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on screen now.”

Alan is hoping that Outlaw King will bring even more visitors to the Palace.

He added: “We featured in just three Outlander scenes and have had so many visitors because of it. We’re hoping the film will bring in even more tourists.”

In 2017/18, the Outlander effect saw a year on year increase in visitors of 17 per cent at the Palace – from 74,380 in 2016-17 to 87,254.

The series has also been kind to Blackness Castle, which enjoyed a 44 per cent increase – from 30,419 visitors in 2016-17 to 43,763.

Graeme Sinclair, the Castle’s monument manager, said: “Outlander has been a huge success for the Castle; our visitor numbers have quadrupled since 2014.

“So we’re looking forward to seeing how Outlaw King affects those figures.

“Filming took place in the last two weeks of November last year, although quite a lot of work was done before and after on the sets.

“They encased the metal railings in wood to represent a more mediaeval style and erected a wooden balcony down at the seagate.

“Big sheet plates were also placed in the grounds to protect the land from the heavy cranes and vehicles.

“I believe the castle will feature as an English prison.

“Our office is in a two-storey building in the grounds so, while we kept a professional distance, we did have a great view. In between takes, we were also able to have a look around the sets.

“It was really interesting to see a totally different industry at work.”

Historic Environment Scotland is guardian of both the Palace and Castle.

Stephen Duncan, its commercial and tourism director, said: “Our properties provide awe-inspiring backdrops for all kinds of filming.

“We hope that the release of Outlaw King will inspire even more visitors to come and discover the history of these sites first-hand.”

HES has developed a Robert the Bruce Trail which will allow visitors to follow in his footsteps. It launched today (Friday) and is available on the website at www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/robert-the-bruce/