A Discovery of Witches: A location guide
This September the highly anticipated television adaptation of A Discovery of Witches comes to our screens on Sky One.
On 14 September the characters of Deborah Harkness’ best-selling novel will be brought to life. The show depicts a contemporary love story set in a world which humans share with the declining species of witches, vampires and daemons – creatures existing and working amongst us, but hiding, unknown to most humans, in plain sight.
The series was largely shot in Wales, both on set at Wolf Studios Wales in Cardiff Bay and on location across the country. Here Gareth Skelding, Location Manager for A Discovery of Witches, talks us through the diverse range of locations across Wales in which this supernatural thriller of a romance unfolds.
Wolf Studios Wales, Cardiff Bay
“The vast 250,000 sq ft Bad Wolf Studios in Cardiff Bay played host to a number of large sets that the production required, including a huge replica of Oxford University’s acclaimed Bodleian Library in which the action really kicks off. I was told that over 5km of books were needed to line the shelves! No small undertaking but the results are breathtaking.”
“The medieval Aberglasney House and Gardens in Carmarthenshire boasts one of the finest gardens in Wales, part of which served as the gardens for Sept-Tours, the fictional family home of the de Clermont family. It’s a really versatile location for a set which I have also used to shoot scenes for Da Vinci’s Demons.”
“Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire doubled as the ruins of La Pierre, the home of vampire Gerbert of Aurillac, where Diana visits. The castle is situated so beautifully on an incredible estuary, and is also home to a large colony of bats which we had to be very careful to work around and not disturb. An ancient castle full of bats seemed very appropriate for a show about witches and vampires!”
Llyn y Fan Fach, Carmarthenshire
“When we were looking for a location to shoot the scenes where Matthew Clairmont and daemon Hamish Osborne go hunting, we needed to find a stunning natural environment that would double as the Scottish Highlands (the location written in the book). We found just the place in the mythical lake Llyn y Fan Fach in the Brecon Beacons National Park.”
Cardiff Market, Cardiff
“We needed to find a location to double as the Oxford food market where Diana shops for fresh food. We found the ideal location in Cardiff Market, where we created a butchers counter from an empty stall. We shot in the early hours of the morning to avoid the public but as the shoot went on there were definitely a few people that wandered into shot that weren’t one of our extras. Working in busy locations where you can’t fully shut down the set is always interesting and definitely keeps us on our toes!”
“I love Insole Court and have been shooting productions there for over twenty years. It’s a very grand mansion that we used to shoot scenes for Matthew Clairmont’s lodgings at All Souls College within Oxford University. It was the ideal backdrop for a vampire’s lair – dark and brooding. Fans of the books or the show can visit Insole Court, which has recently been saved by years of community campaigning and the ground floor is now open for visitors. It also has a great café – The Potting Shed – which serves up excellent homemade seasonal food.”