Monty Python And The Holy Grail | 1975
King Arthur and his men, accompanied by their trusty coconut shells, undertake a quest to find the Holy Grail – and the result is a triumph over limited budgeting. One look at the Pythonesque script and the authorities looking after the nation’s heritage got an attack of cold feet.
Fortunately, the privately-owned Doune Castle, a 14th century fortification on the A84, about ten miles northwest of Stirling, was up for the challenge.
The use of, basically, a single location necessitated a bit of imagination, with Doune standing in for almost every castle seen in the film.
“It’s only a model" mumbles Patsy as the knights first set eyes on Camelot. The interior, though, with the Knights of the Round Table musical number, is Doune’s Great Hall, utilising every door, window and nook. “No, on second thoughts, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”
The exterior supplies the walls of Guy de Loimbard’s castle, from which the knights are taunted by the French guard (“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries”).
And the ingenious, but sadly empty, giant Wooden Rabbit is wheeled up to the Castle’s entrance.
Inside, you’ll recognise ‘Castle Anthrax’, where Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) is rescued from Zoot, Midget, Crapper and the rest of the young blondes and brunettes all between 16 and 19-and-a-half.
Away from Scotland for a brief moment – there’s the tiniest glimpse of Bodiam Castle, a medieval fortress near Robertsbridge in East Sussex., standing in as the exterior of ‘Swamp Castle’. A little bit more of Bodiam was seen in the 1955 costume romp The Adventures of Quentin Durward.
Unlike many heritage locations, which are coy about their connection with popular culture, Doune Castle is happily proud of its association. It needs to be, considering the number of people who turn up with their own coconut shells for that once-in-a-lifetime video opportunity. The gift shop stocks not only Python books and DVDs, but it’s the place to pick up that bottle bottle of Monty Python’s Holy Ale you’ve always wanted (“Tempered over burning witches”).
The ‘Bridge of Death’ crosses a gorge at the Meeting of Three Waters, where the mountain waterfalls become the River Coe in Glen Coe.
The ‘Castle of Aaargh’, the island castle where the Grail supposedly resides, turns out to be Castle Stalker, at Appin, Argyll and Bute, about 20 miles north of Oban. The 15th century stronghold is a quarter of a mile from the shore of Loch Linhe and occasionally open to the public subject to tides and weather.