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Branching Out

16 July 2007

Lovers of trees are in for a treat at two of the finest heritage sites in the Lothians. Dirleton Castle, near North Berwick, one of the oldest surviving castles in Scotland, and Seton Collegiate Church, an attractive ecclesiastical building near Cockenzie, both boast beautiful gardens and grounds planted with a rich variety of historic trees. This July and August, a series of special guided tours has been arranged to give visitors an opportunity to learn about the arboricultural heritage of both of these fascinating sites, their practical uses and associated folklore.

It is believed that a garden has existed at Dirleton since its earliest days as a medieval fortified residence. Today, the castle is famous for its gardens and there is a colourful blend of traditional, formal planting and more contemporary arrangements, including – as the Guinness Book of Records testifies – the world’s longest herbaceous border. Many fine examples of a wide range of tree species including yews, oaks and monkey puzzles are to be found in the stunning grounds. And at 2.00pm on Saturdays 21 and 28 July 2007 and 4 and 11 August 2007, visitors will be able to join in guided tours to see these and find out all about them.

Set in tranquil wooded grounds, Seton Collegiate Church is another treasure for anyone who appreciates nature and trees. This secluded historic site, which supported a monastic community from the late 15th century, has a large variety of tree species including a rare hybrid on the site of a former graveyard, and is embellished by numerous plants and shrubs. At 10.00am on the same days as the Dirleton tree tours - Saturdays 21 and 28 July and 4 and 11 August - there’s an opportunity to stroll around the peaceful gardens and learn about the many wonderful historic trees.

Historic Scotland’s Susan Pirie, who is the guide for the free 45-minute walks said: "Both Dirleton Castle and Seton Collegiate Church are fantastic sites set within lovely grounds and the trees are a rich part of their heritage – each has a great story to tell. We hope visitors will enjoy our guided walks which offer a chance to explore the grounds, find out all about the remarkable trees within them and hear about their histories, their uses through the ages and also the folklore surrounding them."

Notes to editors
·Dirleton Castle and Gardens are in Dirleton village, 3 miles west of North Berwick on the A198. Tel: 01620 850330. Admission: adult £4.50, child £2.25, concessions £3.50.

·Seton Collegiate Church is 1 mile south-east of Cockenzie off the A198. Tel: 01875 813334. Admission: adult £3.00, child £1.50, concessions £2.50.

·The Treefest Scotland Partnership programme of events and promotions celebrating trees, woods and forests is for the enjoyment of the people of Scotland and visitors to our country. Anyone can take part, from those who earn their living in forestry to those who simply appreciate the beauty and aesthetic contribution that trees make to our spiritual and mental well-being. For information, visit

·Scotland is the UK’s most wooded country, with more than 17% of its land under trees. Woodland cover areas are fast expanding, having trebled from around 100 years ago and growing every year by about 10,000 hectares (equivalent to about 13,000 football pitches). Scotland’s woods and forests are an enormous recreational resource, attracting about 22 million individual visits a year to walk, ride, cycle, fish, camp and watch wildlife. The country’s forests directly support more than 10,000 jobs and generate £800 million worth of business every year. The diverse collection of heritage trees which Scotland boasts includes the Fortingall Yew, estimated to be at least 3000 years old and the oldest living thing in Europe.

·Dirleton Castle and Gardens and Seton Collegiate Church are just two of the 345 heritage properties and sites throughout the country which are in the care of Historic Scotland. These range from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings.

·Historic Scotland’s mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

For further information

Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959