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 Midlothian and the Borders can still be well-hidden secrets. Let’s lift the curtain!
You might be surprised, but studios have long known the appeal of the two areas. Recent years have seen several big productions feature locations in these parts. So, get the popcorn ready. Here is our film guide to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders – complete with real-life locations.
Please note: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety are of paramount importance. Current government guidance is to stay safe and stay home. If you are going for walks or exercise, always follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and stay close to home. Closures and access restrictions may apply and will be lifted in line with government guidance. Always check with places directly and avoid all non-essential travel.
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. And if you look closely, you can also spot Cockburnspath on the Berwickshire Coast.
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.
Arniston House also stars in the historical drama series about World War II nurse Claire Randall and her Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. The historic 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a favourite film that features the Scottish Borders or Midlothian? What locations would you like to visit?