The house of the Lairds of Broch Tuarach stands empty.
Littered with weeds and overshadowed by a row of unkempt trees, the gravel driveway leads beneath a crumbling stone arch to the 18th century tower house beyond. Five-stories high, extended and much altered, the house is perched upon a slight rise, allowing for it to overlook the green fields and distant mountains that surround it.
The slate roof is mostly intact, although some tiles have slid enough to let in the rain and the occasional family of swallows. The windows are boarded up from within, the glass caked in layers of dirt and moss on both sides. Grass grows up around the steps that lead to the front door, the wood splintered and aged by the bombardment of the Scottish weather.
It has stood for three-hundred years, the home of Clan Fraser.
Except that no Fraser has lived there for nearly fifty years.
In fact, no one has.
Abandoned and forgotten, Lallybroch has been left to the mercy of the elements and the TV production companies. As it slowly goes to ruin, tourists flock up the drive to have their pictures taken with ‘that place that was used in that popular TV programme that one time’. They pay a small amount of money to the elderly woman who sits in the garden shed at the end of the drive, a printed sign behind her head reading All Monies Raised Go Towards the Upkeep of The Tower. And some probably do.
These visitors are not allowed any closer than the stone arch, where a heavy wooden gate bars their way. They climb and stretch up in the vain hope of seeing beyond. They carve their initials into the gate and stone, place charms and letters and pressed flowers into the grooves and splits and cracks, hoping to leave a part of themselves to memory and time. To be part of the story.
For Lallybroch has always been a bastion of stories and secrets.
If anyone takes a walk down to the nearby village of Broch Mordha, they might hear some of them. If they wander into the Drovers Inn and take a seat by the fire, it is likely that someone will start to tell the tales. Of lights moving behind the shutters and boarded windows late into the night. Of echoes of laughter that can be heard rising from the basement rooms along with the aroma of freshly baked bread. Of the faint scent of fragrant herbs that lingers by the gate and along the cobbled yard, despite no herbs growing there. Of a sudden cooling of temperatures, even on the hottest of days, that leaves goose bumps and chills shivering down the spine.
Perhaps even the story of a young English woman, who had moved to the village with her uncle in order to be a healer.
Who went out to pick herbs one morning and was never seen or heard of again.
Because people disappear all the time.
It was snowing on the day the last Laird Broch Tuarach, Jamie Fraser, drove his car from Edinburgh to finally claim his inheritance.