Landscapes Forum > Information on trees and crofts?

I am curious about trees that are associated with croft houses at Bennachie and elsewhere. One often finds native trees near a ruined croft and I have the impression that crofters either planted them or allowed them to grow. At Shepherd’s Lodge there are two geans / cherries, two rowans and a holly – along with a rapidly regenerating laurel that was cut down during the recent clearfelling to prevent damage to the walls it was leaning on. There are others over at Esson’s croft too. They may have grown naturally following these crofts’ abandonment, but there is also a story that planting rowan would ward off witchcraft. Has anyone any other stories, or any evidence through Bennachie Landscapes Project research, about how or why these trees came to be where they are? Any help will be appreciated, not least because I’m lined up to do a talk on the anthropology of trees soon.

June 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo Vergunst

Jo
Sorry for the delay in responding - I suggest you look at the Flora Celtica - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ( rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/celtica/fcb.htm) this is an international project based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, documenting and promoting the knowledge and sustainable use of native trees.

For example Rowan as Protection
Many traditions have evolved from the belief common among many Celtic people that the Rowan tree could offer protection from evil spirits. On Beltane (the night before May Day, which in some places was called Rowan Tree Day), sprigs of Rowan were often tied with string dyed red from the Rowan berries to cows' tails and horses' halters to protect them, and sheep were made to jump through hoops made from Rowan. Crossed branches of Rowan were often placed in cowsheds and stables for the same purpose, and milking stools and pails were sometimes made of Rowan wood. Rowan trees were commonly planted near the doors of houses, or Rowan twigs placed over the door or under a bed, to ward off evil spirits. Necklaces of Rowan berries with red thread were often worn for protection by Highland women. Rowan trees was often planted in churchyards to send away evil spirits and to keep the unquiet dead from leaving their graves. In Wales, it was common for people to wear a cross carved from Rowan. Corpses prior to burial and coffins in transit to graveyards were often placed under Rowan trees to protect the souls from evil spirits.
I hope this helps! Jackie