Was Outlander’s Ardsmuir a Real Prison? Where is it Located?

The premiere episode of Starz’s historical series ‘Outlander’ season 6 begins with Jamie’s sentence at the Ardsmuir Prison in 1753. When his fellow Scots choose sides to argue and engage in fights with each other, Jamie prefers to complete his sentence in peace within the darkness-filled walls of the prison. Still, he gets involved in the affairs of the prisoners and becomes the de facto leader of a part of the inmates. Since the terrifying prison is a pivotal part of Jamie’s past, one must be wondering whether the establishment was a real prison in the history of Scotland. Let’s find out!

Was Ardsmuir a Real Prison?

No, Ardsmuir Prison was not a real prison. The prison is a fictional establishment located in the north of Scotland, near Coigach. Even though Coigach is a real peninsula in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, the prison is created for the storyline that involves Jamie’s imprisonment upon the Jacobite Rising. After the Battle of Culloden, Jamie gets convicted as a traitor to the crown and reaches Ardsmuir as a prisoner. Since Claire goes back to the future with her unborn child, Jamie suffers emotionally throughout his time at Ardsmuir.

Jamie tries his best to hide his despair in the dark alleyways and cells of the prison. When he goes to the prison yard, displaying himself to the world around him, he finds solace in silence and solitude. The isolated existence of the prison parallels with the loneliness Jamie feels while living in prison, without the presence of his beloved wife. The mighty structure of the prison also witnesses Jamie and Thomas Christie’s ideological confrontations, whose repercussions do not end with his time in Ardsmuir.

Upon building Fraser’s Ridge in North Carolina, Jamie sends invitations to inmates who were with him in Ardsmuir. After the arrival of several others, Thomas Christie lands in Jamie’s settlement with a group for shelter in 1773, exactly twenty years after Christie’s ideological encounters with the Highland warrior. As Christie arrives at North Carolina to most likely change the fates of Jamie and Fraser’s Ridge, one can’t ignore the part Ardsmuir Prison plays to connect both of them.

Where is Ardsmuir Prison Located?

Craigmillar Castle, located at Craigmillar Castle Road, in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, stands in for the fictional Ardsmuir Prison in ‘Outlander.’ The ruined medieval castle was built by the Preston family of Craigmillar in between the 14th and 16th centuries. In the present time, the castle is protected by Historic Environment Scotland, a public body that promotes the country’s historical environment.

Image Credit: Sophie Pearce/YouTube

The renowned castle is known as the place where Mary, Queen of Scots, came to heal following the birth of her son, James VI. The incredible tower house in the middle of the castle and the defensive courtyard wall make it a captivating site to film Ardsmuir Prison. The grandeur of Craigmillar Castle is an essential factor of Ardsmuir’s outlook in the series.

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