The North Carolinian’s Ultimate Travel Guide To The Outlander Series
by Esme Addison
I remember when I first discovered the Outlander series.
I was living in Okinawa, Japan and worked part-time at a library on a military base. I was pregnant with my second son, a stay-at-home mom who wanted to get out of the house and be around books.
I loved working at a library, and discovering the first book in the Outlander series was like pressing my own hands against the stones and transporting myself to another place. Of course reading any book is like that – a ticket to another world – but I was immediately swept away by the grand adventure and romance – besides I’ve always loved time travel books.
I was hooked.
Reading about Scotland made me want to go there. Then fast forward many years, and the series took us to North Carolina. As a North Carolinian, I enjoyed seeing familiar places as backdrops to important plot points. Hillsborough. Wilmington. Fayetteville. The mountains. All places I know well.
I researched North Carolina history as I read the book, and it’s made both the book and tv show really come alive for me.
Going To Carolina (Scotland) In My Mind
I have an affinity for Scotland.
My college was formed by Scottish Presbyterians when two schools: the Flora MacDonald College and Presbyterian Junior College combined. Bagpipes were played every day on the grounds, a lovely haunting sound especially when you could look across the campus and see a heavy sweep of mist rising from the lake that rest in the center. And lastly, the college was located in a county called Scotland because of all the historical Scottish immigration to the area.
As such, I learned about and became very interested in Scottish history in North Carolina particularly while I was in school.
When Flora MacDonald was referenced on the show, I thought – I know all about her!
At any rate, I knew that I wanted to write about the show and North Carolina. I’m pleased with the final product, though I didn’t mean for it to be quite so long! And I must admit, I feel like I’ve written a paper for school but I think readers will find it interesting if they love the Outlander series and North Carolina history.
The Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon, is a remarkable story of love, adventure, and time-travel set against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. The book and the subsequent TV adaptation has become a worldwide phenomenon, captivating audiences with its complex characters, intricate plotlines, and historical accuracy.
Let’s delve into the history of the series as it relates to North Carolina, explore the towns mentioned in the books, and provide an itinerary for readers who want to visit every location.
Table of Contents
The Outlander series begins in 1945 when Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in the Scottish Highlands. While exploring the countryside, Claire stumbles upon a circle of standing stones and is transported back in time to 1743. She finds herself in the midst of the Jacobite rising, a historical conflict that saw Scottish clans fighting for their independence against British rule.
Throughout the series, Claire and her love interest, Jamie Fraser, navigate the tumultuous events of the 18th century, from the Battle of Culloden to the American Revolution. In the fifth book of the series, The Fiery Cross, Claire and Jamie travel to North Carolina, where they settle on a piece of land in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
North Carolina plays a significant role in the Outlander series as it is where Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger, travel back in time to warn Claire and Jamie of the dangers that await them. The North Carolina setting allows for a unique exploration of history, with references to real-life historical figures and events that shaped the state’s history.
One of the most significant historical events referenced in the Outlander series is the Battle of Alamance, which took place in May 1771.
Battle Of Alamance
The Battle of Alamance, which took place on May 16, 1771, was a significant event in North Carolina’s colonial history. The battle occurred between the colonial militia, led by Governor William Tryon, and a group of backcountry farmers, known as the Regulators, who were protesting against corruption and taxation without representation.
In Outlander, the character Jamie Fraser is in 18th-century North Carolina, where he becomes embroiled in the conflict between the Regulators and Governor Tryon’s forces. Although the Battle of Alamance is only briefly mentioned in the series, it provides an essential backdrop for understanding the political and social climate of the time.
To fully appreciate the significance of the Battle of Alamance, it is necessary to understand the context in which it occurred. North Carolina was a relatively poor and sparsely populated colony in the 18th century, with a government that was often inefficient and corrupt. The Regulators, who were mainly farmers living in the backcountry, were unhappy with the government’s policies, which they felt were unfairly burdening them with taxes and fees.
The Regulators organized themselves into a loose association, with the goal of protesting against these policies and demanding better representation in the colonial government. They held rallies and meetings, and even established their own court system, which they used to try and punish corrupt officials.
However, Governor Tryon saw the Regulators as a threat to the colonial government’s authority, and he ordered the militia to put down their protests. On May 16, 1771, the two sides met in battle at Alamance Creek, near present-day Burlington, North Carolina.
