Friday Fun Facts - 7/20/2012

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books. This is a special edition focusing on facts related to my recent trip to Scotland. (Look here for my detailed account of that trip.)

Please note: I didn't take any of these photos myself. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

1) We had a very quick glimpse of some red deer in a field, but I didn't get a chance to take a photo, so I found this photo of a red stag online. (Photo credit: saxman1597 on Flickr.) Jamie's hair is sometimes described as "the color of a red deer's pelt", and I think you can see that very well from this photo.
"Be still, roy.” Frowning with concentration, she picked up a comb and teased out the tangles, leaving a smooth, shining mass of auburn, copper, cinnamon, and gold, all gleaming together in the morning sun from the window. Jenny spread it in her hands, shaking her head over it.

“I canna think why the good Lord should waste hair like that on a man,” she remarked. “Like a red-deer’s pelt, in places.”

“It is wonderful isn’t it?” I agreed. “Look, where the sun’s bleached it on top, he’s got those lovely blond streaks.” The object of our admiration glowered up at us.

“If ye both dinna stop it, I shall shave my head."

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 31, "Quarter Day". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
For more information about Scotland's red deer, look here.

2) I mentioned in one of my blog posts about my trip to Scotland that the tour included an OUTLANDER trivia contest. One of the harder questions on that list was, "What are Claire's parents' names?"

Claire's father's name is mentioned a couple of times during the course of the series. Here's Jamie at the Gathering in THE FIERY CROSS:
"Thig a seo!” he called, putting out his right hand to me. “Thig a seo, a Shorcha, nighean Eanruig, neart mo chridhe.” Come to me, he said. Come to me, Claire, daughter of Henry, strength of my heart. Scarcely feeling my feet or those I stumbled over, I made my way to him, and clasped his hand, his grip cold but strong on my fingers.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 15, "The Flames of Declaration". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

But what about Claire's mother? She's hardly mentioned in the OUTLANDER books at all, and as far as I know, there's only one reference to her name, in the Beauchamp family tree in the OUTLANDISH COMPANION, page 207, where Claire's parents are listed as Henry Montmorency Beauchamp and Julia Moriston. [UPDATE 7/20/2012 8:54 am: thanks to an alert reader of this blog, LydGaff, who pointed out that Claire's parents' names are also mentioned in the discussion of blood types in THE FIERY CROSS. I'd forgotten all about that.]

(The image above is similar to the Beauchamp coat of arms found on p. 206 of the OC.)

3) This is Castle Leod, the ancestral home of the MacKenzie clan. I didn't actually get to see it on the tour, as it turned out not to be feasible for someone with limited mobility, but it looks remarkably similar to the sketch of Castle Leoch on page 343 of the OUTLANDISH COMPANION.

I have always been fascinated by Diana's story of how her mental picture of Castle Leoch turned out to bear a strong resemblance to the real Castle Leod, which she didn't even know existed at the time she wrote OUTLANDER.
Among the scenes of Highland beauty and massed MacKenzies, were several photographs of the clan seat--Castle Leod.

“You’re kidding!” I said, seeing this. “You mean there is a place called Leod?”

They were surprised at this, having assumed that I not only knew about Castle Leod, but had seen it, since the description in Outlander matched the reality so well.

“Well, I have seen it,” I said. “But not in a photograph.”

Since the reality had so abruptly popped up in front of me, though, it seemed unnecessary to go on constructing the imaginary version, and so I asked the McKenzies’ permission--graciously granted--to use their photographs of the Real Thing.

(From THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "Lallybroch". Copyright© 1999 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Oban & Fort William Road Sign

4) I was fascinated by the Gaelic-English road signs throughout the Highlands. (Photo credit: Hagfelsh on Flickr.) In particular, the Gaelic name for Fort William, "An Gearasdan", seems very close to the English word "garrison". According to my friend Cathy MacGregor, the locals referred to it simply as "the garrison" because the fort was named after William, Duke of Cumberland, aka "Butcher Billy", and they didn't want to speak his name. Not that I can blame them!
"They called him 'Butcher Billy.'" Roger gestured at the Duke, stolid in white knee breeches and gold-braided coat. “For excellent reason. Aside from what they did here"--he waved toward the expanse of the spring-green moor outside, dulled by the lowering sky--"Cumberland’s men were responsible for the worst reign of English terror ever seen in the Highlands. They chased the survivors of the battle back into the hills, burning and looting as they went. Women and children were turned out to starve, and the men shot down where they stood--with no effort to find out whether they’d ever fought for Charlie. One of the Duke’s contemporaries said of him, 'He created a desert and called it peace'--and I’m afraid the Duke of Cumberland is still rather noticeably unpopular hereabouts."

(From DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4, "Culloden". Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) We were in Scotland at the time of the "summer dim". The sun rose before 4:30 am, and didn't set until well after 10 pm. I never did go outside in the middle of the night to see what the sky looked like <g>, but I do remember waking up once, around 4:30 am, and thinking how strange it was to see light coming in the window at that hour.
"It was summer. Ye'll ken the summer in the Highlands, Sassenach--the summer dim?"

I nodded. The summer dim was the light of the Highland night, early in summer.  So far to the north, the sun barely set on Midsummer's Eve; it would disappear below the horizon, but even at midnight, the sky was pale and milky white, and the air was not dark, but seemed filled with unearthly mist.

The prison governor took advantage of the light, now and then, to work the prisoners into the late hours of the evening.

"We didna mind so much," Jamie said. His eyes were open, but fixed on whatever he was seeing in the summer dim of memory. "It was better to be outside than in. And yet, by the evening, we would be so droukit wi' fatigue that we could barely set one foot before the other. It was like walking in a dream."

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 95, "The Summer Dim". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here is a photo I found online that illustrates what the "summer dim" in Scotland looks like.

Edinburgh Summer Night 3

Midnight in Edinburgh, June 25, 2001. (Photo credit: Martin Third on Flickr)

Looking at this photo, it's hard to believe that it was taken so late at night!

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!


LydGaff said...

Re: Claire's Parents: The Fiery Cross, page 1250, Claire draws a quick chart for Roger showing how she inherited Type A blood from her father Henry, (Type O)and her mother, Julia (Type A or AB).

Thanks for all you do....always enjoyable! L

Karen Henry said...

Ah, thanks for pointing that out! I have to admit that the discussion of blood types in that chapter makes my eyes glaze over (especially listening to it in the audio version), so I never consciously noticed that before.


Christiane said...

Dear Karen, the FFF are back!great job you did, as usual. I completely forgot Claire's parents'names.. All the pictures are wonderful,love the ones of the "Summer dim" (same in St-Petersburgh-the "white nights"or Norway, all these countries up North).Good week-end,hello from Greece.

Anonymous said...


What a marvelous addition to the description of your trip!


bvrooks said...

Love your blog Karen! We have the same summer dim in Alberta, especially close to the Rockies where I am. We don't get full dark for most of the month June!


Carolyn W. said...

Hello Karen. Love your blog! I was in Ireland and England over the summer and thought I was going crazy a few times... waking up with the sunlight coming in the window then glancing over at the nightstand clock to see it wasn't even 5 a.m. By the time the sunset comes, dinner's long over. Throws off one's internal clock a bit!

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