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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
The Old and Remarkable Elm Trees in Scotland


By Robert Hutchison of Carlowrie.
[Premium— Ten Sovereigns.]

In discussing and passing in review the old and remarkable elms in Scotland, we must follow the course adopted by Loudon, and consider the various species or varieties of the Ulmus family as referable to two distinct types, viz., Ulmus campestris and Ulmus montana; the former being the variety popularly known as the English or small-leaved elm, and the latter, the mountain wych or Scotch elm.

To the arboriculturist the elm family has been a source of much speculation and doubt, considerable uncertainty prevailing amongst the best authorities in dendrology as to what should be regarded as distinct species, and what only as varieties. As many as five species have been suggested as forming distinct groups of the elm family in Britain, viz., Ulmus campestris, Ulmus tuberosa, Ulmus major, Ulmus montana, and Ulmus glabra. To distinguish between these is frequently very puzzling; and as throughout Scotland the elm is popularly known where planted, only as the Scotch or English elm, we may dismiss any attempt to unravel from the statistics of the old and remarkable specimens, we are enabled to describe and append to this chapter, whether they belong to any of these doubtful sub-varieties, but treating them simply as old and remarkably large or historically interesting trees, consider them as elm trees of the two families we have indicated, and unless where in the statistical table they are stated to be the Ulmus campestris or English elm, mention in this chapter may be taken as being made only to the Scotch or wych elm (Ulmus montana). Our thus ignoring as distinct varieties the others we have named, is, in a paper dealing with the old and remarkable specimens of elm throughout the country, of the less consequence, when we state that much of the supposed difference in species or variety, apart from the two distinct branches we propose to adhere to, arises from the fact that the seed of the elm tree almost never proves quite true to the parent from which it is taken, but produces endless "sports," alike in leaf, habit, and colour of foliage from the parent plant according to soil and situation.

In adhering to Loudon's two distinct types, their differences may be popularly explained in very few words, and the distinctions will be apparent at once to the most untutored eye in arboriculture. The Ulmus campestris and its varieties are chiefly remarkable for their smaller leaves, and by a persistent tendency to throw up suckers from the roots, which is a very sufficient compensation, in the propagation of the species, against the liability it has in many cases of producing very imperfectly formed or immature seeds. On the other hand, the Scotch elm (Ulmus montana) seldom produces any suckers from its roots, and is almost invariably loaded every season with a profusion of perfectly formed and prolific seeds. This distinction may lead to the inquiry whether any or either of the two families of the elm tribe may be considered as indigenous to the British climate.

On this point arborists are pretty well agreed, that whatever doubt may be suggested regarding the indigenous origin of the English elm (Ulmus campestris), there can be no hesitation in pronouncing the Scotch elm, or wych elm, as it is frequently termed,—which name is itself indicative, from its origin, of the tree's existence and wide dispersion in this country in early Anglo-Saxon times,—to be a native of the British islands. It is not so frequently found in the southern parts of England, but its geographical area of cultivation increases as we proceed northwards; and in Scotland in most districts, but chiefly in the alluvial loamy straths, or in the sheltered glens of the higher altitudes, it abounds in quantity, and forms in the more richly wooded districts of Scotland generally a notable feature in most plantations. Ulmus campestris, on the other hand, is more generally found in the southern and midland counties of England, and in the neighbourhood of populous cities or large towns, and along the banks of the Thames, Severn, and such rivers, where probably its more upright and loftier head, and better habit of growth, have recommended it in preference to, and probably to the extinction of, the other species, whose habit of growth is much more irregular and straggling—a characteristic which precludes its use in many situations for ornamental purposes, although where space can be afforded for its large spreading head, which frequently loses its central column or bole at no very great height from the ground, there can be no doubt that it becomes generally a far more picturesque tree than its English ally. Gilpin and his cultured editor, Sir L. Dick Lauder, both considered the wych elm as "one of the most beautiful trees in our British sylva. The trunk is so bold and picturesque in form, covered, as it frequently is, with huge excrescences, the limbs and branches also are so free and graceful in their growth, and the foliage is so rich, without being heavy or clumpy as a whole, and the head is generally so finely massed, and yet so well broken, as to render it one of the noblest of park trees, and when it grows wildly amid the rocky scenery of its native Scotland, there is no tree which assumes so great or so pleasing a variety of character; our associations with it in such scenes lead us to prize it highly." The wych elm, like its fellow the English elm, is found to attain only its full dimensions, and to thoroughly develop its peculiar characteristics, in deep loamy soil with a cool, dampish subsoil, free from stagnant water, and in such situations noble old examples may be found, although in our investigations for old and remarkable specimen elms we have been struck with the rareness with which really very large old examples now occur, in comparison with the frequency with which many similar instances of remarkable trees of other descriptions are to be found and recorded in Scotland.

