Into battle with Monty Python!

Last week the archives welcomed a visit from the university’s retired staff association. As part of their ongoing oral history project they invited their members to a ‘memory day’ in the reading room. Over 30 former staff of the university turned up for what proved to be a very enjoyable afternoon. The event gave us the opportunity to showcase some of our holdings relating to the history of the university. One item which sparked much interest was a copy of Campus, the university newspaper, from May 1974. The front page story headlined “Into battle with Monty Python!” reported that the film makers were looking “for 175 students to take part as extras in a battle scene in the new Monty Python and the Holy Grail film.”

The Pythons arrived in Stirling in April 1974. Location shooting took place at Killin and on Sherrifmuir but the bulk of the film was shot at Doune Castle. The castle was used as the location for a number of key scenes in the film including the memorable ‘Knights of the Round table’ song and dance routine. The invitation to students to appear in the film as extras offered a number of inducements (to make up for the early starting time of 8am on a Saturday morning) including £2 pay, free transport, food and refreshments, and “an added attraction… of an abundance of crazy antics.”

Student extras on location with Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Student extras on location during the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Doune Castle is now a popular destination for movie buffs and Python fans. Indeed it has been estimated that up to a third of its 25,000 visitors a year are there because of the film. It now hosts a very popular Monty Python day every September (coconut shells optional…).

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