‘Men in Kilts’: Sam & Graham Explore the History of the ‘Outlander’ Clans (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 7 of Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham, “Clans & Tartans.”]
Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham is delving into the history of Scottish clans in its latest outing as Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish aim to settle some long-standing feuds and enlighten themselves on the origin stories of those who inspired their Outlander characters.
The clans play a large role in Scotland’s history and as Outlander viewers know, they are integral to the fabric of Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser’s (Heughan) story. Kicking off the episodreale, Sam and Graham discuss the importance of clans, a large group of people with family ties and led by chiefs. Though practicing clans lost power of Scotland during the Jacobite uprising in 1745, they are still important to the culture today.
Sam and Graham meet up with members of well-known clans, beginning with the MacLeods and MacDonalds. Convening at the Isle of Skye’s Trumpan Church, they listen to Ian MacLeod and John MacDonald who detail the history behind a brutal feud between their clans.
Both clans have Viking origins, and they would often fight about who had the more heroic or powerful founder. One day, the MacLeods planned to smoke the MacDonalds out of their area by setting fire in a tunnel, but the action ultimately backfired when the men were killed. In retaliation, the MacDonalds set fire to the Trumpan Church, killing several of the MacLeods.
Still, Sam and Graham are able to get Ian and John to shake hands before they depart for their next stop. Taking a light-hearted break, Sam and Graham enjoy a tandem bicycle ride before heading to the Prickly Thistle, a mill where tartans are made.
As the episode is titled “Clans & Tartans,” it only makes sense that the men would learn more about the significance behind these plaid designs. Each clan has its own unique tartan pattern, and Prickly Thistle founder Clare Campbell tours Sam and Graham around the mill, explaining how the fabrics are made.
In a nod to Outlander‘s first season, the men sit with the Badenoch Waulking Group, who explain the weather-proofing process, and just like Claire did on the show, Sam and Graham sing and handle the material in order to strengthen it. After bidding the ladies adieu, Sam and Graham rush off to learn about another clan feud, this time between the MacGregors and the MacLarens.
In Balquhidder, Sam and Graham meet MacGregor representative Peter John Lawrie and MacLaren clan member Donald MacLaren at the reported grave site of Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor.
The dueling clans have two different versions of a similar story. The MacGregor side recounts a battle between their clan and the MacLarens which left Rob Roy fatally injured. The MacGregors believe Rob Roy is buried on MacLaren land, but Donald McLaren says that his clan doesn’t believe Rob Roy is buried there. After all, why would an opposing clan allow Roy to lay in rest there? This clan gathering didn’t end in handshakes, but it was amicable enough.
It’s then an exciting moment for Graham, as he and Sam travel by plane to Castle Sween, the ancestral home of the MacTavishes and considered the oldest stone castle in Scotland. The men are surprised to learn the regal structure now stands amid a caravan park, which leads to some jokes cracked by Sam at Graham’s expense.
Paying respects to his character Jamie Fraser, Sam brings Graham to Beaufort Castle, the dwelling of the Fraser clan. Meeting clan rep Sarah Fraser, the men listen to the history of the family, including their ties to the MacKenzies and Murrays, both of whom play a prominent role in Outlander.
The castle itself is far nicer than Sween, but that’s due in part to the fact that Beaufort was rebuilt during the Victorian era. It feels only right that the men close out this episode with a feast fit for a clan chief and wash it down with a dram of whiskey.
Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham, Sundays, 9/8c, Starz