The battle was brief but intense, with both sides suffering significant casualties. The Regulators were ultimately defeated, and many were arrested and executed in the aftermath. The Battle of Alamance marked the end of the Regulator movement and signaled a shift in North Carolina’s political and social landscape.
It was one of the earliest instances of resistance to British rule in the American colonies, and it helped to pave the way for the American Revolution a few years later. It also highlighted the tensions between the wealthy coastal elites and the poor backcountry farmers, tensions that would continue to shape North Carolina’s political and social identity for years to come.
Who Were The Regulators?
The Regulators were a group of North Carolina backcountry farmers who organized themselves in the 1760s and 1770s to protest against the colonial government’s corruption and taxation policies. The Regulator movement, which reached its peak in the late 1760s, was a significant challenge to the established colonial authority and was a precursor to the American Revolution.
The origins of the Regulator movement can be traced back to the 1750s and 1760s, when many North Carolina farmers began to feel increasingly burdened by the colonial government’s taxes and fees. These farmers lived in the backcountry, far from the wealthy coastal elites who dominated the colonial government, and they felt that their concerns were not being heard.
In response to these grievances, the Regulators began to organize themselves into a loose association in the late 1760s. They held rallies and meetings, and even established their own court system, which they used to try and punish corrupt officials. The Regulators also demanded that the colonial government provide them with better representation and fairer taxation policies.
However, the colonial government, led by Governor William Tryon, saw the Regulators as a threat to their authority and power. In 1768, Tryon ordered the construction of a new courthouse in Hillsborough, which the Regulators saw as a symbol of government corruption and waste. In response, they organized a march to Hillsborough to protest against the courthouse’s construction.
The march, which took place on September 22, 1768, was a significant event in the Regulator movement’s history. It was the first time that the Regulators had organized a large-scale protest, and it showed the colonial government that they were a force to be reckoned with. Although the march did not achieve its goal of stopping the courthouse’s construction, it demonstrated the Regulators’ commitment to their cause and their willingness to challenge the colonial government’s authority.
The conflict between the Regulators and the colonial government came to a head in 1771, with the Battle of Alamance. The battle, which took place on May 16, 1771, was a brutal confrontation between the colonial militia, led by Governor Tryon, and the Regulators. Although the Regulators were ultimately defeated, the battle marked a turning point in North Carolina’s colonial history and signaled the end of the Regulator movement.
Despite their ultimate defeat, the legacy of the Regulators lives on in North Carolina’s history. They were among the first groups to challenge British authority in the American colonies, and they helped to pave the way for the American Revolution. The Regulator movement also highlighted the tensions between the wealthy coastal elites and the poor backcountry farmers, tensions that would continue to shape North Carolina’s political and social identity for years to come.
More On Governor Tryon
Governor William Tryon was a significant figure in North Carolina’s colonial history. He served as governor from 1765 to 1771, and during his tenure, he was involved in several controversial and consequential events, including the War of the Regulation and the Battle of Alamance.
Tryon was born in England in 1729 and came to North America in 1758 as a lieutenant in the British Army. He quickly rose through the ranks and became the commander of the 1st Battalion of the 1st Regiment of Foot. Tryon was known for his military prowess and his political acumen, and he was appointed governor of North Carolina in 1765.
As governor, Tryon was tasked with enforcing British authority in the colony and collecting taxes to support the British Empire’s military and economic interests. However, his efforts to do so were met with resistance from North Carolina’s backcountry farmers, who organized themselves into the Regulator movement to protest against the government’s corruption and taxation policies.
Tryon saw the Regulators as a threat to his authority and power, and he responded by deploying the colonial militia to suppress their protests. The conflict between the Regulators and the colonial government eventually led to the Battle of Alamance in 1771, which resulted in the Regulators’ defeat and the end of the movement.
Despite his controversial actions, Tryon was also responsible for several significant accomplishments during his tenure as governor. He oversaw the construction of the Governor’s Palace in New Bern, which became a symbol of British authority in North Carolina. He also established a new system of local government, which improved the administration of justice and helped to modernize the colony’s legal system.
However, Tryon’s legacy is most often associated with his role in the War of the Regulation and the Battle of Alamance. Many North Carolinians saw him as a tyrant who used his power to suppress dissent and maintain British authority in the colony. His actions were seen as a precursor to the American Revolution, which would break out a few years later.
