Film Guide to the South of Scotland

by Scotland Starts Here, 22nd May 2020
Drumlanrig Castle and Estate
Film Guide to the South of Scotland

Film and TV have played a significant role in putting Scotland on the map. With its breathtaking landscapes, quaint villages and vast beaches, the country offers the perfect backdrop for anything from historical dramas to superhero blockbusters. But have you ever found yourself wondering where a particular scene was filmed? Or wanted to add locations to your travel list? Maybe you want to immerse yourself in Scotland’s landscapes while at home. While some areas are now well-known for their appearances on screen, features of the South of Scotland can still be well-hidden secrets. Let’s lift the curtain!

You might be surprised, but studios have long known the appeal of the area. Recent years have seen several big productions feature locations in these parts. So, get the popcorn ready. Here is our film guide to the South of Scotland – complete with real-life locations.


Long-kept family secrets slowly unravel in Julian Fellowes’ period drama about the rise of London’s industrial nouveaux riches. Despite its London setting, much of the filming for Belgravia happened in Scotland. And the stunning interiors of the Trenchard’s family home in the City are those of Manderston House near Duns in Berwickshire. Several rooms, including the Ballroom, Morning Room as well as the sparkling silver staircase shine on screen. 

The House of Mirth

Based on the novel by Edith Warton, The House of Mirth follows the slow and painful social descent of beautiful socialite Lily Bart, played by Gillian Anderson. The sumptuous interiors of Manderston star as the primary location for the adaptation.

Her Majesty, Mrs Brown

Dame Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria in this award-winning film from 1997. The plot follows the widowed Queen’s relationship with a Scottish servant, John Brown. Duns Castle in the Scottish Borders stands in for both Balmoral and Windsor Castle.

Duns Castle.

Double X – The Name of the Game

This thriller shows Norman Wisdom play an expert safe cracker who goes on the run after he tries to quit his life of crime. The film was Wisdom’s first film role in 20 years and the Stranraer ferry port is seen in the opening shots. The hotel and car park were in Port Patrick and the car chase scene takes place by the harbour in the town. The castle seen is Dunskey Castle.

Port Patrick harbour was the setting for a car chase scene in Double X – The Name of the Game.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

This Oscar nominated film starring Andie MacDowall and Christopher Lambert relates the tale of a child brought up in the wild by gorillas following the death of his parents. He is found by a Belgian explorer who deduces his history and brings him back to his grandfather’s home in the Scottish Lowlands. Floors Castle was one of the sumptious houses used to represent this noble seat.

Floors Castle


This war-time thriller brings to the screen the plans, actions and decisions made in the days and hours leading up to D-Day. Brian Cox stars as Winston Churchill. While the real-life D-Day preparations and meetings with the Allied leaders happened South of the Border, the scenes for the movie were shot at Arniston House in Midlothian. The impressive Oak Room stars as General Eisenhower’s war rooms, the setting for meetings between Cox’s British Prime Minister and John Slattery’s Eisenhower.


Drumlanrig Castle near Thornhill has a starring role in the historical drama series about World War II nurse Claire Randall and her Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. Drumlanrig stands in for the Duke of Sandringham’s country estate and it is here that the protagonists’ final showdown with the Duke of Sandringham takes place, all while Redcoats set up camp outside the castle.

In Midlothian, Arniston House’s beautiful exterior and interior appear in season 4 of the TV series, standing in for the Wilmington theatre entrance and lobby. Nearby Glencorse Old Kirk also appears in the series. The private church is the setting for Claire and Jamie’s wedding.

Driving Lessons

When eccentric, ageing actress Evie demands that Ben, a teenager supporting her with household tasks, drive her to Edinburgh for the festival, chaos, fun and a road trip ensue. Starring Rupert Grint and Julie Walters, this 2006 coming-of-age story may not be set at a specific location in the Scottish Borders. Still, those familiar with the area will quickly identify the local scenery. 

Tweed Valley | Scottish Borders

The Wicker Man 

When Police Sergeant Neil Howie investigates the disappearance of a young girl, he meets a wall of silence and is slowly drawn into the unsettling pagan practices of a Scottish Highland community. Though the plot of this 70’s cult classic takes place on a remote Hebridean island, the filming locations can actually be found in the south-west of Scotland. The Isle of Whithorn has a starring role, with picturesque villages such as Kirkcudbright and Gatehouse of Fleet also making an appearance. Several other local attractions feature: Those in the know will quickly identify Lord Summerisle’s castle and gardens as Castle Kennedy Gardens and Logan Botanic Garden.

