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Outlander author backs campaign to save Castle Leod

Outlander author backs campaign to save Castle Leod

She's the author of the phenomenally successful "Outlander" series of books, which have just been turned into a television series.

But Diana Gabaldon isn't just interested in romantic notions from the past. Instead, she has backed a campaign to revive and restore Castle Leod, near Strathpeffer.

The prolific American writer had previously planted a rowan tree in the gardens of the 700-year-old building, which has seen better days.

And she has backed an initiative by Lord Mackenzie, the current clan chief, to raise around £3m to keep the castle intact, even as it attracts more visitors.

The 63-year-old has been in England and France this week and made it clear she wants to help her Scottish colleagues.

As the patron of the castle, she has used it as a fictional location - Castle Leoch - in her best-selling series of books, which have sold more than 20 million copies.

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Yet she doesn't want it to go the way of other dilapidated ruins.

Ms Gabaldon said recently: "I have been impressed by the heroic efforts to preserve only the most visible public areas, let alone keep the rest of the place from falling apart around the Mackenzie ears.

"The problems of repairing a castle rather dwarf the usual home maintenance.

"It [the repair work] could keep a fix-it show on television running for years.

"Hundreds of years of intense history have taken their toll."

Lord Mackenzie has applied for a restoration grant from Historic Scotland, but there are limited funds and Castle Leod requires an urgent upgrade.

He told The Times: "This isn't just some rich man's toy, it's the heartland of a clan.

"So I feel a great responsibility not to let it fall to the ground. We'll never build places like this again; you can't make heritage, it's unique."

The TV version of Outlander is being screened on Amazon Prime. But there are already calls for a film franchise on similar lines to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

If that materialises, a small subscription from viewers would quickly raise the funds needed to prevent Castle Leod from slipping into obsolescence.

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