This scarcity of instances of old or remarkable elms extant at the present day in Scotland, may perhaps be accounted for from the fact of its being an indigenous tree of very rapid growth in suitable soils and situations during the early years of its career in the plantation, which, taken along with the value of its timber for so many rural purposes when it has attained large size, may have proved inducements to proprietors, in an age when less attention was paid to the conservancy of fine old trees, to lightly estimate so common a tree as the Scotch elm for ornament, and so to fell the most useful and matured timber, relying on the rapidity of the early growth of the younger individuals to fill its place within a reasonable period. Consequently, during the past century very many noble examples throughout the country have been lost to record, while in almost every mixed plantation in Scotland formed within the past century, and without the slightest regard to suitability of soil, subsoil, or situation, or the characteristic habits of the tree, elms have been largely planted, many of which, from circumstances inimical to their growth, have, after years of trial, failed to supply worthy successors to the giants of a former period.

Another evil consequent upon such promiscuous planting with trees unsuited to mixed plantations or to particular soils has been, that by many planters the elm is now looked upon with suspicion, from its unruly nature of growth in young woods, destroying, by its shadow and long wide-spreading fan-like young limbs, the other varieties of hardwoods of slower growth. Thus, the older trees of elm, when required for timber, have had to be fallen back upon during the past half century, rendering it at the present day comparatively difficult to find a stately tree of great dimensions and scantling in many localities.

Our old friend Dr. Walker—whose subjects given in his catalogue of old remarkable trees, issued about the beginning of the present century, we have in these chapters on the existing old and remarkable trees in Scotland, attempted most carefully to identify, and in every instance, if possible, to record their present measurements at the same points as those which he recites—only notices five old and remarkable elm trees; and these he classifies as "Ulmus campestris" or "Scots elm," which is an evident mistake for the Ulmus montana; and, excepting in one case, none of these trees can be regarded as in any way remarkable. The exception we refer to is the elm, in the parish of Roxburgh, called the "trysting tree," which in 1796 was measured, and found to be in circumference, at 3 feet from the ground, 30 feet. The next largest elm he records is that at Newbattle Abbey, Mid-Lothian, which, in July 1789, measured at the same point, 10 feet 4 inches in girth. The other three elms recorded by Dr. Walker are two which grew in the old College Gardens at Glasgow, and which girthed in 1764 8 feet 5 inches and 9 feet 5 inches respectively at 3 feet from the root; these are now no more, though, when or how they succumbed and went over to the majority, no one has recorded, and the remaining tree he mentions in his remarkable group is the elm, "north from the house of Drumlanrig in Nithsdale," which, on 23rd April 1773, girthed 9 feet 4 inches. If our reverend friend could only find such poor examples of elm trees to enrich his otherwise admittedly very accurate catalogue, the absence of big elms in his day must have been very marked indeed, as contrasted with the many more interesting and larger specimens he cites of almost every other description of hard-wooded trees in Scotland. It must also be borne in mind that Dr. Walker was a very keen and vigilant observer, and his sharp eye and ready pen could not fail to detect any unusual tree, which he might happen to stumble upon or hear of, in his long and painstaking investigation. That there were few notably gigantic trees of the elm tribe in his day, may be inferred from the note he appends to the dimensions he gives of the "trysting tree" in Roxburgh parish, viz.: "Though," says he, "Scots elm abounds with us, both in natural woods and plantations, yet in England, where it is called the Wych Elm, it is often to be seen of a much larger size."

