Blending history and romance at Beauly Priory

Situated on the edge of a popular Highland town centre the ruins of Beauly Priory remain a stunning relic of times long gone.

It is one of just three built in Scotland around 1230 for monks belonging to the little-known French order of Valliscaulian but only the abbey church remains.

  • Full feature in Issue No.15

Today Beauly Priory is a popular destination for visitors. Many are attracted by its historic links while others by its starring role in the romantic Outlander books and television series – it’s the location where the heroine Claire is supposed to have met with the seer Maisri.

The blending of truth and fiction is further strengthened by the fact that in reality Beauly was the traditional burial ground for the chiefs of Clan Fraser of which the fictional Jamie Fraser is related.

In addition to the Fraser connections the remaining north transept of the priory was rebuilt in 1901 by the architect Alexander Ross as a mausoleum for the Mackenzie family – another real-life historic link to the fictional Outlander saga.

The haunting historic ruins of Beauly Priory at Beauly near Inverness, Scotland

Photograph by: Gerry McCannBeauly Priory

Much of the surrounding area is steeped in clan history. While the Lovat Frasers dominated the village, with their home at nearby Beaufort Castle, the Chisholms owned the land on the north side of the River Beauly, which they oversaw from Erchless Castle, and the Mackenzies ruled the area north of Beauly.

The priory, which is open all year round, remains the main attraction for visitors to Beauly although there is plenty else to see and do in the surrounding area. The River Beauly is a favourite for anglers fishing for salmon while the village makes a great base for walkers, golfers and cyclists to enjoy some of the most idyllic scenery in Scotland.

A longer report with photographs and further details of the priory can be found in Issue 15 of Scotland Correspondent magazine.