Going To Town
The Outlander series also references several North Carolina towns, each with its unique history and significance. One of the most prominent towns mentioned in the series is Wilmington, a bustling port city that served as a hub for trade and commerce in the 18th century. Wilmington was also a hotbed of political activity, with residents actively engaged in the events leading up to the American Revolution.
While the Outlander series is primarily set in Scotland, the show’s fourth season includes several significant scenes that take place in Wilmington, North Carolina. The show’s depiction of the city during the 18th century provides a glimpse into Wilmington’s history and highlights some of its key features.
In the show, Wilmington is portrayed as a bustling port city that is home to a diverse population of settlers, traders, and sailors. The city’s riverfront is shown to be a hub of activity, with ships and boats coming and going and a bustling market selling goods from all over the world.
One of the most significant events that take place in Wilmington in the show is the meeting between Jamie and Murtagh, which takes place in a local tavern. The meeting sets off a chain of events that leads to the show’s climactic finale, which takes place in Alamance County.
Throughout the season, Wilmington is portrayed as a center of political intrigue and conflict. Governor Tryon is depicted as a powerful and controversial figure who is determined to maintain British authority in the colony, even if it means using force against his own subjects.
The show’s depiction of Wilmington highlights the city’s importance as a center of commerce and industry during the colonial period. The city’s port and riverfront are shown to be crucial to the local economy, with goods from all over the world passing through the city’s markets and warehouses.
Another town mentioned in the Outlander series is Hillsborough, which was the seat of government for the colony of North Carolina.
Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a small town with a rich history that dates back to the colonial period. The town played an important role in North Carolina’s fight for independence from British rule, and its historic downtown is filled with well-preserved buildings that offer a glimpse into the town’s past.
In the Outlander series, Hillsborough is shown as the site of the Regulator movement, which was a group of farmers and small landowners who rebelled against corrupt government officials and tax collectors in the 1760s. The Regulators sought to reform the colonial government and reduce taxes, but their efforts were met with hostility from Governor Tryon and his supporters.
The show’s portrayal of Hillsborough highlights the town’s importance as a center of political and social unrest during the colonial period. The town’s courthouse, which still stands today, was the site of several key events in the Regulator movement, including the trial and execution of six Regulator leaders in 1771.
The show’s reimagining of Hillsborough also highlights the town’s unique architectural heritage. Many of the town’s historic buildings, including the courthouse and the colonial-era homes that line its streets, have been well-preserved and offer a glimpse into the town’s past.
Cross Creek, also known as Fayetteville, North Carolina, is a small town with a history that dates back to the colonial period. The town played an important role in North Carolina’s fight for independence from British rule, and its historic downtown is filled with well-preserved buildings that offer a glimpse into the town’s past.
In the Outlander series, Cross Creek is shown as a bustling town that serves as a hub of activity and commerce in the 18th century. The show’s depiction of the town highlights its importance as a center of trade and industry during the colonial period, with its port and riverfront serving as a key gateway to the rest of the colony.
The town’s unique culture and heritage are also on display in the show, with scenes set in local taverns and meeting places showcasing the town’s lively social scene and close-knit community.
One of the most significant events in the Outlander series that takes place in Cross Creek is the gathering of Scottish settlers who come to the town to hear Jamie’s plan for a rebellion against British rule. The gathering highlights the town’s importance as a center of political and social organization during the colonial period, with its taverns and public spaces serving as key meeting places for settlers seeking to build support for their cause.
Throughout the series, Cross Creek is also depicted as a center of conflict and tension, with Governor Tryon’s forces and local militias vying for control of the town and its resources.
The North Carolina mountains are a crucial component of the Outlander series, providing a scenic and historically rich backdrop for many of the story’s most memorable moments. The characters in the series find themselves embroiled in the political and social turmoil of the Revolutionary War, with the mountains serving as both a sanctuary and a battlefield. The rugged terrain and remote communities offer a distinctive setting for the characters to explore as they face new challenges and make difficult decisions.
One of the most prominent plotlines involving the NC mountains is the search for Fraser’s Ridge, the land grant bestowed upon Jamie Fraser by Governor Tryon. Fraser’s Ridge, located in the western part of the state, becomes a haven for the Fraser family and their allies as they navigate the treacherous political climate of the time. It also serves as a place of healing and rejuvenation, with Claire using the natural remedies found in the surrounding wilderness to treat wounds and illnesses.
