Outlander and North Carolina
BRAVE THE NEW WORLD
Episode 408 of the fourth season of the STARZ Outlander series is titled ‘Wilmington’. This is apt as Wilmington is of importance to the Outlander story as well as to North Carolina history as it was and is a center of trade and culture. In the eighteenth century is was also a main port of entry for immigrants arriving from Europe as well as from other colonies.
Wilmington is a deep water port used for the export of goods from the interior of the colony such as the naval stores (turpentine, tar and pitch) produced from River Run, as well as tobacco, cotton, rice, and indigo. Furs as well as many foodstuffs from the Backcountry were also exported providing the Piedmont and Backcountry with income. These goods were shipped across the known world.
Manufactured goods arrived from Europe through Wilmington which made for the development of a rich merchant class who attracted silversmiths, glass blowers and other craftsmen. Goods from the interior of North Carolina arrived in Wilmington for sale to its population. Wilmington was one of the markets for Jamie’s whiskey as well as Claire’s soaps and shampoo.
This vibrant trade made Wilmington attractive to pirates likeBlackbeard, Stede Bonnet (see Pirates blog) and making the town a port of call to sell goods, legally and illegally obtained. Stephen Bonnet frequents Wilmington on his many trips up and down the Atlantic coast, with dire consequences to Brianna (Drums of Autumn and Season 4, Episode 403, False Bride) as well as to himself (The Fiery Cross & A Breath of Snow and Ashes).
In addition to trade, Wilmington provided easy access for immigrants arriving from Europe as well as other colonies. Scottish and Scots-Irish merchants settled here and helped to make it into the most active commercial center during the colonial period. This allowed Wilmington to flourish becoming one of the most populated towns in the colony eventually having 150-200 houses. Most Outlander characters pass through Wilmington on their adventures. Many traveling up the Cape Fear River to the interior of North Carolina. At a dinner in Wilmington Jamie and Claire have dinner with Governor Tryon where their future opens. Brianna and Roger meet after traveling through the stones and become handfast.
Wilmington was one of two towns in colonial North Carolina where newspapers were printed. In Wilmington the ’North Carolina Gazette and Weekly Post Boy’ and ‘Cape Fear Mercury’ were published. In Outlander, newspapers play a part as it is in an article dated February 13, 1776 in ‘The Wilmington Gazette’ that the death by fire of Jamie and Claire on Fraser’s Ridge is reported. It is this article which sends Brianna and then Roger through the stones. The other town in which newspapers were published was New Bern. This is where Fergus and Marsali publish The Onion which is then merged with The Intelligencer to become L’Oignon-Intelligencer.
Wilmington is just one of the locations visited by Outlander Tours NC on small group multi-day tours where the history of colonial North Carolina is merged with the fiction of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander book series and the STARZ Outlander series where Season 4 adapts 'The Drums of Autumn' in which Jamie, Claire and others arrive and settle in North Carolina. Just as Jamie and Claire, you will explore North Carolina from the coastal plains, through the Piedmont and into the Blue Ridge.
Join us on one of our 2019 tours where we visit locations featured in the books and series. Itineraries include many of North Carolina Scottish games or historical reenactments.