Outlander fans swarm Clava Cairns - site that inspired the show

Tourists are flocking to the Clava Cairns, the ancient burial monument that inspired the time-travel TV hit Outlander.

Clava Cairns near Inverness. Picture: Creative Commons/ Elliot Simpson

Coach-loads of foreign visitors have been swarming to the site near Culloden, near Inverness, to see the stones, which bear a similarity to a fictional Craigh na Dun formation in the series and act as a time travel portal on the show.

Ward councillor Duncan MacPherson saluted the success of the series and its subsequent tourism boost adding: “The tones at Culloden are becoming like a mini Stonehenge.

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“People are coming from all over the world to see them and be photographed beside the stones which is great for the area. The tourists are coming in their droves.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in the hit show Outlander. Picture: Creative Commons

“The other week there were about 12 buses in the one day and of course it’s a boost for the city’s hotels, bars, restaurants and other sites.”

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The romantic drama depicts the story of Claire Randall, a British Army nurse in World War II, who is on a second honeymoon in Scotland when she topples through a ring of mysterious stones and is transported back to 1743. There she meets and falls in love with Highland warrior Jamie Fraser.

The series is adapted from the bestselling books by Diana Gabaldon.

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan in the hit show Outlander. Picture: Creative Commons

Stephen Duncan, director of commercial and tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, which manages more than 300 Historic Scotland visitor attractions, said: “We have seen historic sites in our

care, such as Clava Cairns, experience a significant surge in visitor numbers due to the ‘Outlander Effect’ and the start of the summer season 2017 has seen sites right across Scotland record dramatic increases in footfall from the same period last year.”

Chris Taylor, regional partnerships director of VisitScotland, admitted he was overwhelmed by the success of various tours by visitors to film locations who are known as set jetters.

He said: “Set-jetting is a hugely popular pastime and the show enjoys the support of a hugely loyal and passionate fan base, particularly in North America and Germany.

“Outlander is helping take iconic images of the Highlands to potential visitors worldwide, boosting the profile of this beautiful region around the globe and tapping into the millions of people globally with Scottish ancestry which is particularly apt in this, Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology.”

The Clava Cairns are about 4,000 years old and were built to house the dead.

Two parts of the complex, Balnuaran of Clava and Milton of Clava, are open to the public and the sites contain a range of pre-historic burial monuments plus the remains of a medieval chapel. Tourists have been taking photographs and selfies of themselves at the stones and posting them on social media sites which has prompted even more tourist interest.

Mr Taylor added: “Although the Clava Cairns don’t feature on screen, Scotland’s landscapes have helped breathe life into some of the world’s best-loved literary heroes.

“The blockbuster fantasy series, along with the smash-hit TV show, has inspired a range of tours and catapulted the real life attractions and places into the spotlight.