In addition to the search for Fraser’s Ridge, the Outlander series also delves into the complex relationship between the European settlers and the Cherokee people. The Cherokee played a significant role in the region’s history, and their presence is felt throughout the story. The characters interact with the Cherokee in a variety of ways, from negotiating alliances to engaging in battle. Having a great-great-grandmother who was full blooded Cherokee and from these very mountains, I was particularly interested in the stories surrounding the Native Americans in the series.
One particular group that is highlighted in the series is the Overmountain Men. While I had heard of the Regulators before I read the series, these men were new to me.
These were the men who fought in the Battle of Kings Mountain, a pivotal event in the Revolutionary War that took place in the mountains of western North Carolina. The Overmountain Men were a group of militia volunteers who came together to fight against the British Army and their Loyalist allies. Their victory at Kings Mountain marked a turning point in the war and helped secure American independence.
The Overmountain Men
During the American Revolution, the North Carolina mountains were the site of a crucial battle between the British and American forces. At the time, the region was largely inhabited by settlers who had crossed the Appalachian Mountains and made a new life for themselves in the frontier. These settlers, known as the Overmountain Men, would prove to be instrumental in the war effort and helped turn the tide of the Revolutionary War.
The Overmountain Men were a group of frontiersmen who lived in the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding areas, including modern-day North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. They were so-called because they lived west of the Appalachian Mountains, which were then considered the westernmost boundary of the British colonies. The Overmountain Men were fiercely independent and self-reliant, and many of them had migrated to the area to escape the British government’s regulations and taxes.
In the fall of 1780, the British Army launched an invasion of the southern colonies with the goal of crushing the rebellion once and for all. They captured Charleston, South Carolina, and defeated American forces in several battles, including the Battle of Camden in August. With much of the southern colonies under British control, the British commander, General Cornwallis, believed he had effectively won the war.
However, the Overmountain Men had other ideas. They rallied together and formed a militia to defend their homes and communities from the British invasion. Led by Colonel William Campbell, the Overmountain Men marched eastward to join forces with other American militia groups.
On October 7, 1780, the two sides met at Kings Mountain, near the border of North and South Carolina. The Overmountain Men were heavily outnumbered and outgunned by the British, who had superior weapons and training. However, the Overmountain Men used their knowledge of the terrain to their advantage and launched a surprise attack on the British troops.
The Battle of Kings Mountain was a decisive victory for the Americans. The Overmountain Men killed or captured nearly the entire British force, including the commander, Major Patrick Ferguson. The victory was a turning point in the Revolutionary War and is often credited with paving the way for American independence.
The North Carolina Mountains played a crucial role in the Battle of Kings Mountain, as the Overmountain Men used the rugged terrain to their advantage. The battle took place in what is now the western part of North Carolina, near the border with Tennessee. The Overmountain Men traveled from all over the region to join the fight, including from places like present-day Boone, Morganton, and other small mountain communities.
The Battle Of King’s Mountain
The Battle of King’s Mountain was a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War, and it took place in the North Carolina mountains on October 7, 1780. The battle was a major victory for the Patriot forces and helped turn the tide of the war in their favor.
The battle was fought between the Patriot and Loyalist forces, with each side vying for control of the region. The Patriot forces were made up of backcountry settlers, including many Overmountain Men, who had been organizing and preparing for a confrontation with the Loyalists for some time.
The Loyalist forces were led by British Major Patrick Ferguson, who had been tasked with securing the region and suppressing any potential uprisings. Ferguson was a skilled commander and had been successful in his previous campaigns, but he underestimated the strength and determination of the Patriot forces.
The two sides clashed on the slopes of King’s Mountain, a prominent landmark in the area. The battle was brutal and intense, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. However, the Patriot forces were ultimately able to gain the upper hand and force the Loyalists to surrender.
The victory at King’s Mountain was significant for several reasons. First and foremost, it dealt a major blow to the British and Loyalist forces in the region, which had been gaining ground and suppressing Patriot activity. It also boosted the morale of the Patriot forces and inspired other backcountry settlers to join the fight.
The battle also had broader implications for the Revolutionary War as a whole. It demonstrated the effectiveness of irregular warfare tactics and showed that the Patriots could hold their own against trained British soldiers. It also helped convince the French to provide much-needed support to the Patriot cause, which would prove crucial in securing the eventual victory.