Wicker Man sculpture
The Wicker Man sculpture at the Isle of Whithorn.

The Vanishing

This 2018 film starring Gerard Butler, is a fictional take on how three men on a lighthouse island disappear seemingly leaving no trace or clues as to how or why. The movie was based on the true story from Flannan Isle in 1900 where three men disappeared and were never found. To create the single lighthouse setting in the film, three lighthouses along the Rhins Peninsula were used – Corsewall Lighthouse, Killantringan Lighthouse and the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Today the lighthouses are linked up via a cycle tour – check out our Lighthouses blog for more information.

Killantringan Lighthouse along the Rhins Peninsula, Dumfries and Galloway.

The Da Vinci Code 

The adaptation of the international bestseller about the mystery of the Holy Grail follows the book’s storyline in a chase across several countries. The standout star of the production, however, is neither Tom Hanks nor Audrey Tatou but Rosslyn Chapel. The chapel in the small town of Roslin shot to fame following its feature in this 2006 thriller, and its beautifully carved interiors dazzle on screen. Nearby Rosslyn Castle and Glen also feature, and together offer a perfect day out. 

Women Talking Dirty

When single mother Cora and cartoonist Ellen meet, they strike an unlikely friendship. Taking in various locations throughout Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Borders, Women Talking Dirty features Glencorse Reservoir in the Pentland Hills, the sandy beaches of Coldingham Bay, as well as St Abbs

Avengers: Endgame

This Berwickshire location is another breakout star. After Thor’s home, Asgard is destroyed he and his people settle in a small Norwegian town, aptly named ‘New Asgard’. The location, however, is not in Norway at all but on Scotland’s south-east coast. The small village of St Abbs transformed into New Asgard, with many locals acting as extras during filming. St Abbs Head Nature Reserve also features, when Rocket Raccoon and the Hulk arrive, trying to bring the Avengers back together. Today, the town continues to pride itself on being New Asgard’s Scottish twin town. 

The Wicker Tree

This 2011 companion piece to the 70’s cult classic, follows a young American couple as they get pulled into the disturbing pagan practices of a small Scottish town. Shot on location in a number of Midlothian towns, viewers can rest assured that the real-life places are nothing like the ones seen on screen. Those featured include Temple, North Middleton, Dalkeith and Pathhead in Midlothian, as well as Crichton Castle and Arniston House

Tommy’s Honour

The 2016 historical drama Tommy’s Honour follows the lives of pioneering Scottish golfing champions Old and Young Tom Morris. Scottish Borderer Jack Lowden stars as the titular character and filming took place in the Lothians and southern Scotland. The picturesque market town of Peebles transformed into 19th century Edinburgh and St Andrews, while further scenes were filmed in Dalkeith, taking in St Marys church as well as Dalkeith Country Park and Palace


Mary Queen of Scots

Starring Vanessa Redgrave in the title role, the 1971 film follows the life of Mary, Queen of Scots after her return to Scotland. Shot in France, England and Scotland, the long list of notable locations also includes Hume Castle near Kelso in the Scottish Borders. 

Kelso Riverside | Credit:VisitKelso, Visit Kelso
Kelso Riverside | Credit: VisitKelso

Two Thousand Acres of Sky

Single mum Abby (Michelle Collins) recruits her friend Kenny (Paul Kaye) to pretend to be her husband so she and her young children can take up an offer for a family to escape an inner London housing estate for a remote Scottish island in this BBC Scotland TV series (2001-2003). The series was filmed primarily on the west coast of Dumfries and Galloway in Port Logan. Nearby Port Patrick was used as a stand in for the ferry port of Portee on the Isle of Skye.

Port Logan featured in the BBC TV series Two Thousand Acres of Sky.

One More Kiss

When Sarah (Valerie Edmond) receives life-changing news, she leaves her life in New York behind and returns to her home town in the Scottish Borders. Here, she reconnects with her childhood sweetheart Sam, played by Gerard Butler. Shot on location on both sides of the border, in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, 1999 film One More Kiss features several scenes in Burnmouth on the Berwickshire Coast. Look closely, and you’ll quickly identify the dramatic coastal scenery. 

Burnmouth Bay, Photo © Walter Baxter (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Do you have a favourite film that features the South of Scotland? What locations would you like to visit?