The 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. The film was the comedy troupe’s first ‘proper’ feature film, consisting of a whole new story centred on the Legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The film was largely filmed on location in Scotland, utilising the fantastic historical sites and breathtaking scenery to great effect as the backdrop to the farcical and surreal humour. Thanks to shooting on location rather than building sets, even 40 years later, people can still enjoy recreating all their favourite scenes on the very same sites as the original. Here are a list of some of the most famous locations from the film.
“One day all this will be yours.” “What the curtains?”
Doune Castle – scene of many unforgettable moments, such as the the French Taunters and the Wedding Scene at Swamp Castle. Fortunately, the castle has not sunk into a swamp! As well as Monty Python, the castle was also used as the Winterfell location in Game of Thrones, and in Outlander.
History: The oldest parts of the castle date to the 13th Century. It was the home of Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, who was an important historical figure in Scotland, effectively ruling the country from 1388 until his death.
Parking is available outside and there is a lot of information for visitors available inside. Located around twenty minutes from Stirling, the castle is open daily from 9.30, with tickets costing £5.50 for an adult, £3.50 for children (at time of writing). More information can be found here: https://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/propertyresults/propertyoverview.htm?PropID=PL_092
“Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade!”
Tomnadashan Mine, Loch Tay – the Cave of Caerbannog, infamous lair of the “Killer Rabbit”, can be found at the site of an abandoned mine nearby the village of Killin.
History: During the 20th Century, John Campbell, 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane excavated the mine, searching for a fortune in gold and copper. You might still be able to see traces of copper in the walls of the mine, but unfortunately no evidence of gold.
The site is not a visitor attraction, but is accessible through a gate. You can walk up to the mine and take pictures outside. Be careful if you are wishing to enter the mine though as it is deep and there may be loose stone.
“What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
Glen Coe – With its majestic mountains rising on either side, this is the perfect location for an epic scene. This was the location of the Bridge of Death, seen near the end of the film. As well as Monty Python, the glen has also been used for a number of films in the Harry Potter series (the site of Hagrid’s Hut, the Forbidden Forest and various outdoor shots of Hogwarts can be seen, though the sets have been removed).
History: Glen Coe is perhaps most well-known for the massacre that occurred here in 1692, when members of Clan MacDonald were murdered by a group who had accepted their hospitality. The reason for the killing is said to be the unwillingness of the MacDonald’s to accept the new monarchs William and Mary.
The drive through Glen Coe follows the A82 with the village of Glen Coe at the north western end by the shores of Loch Leven.
Bracklin Falls, Callander – These waterfalls just north of the popular tourist town of Callander, along the walk known as the Callander Crags, are formed where the earth crosses the Highland Boundary Fault (the geographic distinction between the highlands and lowlands). A new 20m wood and copper footbridge was placed across the gorge in 2010, replacing the previous bridge which had been brought down in a storm. The walk up to Bracklin falls is easily accessed. Find more information about the walk here: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochlomond/callander-craig.shtml
“Get on with it!”
Sherriff Muir, Stirling – Dumyat Hill, nearby the village of Bridge of Allan, was the location used for the final “battle” of the film, with students from the nearby University of Stirling standing in as extras. The hill is also the location for an annual hill race.
Castle Stalkier – The final castle seen in the film, at the end of their long quest. Built around 1320, this castle sits in a striking location in Loch Laich. The castle is privately owned, running a number of tours every year. Please check this site for details: https://www.castlestalker.com/wp/