Trees as Historic Landscapes: from Wallace's Oak to Reforesting Scotland<sup>*</sup>

T. C. Smout

in Exploring Environmental History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748635139
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651375 | DOI:
Trees as Historic Landscapes: from Wallace's Oak to Reforesting Scotland*

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This chapter sketches, in a Scottish context, the relationship between trees and our sense of landscape, especially of historic or cultural landscape. Trees have always been many things to many people, but mostly they have been, for those who planted or managed them, timber: utilitarian, not ornamental. It was not, however, the only view. Trees from remotest antiquity were regarded as having spiritual attributes: The Roman authorities referred generally to the groves of oak associated with the Celtic druid priesthood and with acts of worship, including human sacrifice. In the hazy world of folklore, every Scottish tree had its properties. Ash was the tree of life, with power to protect against charms and enchantment; rowan was another defence against evil, and its general presence outside every croft house testifies to this; apple and birch were associated with birth; elder and hawthorn with the spirit of the dead; alder with rebirth; hazel with wisdom, and so forth.

Keywords: trees; historical landscape; cultural landscape; Scottish folklore; timber

Chapter.  6523 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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