Four Aberdeenshire film locations
Aberdeenshire is famed, world round, for its picturesque scenery, so much so that it has, on more than one occasion, caught the eye of the bright lights of Hollywood.
We’ve picked out four famous movies that were filmed in this delightful piece of the world – some you will no doubt know already, but there are a couple that might just take you by surprise…
Director Bill Forsyth’s comedy-drama Local Hero not only explores the conflict between big shot American oil company and the folk of a small Scottish fishing village – but also some of the most beautiful scenery that Scotland has to offer.
While the village of Ferness may be fictitious, the idyllic cottages and harbour depicted in the movie are very much real and can be found in Aberdeenshire’s coastal village of Pennan.
The iconic red telephone box from which Peter Riegert phones home to the USA was actually not originally a feature of the village – but merely a prop for the movie. However, when the film’s following called in to Pennan for a visit, there was disappointment to find this crucial detail missing. So, due to popular demand, a fully functional red telephone box was installed (albeit in a slightly different location) and has been a listed building since 1989!
If you want to discover the cinematic history of Local Hero, the single street and towering cliffs of Pennan are located just over an hour’s drive from Aberdeen.
While The Queen starring Helen Mirren featured not just one, but two Aberdeenshire castles – neither of them are the one that you might be inclined to assume…
The Oscar winning movie depicted the internal politics between the royal family and the Prime Minister following the death of Princess Diana. As the Queen was at her holiday home in Balmoral when the news reached her – it was natural that the famous royal residence would be used in the action of the movie – only it wasn’t.
The dramatic and beautiful structure of Castle Fraser was used as a backdrop for scenes from the movie. The grounds span over 300 acres, features one of the largest towers in Scotland and contains evidence of core structures that appear to date back to the 1450s. It is open to the public, so if you want to stop by for a visit and discover the wonderful stories both inside and out of Hollywood – then be sure to check it out.
The Queen also features both candid exterior shots and scenes from within the sumptuous interiors of Cluny Castle. While not freely available to visitors, it is used as a stunning wedding and events venue. As breathtaking historically as it is visually, it’s not difficult to see why producers deemed Cluny Castle to be fit for a Queen!
Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven was the dramatic setting of Elsinore Castle in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1990 adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece – Hamlet.
While most of the shots taken were of the castle’s imposing exterior - the cemetery scenes near the end of the movie were also filmed in Stonehaven – at the base of the cliffs on which Dunnottar Castle stands.
While the façade made an excellent double for the 16th century palace – the site is believed to have been fortified in the Early Middle ages. The ruins of Dunnottar castle are brimming with history from Viking invasions, to William Wallace, and Mary Queen of Scots. As well as the fascinating stories behind the castle, visitors are treated to wonderful views from the edge of the North Sea.
If you’re heading to the area to visit the impressive fortress, be sure to check out our blog on Five Things to Do In And Around Stonehaven.
However, Mel Gibson isn’t the only star to grace the courtyards of Dunnottar. In 2015, Paul McGuigan’s Victor Frankenstein hit the big screens bringing with it a surge in Stonehaven’s tourist activity.
The gothic cliff-top location of Dunnottar Castle was the perfect setting for the reimagining of Mary Shelley’s classic horror story and features prominently throughout the film. The crew, including James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, spent time filming there in March 2015 – bringing with them quite the interest from tourists and locals alike!
The summer after the film was released, Dunnottar Castle had to hire new staff to cope with the 800 daily visitors that they were experiencing to the spectacular landmark.
If you’re planning a visit to Stonehaven, don’t be put off by the creepy corridors and ominous skies depicted in the movie – the castle’s sinister aura was largely due to special effects!