The Stone of the Apostles, carved in the eighth or ninth century, on display in the beautiful Dunkeld Cathedral, situated on the banks of the River Tay and dating to 1260. There is an ancientness to stone that wood and water cannot match, especially when time erodes stone to some of the organic softness of water and wood.
The River Tay, on whose banks stand Dunkeld Cathedral, and whose shores were the playground of the young Beatrix Potter, who spent the summers of her childhood here. Much of her inspiration came from this river and the surrounding countryside. The river, seen here in a steady light rain, is full and fast-flowing here. In other places it is wider and slides idyllically along.
Also on the banks of the River Tay stand two magnificent trees, the last living remnants of the famed Birnam Wood of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The first is this stunning sycamore, which despite its massive size is a mere three hundred years young. ‘Tis but a sapling, really.
And just past it, a slightly smaller but far older oak tree. It’s age can’t be determined exactly because it is hollow–Claire, Emme and I all fit inside at once, with me standing up–but it is well over five hundred years old.
Shakespeare is thought possibly to have traveled to Perth with a troupe of actors as a young man, and could well have walked beneath the branches of this oak tree. It’s certainly easy to imagine it; both trees look medieval, but this one earns the name.
And of that forest of Birnam Wood, just these two remain.
And at 5:00 tomorrow morning we hop on the shuttle to the airport, and our Scottish odyssey is done. It will be back to my tree, reverberating now with new resonances, tapped with deeper veins of water, wood, and stone.