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Taking a leaf out of history

13 October 2006

Historic Scotland will this autumn replace a decayed walnut tree on the boundary of Fortrose Cathedral with a strong young sapling.

It is the second stage of an annual regeneration programme to ensure the cathedral boundary is always graced with beautiful trees.  Several trees to the south and east of Cathedral Square are now so old their trunks are hollow and for public safety reasons need to be gradually removed.

Historic Scotland, which cares for the Cathedral, has worked to maintain the current generation of trees for as long as possible by regularly cutting back the crowns and removing branches to reduce the weight on their trunks.

Stephen Watt, Historic Scotland District Architect, said, "We are replacing one tree each autumn with a semi-mature sapling of the same species.  This limits the visual impact of the replacement programme and keeps going what we believe to be a long tradition of growing trees round the Cathedral boundaries.

Some years ago we took expert advice which indicated that we could maintain the existing trees for some time but, for safety reasons, they would eventually need to be removed."

The present trees are likely to be around 100 years old.  In recent years Historic Scotland had already replaced one storm-damaged tree in the Cathedral grounds which was at risk of encroaching on a war memorial.  Work also takes place on a planned basis to cut back branches that could prevent large vehicles, like refuse lorries, moving freely along the surrounding roads.

Notes for editors
  • The cathedral is in Fortrose on the A832. Telephone 01667 460232. Keys are available locally.
  • In summer 2006, Historic Scotland completed a major project to replace corroded Victorian iron rods and plates designed to prevent the south aisle from collapsing. The modern steel replacements are stronger and will have a longer life. Long-term monitoring is taking place to ensure the cathedral ruins remain intact.
  • This year will mark the half way point in the project with a further walnut and a horse chestnut due to be dealt with in 2007 and 2008.
  • In 2004 the electrical drive of the cathedral clock was replaced after it began chiming the wrong hours – including 64 o’clock.
  • Other work carried out on the cathedral by Historic Scotland in recent years has included re-pointing and the replacement of worn stonework.
  • The Cathedral, which was built of an attractive red sandstone is now a ruin but the south aisle of the nave and the chapter house are still standing.
  • Permission to build the new cathedral for Ross was granted by Pope Gregory IX in 1236 but it was probably only finished in 1300. Additions were made in the 1400s, but it fell out of use after the Reformation of 1560.
  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.

For further information


Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959
kate.turnbull@scotland.gsi.gov.uk