‘Living memorial’ to war dead rediscovered

Donald McRae and Rev Rosslyn Duncan at the 'living memorial' oak tree in Dunnottar Woods.
Donald McRae and Rev Rosslyn Duncan at the 'living memorial' oak tree in Dunnottar Woods.

An oak tree planted in Dunnottar Woods in memory of those who fought in World War One has been rediscovered by Dunnottar Church.

The tree, which was planted in 1919, was in a well-used area of the woods just behind the churchyard outside Stonehaven.

However, over the last 50 years the site has become overgrown and largely forgotten.

A plaque near to the tree reads: “This tree was planted on 8th July, 1919, in honour of those parishioners who fought in the Great War”.

Since the kirk session of Dunnottar Church became involved, however, a path has been cleared to the tree, and plans are afoot for clear signage, a properly constructed footpath, and even a memorial garden in the area.

Donald McRae, from the kirk session - who has been leading the project - said that they will discover at the end of this month whether an application to the National Memorial Society for a grant has been successful.

If so, the money will be used to create an easily accessible walkway leading from the road to the tree. Extra funds would still be required, however, as the grant would cover up to 75% of the cost. Scottish and Southern Electricity, who maintain a pylon and electricity lines close to the tree, helped to clear the area, and Mr McRae said that they would not have managedwithout their help.

Minister of Dunnottar Church, Rev. Rosslyn Duncan, said she thought that a tree, particularly an oak, was a fitting memorial: “We would like to eventually create a memorial garden here for quiet contemplation, and where people can scatter ashes if they wish.

‘‘The reason these soldiers died was for future generations, so it would be nice to have it not just as a memorial to them, but as an ongoing memorial garden for anyone.”

Mr McRae added that there was now a huge pile of firewood at the site, and anyone who needed any could “help themselves.”