Scotland, Outlander & North Carolina

It’s no surprise, as a Scotland based company, that some of us are huge fans of Outlander, the Starz series set in Scotland that focuses on Jamie, a Highland warrior, and Claire, a nurse who accidentally travels back in time to 1743. It’s been a tough journey for Jamie and Claire and with the newest season coming out in just a few days, we can’t wait to see what happens next!

This upcoming season brings Jamie and Claire to America and specifically to North Carolina. We love that they have chosen North Carolina for the story setting as there is historical evidence of many Highland Scots immigrating to North Carolina during that time.

In 1739, the Royal Governor of North Carolina, born in Scotland, began offering incentives for Scots to immigrate to his colony, including tax exemptions. This was especially appealing to Highland Scots, who were unable to purchase land at home and struggling to put themselves back together after their loss against England in Culloden in 1745, which we see on the show.

Many Scotsmen sailed into Wilmington, as it was the easiest port of entry from Scotland to North Carolina at the time. Most chose to set up their homes in the Upper Cape Fear River area near the coast so they wouldn’t have to travel far after they arrived. The Lower area of the Cape Fear River had already been claimed by British colonists, who the Scots did not want to compete with for land or power, especially after their recent defeat at the hands of the British. Eventually, through trade and expanding their cattle farms, their settling area spread to the Lower Cape Fear River region.

Most continued to speak Gaelic but were also fluent in English. Prominent Scots, including James Campbell, established a number of churches in the region, some of which are still standing. Church services in the area were conducted in both languages, with most hymns sung only in Gaelic. A Gaelic press in Fayetteville was established and sold books in many local stores.They raised cows, sheep and pigs and concentrated on wheat and corn crops.

During the American Revolutionary War, most Highland Scots began as Loyalists, believing England should keep control of America. By 1776, after numerous losses, over 400 Scotsmen signed allegiance to the new American government. After the Revolution, some Scots remained in North Carolina and Scottish culture remained strong in Eastern North Carolina through the Civil War although  the Gaelic language began to fade from vocabulary, before disappearing completely.

Today, many still celebrate their Scottish heritage in North Carolina, thanks to Scottish Heritage Centers like The Argyll Colony and St. Andrews University. Every year, 34,000 people travel to Grandfather Mountain to celebrate their heritage at the Highland Games, where they have traditional music, food and competitions.

This Sunday tune in to Starz at 7pm EST to see the premier of season 4 of Outlander! What do you hope will happen to Jamie and Claire in their new home this season?