Fortingall Yew, Perthshire – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine

The Fortingall Yew tree stands in the grounds of Fortingall Churchyard in Perthshire, here in Scotland. This is an ancient plant – various estimates say its between 2000 and 5000 years old although recent research suggest nearer the 2000 year mark. Just think! It was around at the time of Christ. Because yews are long lived they were planted near churches as a reminder of our past. Why this one has lasted so long is a mystery but DNA samples are currently being used by The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh to investigate this.

We came across this during our recent holiday in these parts. The tree is encased behind railings to keep inquisitive hands away so I was only able to take a few photos and a small video, through the bars. My painting, therefore, uses a fair amount of artistic license. This painting suggests there are more than one tree but the separate trunks are all connected by roots and underground growth. The tree features at the start of this clip:

People in my country, used to believe in the mystical powers of long-lived trees. We are not alone here as many other cultures worshipped their native trees. We used to think the yew could tell us of all its past as well as forecasting the future and people would pilgrimage to places like this to ask what lies ahead. Here is a song, sung by Battlefield Band, built around this myth.

For those trying to understand what this song is about, here is a link which might help

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/folk-song-lyrics/Yew_Tree.htm