The 600-Year-Old Pub Saved By Outlander Fans

If you ever wanted to travel back in time but thought it was impossible, try visiting the little Scottish village of Culross situated in the county of Fife on the banks of the North Sea estuary. You will certainly feel as if you've left the modern era. It's easy to imagine what it might have been like back in the 15th century as you wander among cobble-stoned streets with various colored stuccoed houses on either side. If you climb toward Culross Palace and turn in the manicured gardens, you can see over the red-tiled rooftops towards the water and believe this is a similar view to the one Sir George Bruce of Carnock had when it was completed for him in 1611.

Of course, while these large houses were important to town life, one could argue that the most critical establishments are those of the community — such as the town pubs. Culross originally had two pubs amongst its approximately 400 inhabitants, but one was sold to developers several years back. The remaining Red Lion Inn has been the center of the community and a major source of employment for locals for many years. When the owners finally decided to retire, the town was left with a dilemma: could they raise the fund to keep the pub in the community or would it again be sold to someone who didn't care about heritage and community? 

Outlander fans to the rescue

Lucky for the town, Culross is most recognizable to people all over the world as one of the filming locations of the Starz series "Outlander," and this is one of the reasons that it managed to stay out of the hands of developers. The series is based on Diana Gabaldon's historical novels and follows protagonist Claire Randall, a WW2 nurse who travels back in time to Scotland in 1743. If you're a fan of the show, you'll recognize various buildings from the first season of the show — especially the exterior of Geillis Duncan's house and the square where the witch trial took place.

However, to the people who currently live in the town the Red Lion Inn means something much more than just a drinking establishment. Timothy Collins, a member of Cullross Community Benefits Society said, "A pub is not just a pub ... it's a community center ... you meet your pals there ... you swap ideas there, you draw out plans." Plus, "It's the largest employer in the area." The society started a Crowdfunder to raise the money needed to employ someone to professionally run the pub and keep it in the community. They offered shares where buyers would "automatically become members of the society."

Bar manager, Conner Patterson said, "Being a small village there's a real community atmosphere, it's just a real sort of hub that everybody gathers around." After 95 days on the Crowdfunder site, the society managed to raise £83,090 "with 213 investors in 95 days."

The Red Lion Inn in Culross today

A local tour guide, Andy the Highlander of Highlander: Outlander Tours, told Mashed, "Many of the shares were bought by international tourists from all over the world, including many 'Outlander' fans, who I have personally brought to experience the Red Lion. The pub is now leased by Mike and Andrena, who employ 28 local staff." 

Red Lion Inn landlord, Mike Brown, the person who instigated the crowdfunding campaign, confirmed that most of the donations came from Americans and "Outlander" fans. He told the Daily Record, "When it was decided to do the buyout, I was asked if I would be interested in leasing it as I'd worked there 24 years. We managed to secure the funding and took over on July 4."

For such a small town, the pub is a pretty busy locale because of all the tour groups that come through there frequently. Andy the Highlander says that groups can come through the area "seven days a week in the busy season."

Whether you're a fan of the Starz series or not, the quaint town is worth a visit for its picturesque old-world Scottish charm. Andy the Highlander also said that the food in the Red Lion is "all exceptional" and, "the steak pie is without a shadow of a doubt, the very best steak pie in Scotland. The sticky toffee pudding is also a must!"