Today, the site of the Battle of King’s Mountain is a National Military Park, (located a few miles across the NC border in South Carolina) and visitors can explore the battlefield and learn more about this important moment in American history. The battle serves as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of the Patriot forces and their determination to fight for their freedom and independence.
Tryon Palace is a historic site located in New Bern, North Carolina, that served as the official residence of Royal Governor William Tryon during the colonial period. The palace, which was completed in 1770, is a stunning example of Georgian-style architecture and has been carefully restored to its original grandeur.
In the Outlander series, Tryon Palace is depicted as a center of political power and intrigue during the colonial period. Governor Tryon, who was known for his authoritarian rule and close ties to the British Crown, is portrayed as a key antagonist in the series, with many of the characters seeking to undermine his authority and influence.
The palace itself is portrayed as a symbol of British colonial power, with its elegant interiors and lavish furnishings serving as a stark contrast to the harsh realities of life for many North Carolina settlers. The palace’s ornate gardens and courtyards are also featured prominently in the series, with scenes set in these idyllic spaces serving as a reminder of the stark inequalities that existed in colonial North Carolina.
Throughout the series, Tryon Palace is also portrayed as a center of conflict and rebellion, with the palace’s residents and visitors often caught up in the political and social upheaval of the times. The palace’s central role in the story of North Carolina’s fight for independence is highlighted in the series, with scenes set in its grand halls and elegant ballrooms serving as a reminder of the high stakes of the struggle for freedom and self-determination.
The Outlander Itinerary
For readers who want to explore the locations mentioned in the Outlander series, we have created an itinerary that covers all the towns and historic buildings referenced in the books.
Start your trip in Wilmington, North Carolina, and explore the historic downtown area, which includes many well-preserved buildings from the colonial period. Visit the Burgwin-Wright House, which served as the home of a prominent Wilmington family during the late 18th century and was featured in the Outlander series.
Head to Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson, a historic site that served as a center of British colonial power during the American Revolution. The site includes well-preserved ruins of colonial-era buildings and offers insight into the struggles and sacrifices of the era.
Travel to Hillsborough, North Carolina, and visit the Orange County Courthouse, which was a center of political activity during the colonial period and is featured prominently in the Outlander series.
Explore the town of Hillsborough and visit the Ayr Mount Plantation, a historic site that was owned by a Scottish settler and offers a glimpse into the lives of wealthy plantation owners during the colonial era.
Head to New Bern, North Carolina, and visit Tryon Palace, the official residence of Royal Governor William Tryon during the colonial period. The palace offers a stunning example of Georgian-style architecture and has been carefully restored to its original grandeur.
Explore the charming historic downtown area of New Bern, which includes many well-preserved buildings from the colonial period and offers a glimpse into the daily lives of North Carolina settlers during the era.
Travel to Cross Creek (modern-day Fayetteville), North Carolina, and explore the town’s historic downtown area, which includes many well-preserved buildings from the colonial period. Visit the Market House, a historic building that served as a center of commerce and trade during the era and is featured prominently in the Outlander series.
Head to the Averasboro Battlefield & Museum, a historic site that played an important role in the American Civil War and offers insight into the region’s military history.
Take a journey to the North Carolina Mountains, which play a significant role in the Outlander series. Frasar’s Ridge, the setting for the Fraser family’s homestead, was based on the real-life town of Boone. Marvel at the beauty of Linville Falls, a natural waterfall that was also featured in the show as a location where Claire and Jamie take a moment of respite and appreciation for the natural beauty around them.
Visit Morganton, located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Jamie and Claire attend a gathering of mountain men during the American Revolution. Travel to the Kings Mountain National Military Park. The park offers exhibits, guided tours, and a visitor center that provides a deeper understanding of the battle and its significance. Lastly, immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Cherokee people at the Cherokee Museum in Cherokee, NC. These locations provide a glimpse into the history and beauty of the North Carolina Mountains as depicted in the Outlander series.
This itinerary offers just a taste of the many fascinating historic sites and locations that are related to the era in which the Outlander series is set.
From colonial-era buildings and plantations to military battlefields and political centers, North Carolina offers a wealth of opportunities for history fans to explore and connect with the rich history of the state and experience the Outlander series in a new way.