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19 famous faces with links to the Highlands

Musicians, Oscar winners, mega-billionaires and legendary comedians make our list.

The allure of the Highlands is not lost on the rich and powerful of the world. Image: DC Thomson/William Conran/ PA Wire.
The allure of the Highlands is not lost on the rich and powerful of the world. Image: DC Thomson/William Conran/ PA Wire.

The natural beauty and breath-taking landscape of the Highlands creates and attracts famous faces, from musicians to megastars to mega-billionaires.

Scotland’s north has enticed millions of tourists with its deep lochs, rugged mountains and sweeping countryside, and the allure is not lost on the rich and powerful from all over the world.

Here are some of the most notable people with links to the Highlands.

Karen Gillan
Inverness’s Karen Gillan. Photo by Broadimage/Shutterstock.

Karen Gillan

Arguably the most famous person born in the Highland capital of Inverness, Karen Gillan has become a household name.

Her stint as Amy Pond in Doctor Who catapulted her to worldwide stardom and she has since starred in the blockbuster superhero series, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Tilda Swinton, who recently purchased a house in Nairn, in the Highlands
Tilda Swinton last year purchased a home in Nairn. Image: Shutterstock.

Tilda Swinton

Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton bought a home in Nairn last year and lives there with her partner and children.

She is perhaps most known for her role as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia series and the Ancient One in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Shirley Henderson at the Scottish Baftas last year
Shirley Henderson at the Scottish Baftas last year. Image: Amy Muir/Shutterstock.

Shirley Henderson

Forres-born Shirley Henderson has appeared in several well-known UK films, including Trainspotting, Bridget Jones Diary and Wild Child.

She is perhaps most recognised as the teenage schoolgirl ghost, Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter series, despite being 37 years old at the time.

Elon Musk and Talulah Riley who got married in the highlands
Elon Musk and Talulah Riley. Image: Aleks Kocev/BFA/Shutterstock

Elon Musk & Talulah Riley

South African-born mega-billionaire and founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, married his second wife, St Trinian’s actress Talulah Riley in a ceremony at Dornoch Cathedral in 2010. The couple were together for two years before divorcing then remarrying the next year before splitting for good in 2016.

Elon Musk is among other things, famous for buying Twitter and transforming it into X.

Talulah Riley has since become engaged to Love Actually star Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

Laura Muir holding a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Laura Muir achieved silver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Image: PA.

Laura Muir

Born in Inverness, Laura Muir is the 2020 Tokyo Olympic silver medallist in the 1500 metres, having previously finished seventh at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Her speciality being the 1500m, she has achieved six 1st place finishes, including at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and the 2022 European Championships.

Julie Fowlis
Julie Fowlis is appearing at Celtic Connections later this month. Image: Wild Soul Photography.

Julie Fowlis

Educated at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Julie Fowlis graduated in 2011 before becoming well-known for the song Touch the Sky, the lead song from the Pixar movie Brave.

Originally from North Uist, she primarily performs in Gaelic and is an advocate for the retention of the ancient language in popular culture.

She currently lives in Dingwall with her family and continues to perform music.

Bob Dylan performing at Ullevi Stadium
Bob Dylan performing at Ullevi Stadium. Image: Globe Photos/Mediapunch/Shutterstock .

Bob Dylan

Musician Bob Dylan until recently owned Aultmore House, a private mansion nestled near Nethy Bridge in the Cairngorms.

He purchased it in 2006 with his younger brother David Zimmerman, which he sold last year for £4m.

Jimmy Yuill in the highlands
Jimmy Yuill. Image: Trevor Martin.

Jimmy Yuill

Actor Jimmy Yuill attended Golspie High School, where he became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He is most known for his role as DI Doug Kersey in all five series of Wycliffe from 1994 to 1998, based on W. J. Burley’s novels about DS Charles Wycliffe.

Carol Kirkwood posing in front of the weather board
Carol Kirkwood. Image Jude Edginton/BBC.

Carol Kirkwood

The well-known friendly face that delivers either good or bad news depending on the weather, Carol Kirkwood was born in the village of Morar near Mallaig.

She attended Lochaber High School in Fort William before becoming a staple on BBC morning shows, including BBC Breakfast and Victoria Derbyshire.

Portrait of Flora Macdonald
Portrait of Flora Macdonald. Image: Find My Past.

Flora Macdonald

A legend in Scotland, she was instrumental in helping Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie hide from government troops after the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.

She has been commemorated around Scotland, including a statue outside Inverness Castle, which was erected in 1896.

Albert Roux
Albert Roux. Image: Jennings/ DC Thomson.

Albert Roux

French chef Albert Roux has become synonymous with fine dining running La Gavroche, the first restaurant in the UK to achieve three Michelin stars.

He went on to open a restaurant with his son Michel Roux Jr at Inverlochy Castle near Fort William.

Sir Alexander Grant

A lesser-known name on this list, Alexander Grant, who was born in Forres in 1864, was the man behind the iconic McVitie’s digestive biscuit, a true British institution.

He also donated £200,000 to help establish the National Library of Scotland and was a keen golfer, regularly playing on the links at Nairn.

Ashley Judd got married in the highlands
Ashley Judd got married at Skibo Castle in Dornoch. Image: Shutterstock.

Ashley Judd

American actress and daughter of legendary country singer Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd married racecar driver Dario Franchitti at Skibo Castle near Dornoch in 2001.

Aside from her acting, she has become a vocal advocate for women’s rights and has been heavily involved in organisations such as Women for Women International and Equality Now.

Anders Holch Povlsen in the highlands
Anders Holch Povlsen is Scotland’s largest landowner. Image: Scanpix Denmark.

Anders Holch Povlsen

The Danish billionaire owner of Asos has taken a keen interest in Highland property. In 2018, he purchased the 24,000-acre Ben Loyal and 18,000-acre Kinloch Lodge.

This made him the largest landowner in Scotland, having previously bought a 47,000-acre estate in Inverness-shire in 2006 and a 30,000-acre estate near Fort William in 2008.

Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp
Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp. Image: Kobal/Shutterstock.

Charlie Chaplin

Infamous funny man Charlie Chaplin rose to fame through his onscreen persona, The Tramp, which featured the signature moustache and comic timing. Notable films included The Kid, The Gold Rush and The Circus.

Later in life, into his 70s, Chaplin sought refuge from fame by holidaying in the coastal town of Nairn.

The family would stay at the Newton Hotel, renting out the whole second floor and loved to play tennis or golf.

Madonna and Guy Ritchie at the christening of their son Rocco in the highlands
Madonna and Guy Ritchie at the christening of their son Rocco at Dornoch Cathedral. Image: PA.

Madonna & Guy Ritchie

Superstar Madonna and director Guy Ritchie travelled to Dornoch Cathedral, where their son Rocco was christened on December 21, 2001.

The following day, the pair married at the nearby Skibo Castle to much fanfare. The couple were married for eight years.

Madonna is currently on The Celebration Tour, travelling around the world.

Britain's Elizabeth II presents Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum with a trophy for the winning owner of the 4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stake during the final day of Royal Ascot in Ascot, Britain, 22 June 2019.
The sheik was a friend of the late Queen. Image: Shutterstock.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum

The current ruler of Dubai was a friend of the late Queen and shared her love of the north of Scotland.

He purchased the Killilan and Inverinate estate near Loch Duich and has since lodged plans to expand the property, including building an 11-bedroom lodge.