Recent inquiries at the parish minister of Roxburgh, as to the existence and condition at the present day of the well-known "trysting tree" there, elicits the reply, that upon inquiry he has been able to state that this tree no longer exists except in the memory of some old people, but how or when it disappeared, he has not been able to discover.

The earliest, and probably the most generally adopted, mode of planting the elm in Scotland, appears to have been in hedgerows for shelter and along roadsides. Its rapidity of growth in its early years, and its capability of being cut in with impunity when its large branches interfered in any way with adjoining objects, rendered it desirable in such situations, and for the same reasons its use as an avenue tree in many localities became generally adopted. Indeed, in other countries as well as in our own, the suitability of the elm for avenue and roadside planting was at an early period recognised. In France, it was known and used as an ornamental tree as early as the time of Francis I.; and it was first used there to adorn the public promenades about 1540. Afterwards we find it used, in the reign of Henry IV., as a churchyard tree to a large extent, though why, does not appear, unless its selection for such situations was only for the replacement of older trees which had probably perished; or perhaps from old associations with such sites, for we know that in the early ages of Christianity, the hunters were accustomed to hang the skins of wolves they had killed in the chase upon the elms in the churchyard, as a kind of trophy. [The planting of the elm trees around churchyards in the Middle Ages may have some reference to the old mythology of the Greeks and Romans, who looked on all barren or non-food-producing trees as funereal trees. Thus, we find ash, elms, lime, &c, used in such situations, but never beech, walnut, or even oak.] According to Evelyn, it appears that Henry IV. of France expressed a wish that all the highways in that country should be planted with rows of elm trees, and thus it soon became the favourite tree for planting along promenades and hedgerows. Its use for this purpose probably was to afford shelter and concealment, in its umbrageous head and wide-spreading limbs and dense leafage, to soldiers during warfare or foray; for Bosc mentions elm trees in Burgundy of immense size, which, though hollow and decaying in their trunks, "yet supported heads capable of sheltering some thousands of men." For town planting the elm is very often used, even at the present day in Scotland, but it is not so well adapted for introduction with success in the smoky atmosphere of large cities or towns as the plane or sycamore.

From reference to the accompanying appendix of statistics of old or remarkable elms, it will be observed that the tree accommodates itself and thrives in many different soils and situations, and although it does not attain the same dimensions as a timber tree at lofty altitudes, still even in these it does well, and may be seen flourishing, although, of course, of less noteworthy size than in lower and more congenial sites. The soil in which its timber attains most value is a sandy deep loam, overlying a cool rock or gravel subsoil. Although it is very impatient of stagnant or water-logged substrata, it is often seen in Scotland of large dimensions by the banks of streams, which almost lave its very roots. In wet, or tilly clay, it will not succeed, but it is often found, in a natural self-sown state, thriving, and of considerable girth, amongst rocky "denes" or "glens," where there is almost no depth of soil to mention, overlying the porous rock.

Loudon mentions that the largest trees which are known certainly to belong to the species Ulmus montana are supposed to be in Scotland; and before referring more particularly to those now measured, and given in detail in the appendix to this chapter, as existing large trees at the present day, we may notice those given by him as being notable examples of large elms in 1836, or about that date; several of which we have again identified, re-measured, and referred to in the present appendix. On the estate of Castle Huutly, Perthshire, Loudon notices several fine Scotch elms, which then, at 3 feet from the ground, girthed 11 feet. These have now, unfortunately, along with most of the fine old timber on this estate (many of the trees having been very fine specimens), been ruthlessly cut down for sale. They have been recorded in regard to dimensions during their life, but no information now exists of their sizes at the time of their assassination and premature death. At Aberdour, Fife, on 10th March 1812, a fine elm girthed 11 feet 6 inches at 3 feet up, and had 40 feet of clean bole. Two elms at Yair, Selkirkshire, girthed at the ground 13 feet. At Taymouth Castle, Perthshire, in September 1814, an elm measured 15 feet 9 inches, at 3 feet from the ground. A curious fantastic elm tree, remarkable for its quaint and weird-like boughs, grew at Touch, Stirlingshire, but has since, unrecorded, we have ascertained, been allowed to depart this life. At Polloc, in Lanarkshire, there are some fine wych elms referred to by Loudon, and still extant. One of these, figured by Strutt in 1812, was then 86 feet high; but in October 1839, when again measured, was found to be 90 feet high, and to have a circumference of 12 feet at 5 feet from the ground. Other three trees growing there were then nearly as large, and one of them, which tradition asserts to have been planted by Sir Thomas Maxwell, Lord Advocate of William III., and one of the commissioners of the Union, was planted in commemoration of that event. At Kinfauns, in Perthshire, is a fine elm (says Loudon) 70 feet high, with a circumference of trunk of 19˝ feet, and with a spread of branches covering a diameter of 60 feet. At Airthrey Castle, Stirlingshire, Loudon found a fine tree 63 feet high, 12 feet in girth at 3 feet; and again at Callendar Park, Stirlingshire, he records one 46 feet in height, with a circumference of trunk at 3 feet, of 15 feet, and with a spread of branches of 66 feet diameter.

