Movies & Books Set in Scotland – Wherever you can you can experience a slice of Scotland and Scottish culture – and I’m not just talking Braveheart. Here’s a round up of poems, book, movies and experiences that put Scotland at your fingertips… *Contains affiliate links.
Poems – Books Set in Scotland
Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns – A rollicking ride of booze, bagpipes, devils and dancing. Fantastic intro to the Scots language and to Burns. Escapist and dramatic.
Carol Ann Duffy – Any poem by this Glaswegian poet is a thing of beauty.
Books Set in Scotland
The Black House – remote island living, hunting for Guga, and a murder. Life is quietly dramatic in Lewis.
Sunset Song – the struggle of farming life, with love, hope and loss interwoven.
Peter Pan – JM Barrie’s pirate games in the grounds of Moat Brae in Dumfries inspired him to write the fantasy Peter Pan.
How Late it Was, How Late – a Kelman stream of consciousness gem, where everyday life, loneliness and work is summed up with poignancy and insight. Winner of the 1994 Booker Prize.
Girl Meets Boy – a modern take on Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
The Weatherhouse – WW1 in Aberdeenshire, and a man returns from the frontline to a tight-knit rural community. A slow moving but rewarding Nan Shepherd novel, often overlooked due to the popularity of The Living Mountain.
Eleanor Oliphant is Absolutely Fine – Set in Glasgow, this humorous page-turner is an optimistic yet dark tale of overcoming adversity, telling the story of Eleanor who struggles with everyday social interaction.
Under the Skin – this book made my skin crawl. When men are treated like cattle, it’s impossible not to see the meat industry in a whole new light. Check out the film starring Scarlet Johansson, as she picks up men around Glasgow, destined for the farm.
The Harry Potter series – escapist magical fiction with lots of Scottish inspiration, and I still can’t wait to catch a train over that viaduct. One day…
One Day – Romance in Edinburgh! A bit cheesy, or is it a ‘will they/won’t they’ classic?
The Trick is to Keep Breathing – I found this quite a difficult yet wonderful read, as the depression and isolation summed up was so insightful. Janice Galloway’s characterisation and expression of inner pain is beautifully done.
The Sopranos – not the Italian mafia TV series, but a group of Scottish school girls off to a singing competition, and also on the prowl for navy lads when the submariners are in town. Think a ‘Derry Girls’ vibe, and buckle up for a hormonal ride.
Morvern Callar – when Morvern finds her boyfriend dead, leaving behind a note, mix tape and unpublished novel, what will she do next? The novel is also a film starring Samantha Morton.
The Ice Twins – feel the whip of the wind on your face and the salt spray in the air with this haunting text. Part family tragedy, part murder mystery, as a family run from their London troubles to a beautifully isolated Scottish island.
Outlander – Love the TV series, then read the book. A great gift for those obsessed with that chap in the kilt.
Also check out Ian Rankin, Iain Banks and Alexander McCall Smith.
Film & TV Set in Scotland
Outlander – a WW2 nurse goes back in time to 1743 to an age of clansmen, Red Coats, highland dress, battle, bloodshed and romance.
Trainspotting – rough, real, packed with loss, abuse, banter, friendship, addiction and humour. Obvs also a book, an Irvine Welsh classic.
Skyfall – James Bond returns to his Scottish home for an explosive finale.
Shallow Grave – the Scottish film that made you never want to rent a flat again…
Local Hero – an uplifting movie where an oil big shot realises that there’s more to life than money. [Yes, of course I’ve visited the red phone box in Pennan.]
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – ‘this should come under books!’ you may shout, but Maggie Smith brought this prim and persuasive school teacher to life in a wonderful acting role.
Brave – och, swing yer curly locks aboot wee red-haired lassie. An ace Scottish cartoon, with some fine comedians and actors providing voiceovers.
Sunshine on Leith – we can’t go to the theatre, but we can watch this gentle film about soldiers finding their voices.
Breaking the Waves – for something deep and thought-provoking channel some Scandi vibes with this Lars von Trier directed film starring Emily Watson. A challenging watch.
Mrs Brown – where the international passion for all things Scottish truly began, when Queen Victoria discovered her ‘Dear paradise in the Highlands’.
The Crown – Ok, it’s a TV series rather than a film, but the scenes shot in Scotland sum up why the Queen Mother escaped to Caithness, and Queen Elizabeth still escapes to Deeside to retreat from the world.
Can’t visit somewhere, let’s see what’s available online. This google partnership with Dumfries House reveals the beauty inside this Ayrshire house. Click here to step inside.
Another option is to follow some bloggers who speak your language, or join some Scottish Facebook groups. I (as you’ve probably noticed) run Scots2Travel, and the group Scotland with Kids, Kathi at WatchMeSee runs Wild Adventures Scotland, and Yvette from Wayfaring Kiwi runs Scotland Travel Tips. There is so much to explore online. Scotland isn’t going anywhere, and it will still be beautiful even if nothing else feels the same.