Having thus far noticed the recorded elms in Scotland of a past date, we hasten to consider those of the present day throughout the country, many of which are tabulated in the appendix, and shall notice in passing such as may still be identified as trees already mentioned in these pages, and referred to as belonging to Walker's or Loudon's catalogue.

In the more northerly counties of Scotland we find many fine examples of the elm, growing in luxuriant vigour and of notable dimensions. At Darnaway, in Morayshire, Brodie Castle, Dalvey, and other places in the same county, there are splendid specimens of this, as of most other hard-wooded trees. In addition to the tree recorded in the appendix from Brodie Castle, there are to be seen many other even more imposing trees growing in the park, but unfortunately no very accurate measurements of them could be obtained, owing to their having thrown out such masses of suckers around their trunks, and owing to their being otherwise much swollen in the root-cuts of their boles by immense burr-like excrescences. The examples given from Darnaway, and which girth about 15 feet at 1 foot from the ground, and from 12 to 14˝ feet at 5 feet from the base, cannot be more than about 210 years old, for in August last we had an opportunity of carefully examining and counting the annular rings upon the section of a root-cut of one of the trees cut in the plantation where those are growing, which are referred to in the appendix, and it was found to contain 207 annual rings. This section measured 3 feet 6 inches in diameter in one direction, and 3 feet 10 inches in the other. From a meteorological point of view, this inspection of the tree section was very interesting, the narrow or broad width of annual rings in each successive year clearly showing the dry or non growth-producing summers, as contrasted with those seasons favourable to annual growth of wood. Beckoning back from the date of the tree's fall, the various seasons might be found from these rings to compare most minutely and accurately with the most carefully prepared calendar of the seasons by the most intelligent meteorologist.

On the estate of Gordon Castle, Morayshire, are some very interesting and remarkable trees of many varieties, but amongst the elms may be noted a fine old avenue of this variety running through the park to the front of the castle, the space between the stems being 74 feet. It is generally considered that this avenue is upwards of 300 years old, and that the trees composing it are amongst the oldest in the grounds. The following are some of their average girths:—

22 feet 3 inches, at 1 foot from ground.
16 feet 2 inches, at 5 feet from ground.
60 feet height.
Circumference of spread of branches, 243 feet.

The scarcity of groups or masses of remarkable elms in Scotland is nowhere more conspicuous than in the northern districts, for, while in Aberdeenshire, Inverness, Sutherland, Boss, Moray, Banff, and Nairn, a single fine and majestic tree may be stumbled upon now and again, it is impossible to find them of any noteworthy size in quantity, while in some of those counties named it is often a long day's journey from one good specimen before the investigator can find another. As an example of the weeping elm variety, no doubt the finest tree in Scotland exists at Black-friars Haugh, in Morayshire; its height exceeds 30 feet, while in circumference it is 4 feet 6 inches at 1 foot from the ground, with a diameter of spread of branches of 108 feet. Other fine specimens of this variety exist in Ayrshire, but although perhaps somewhat thicker in girth, they cannot compare in point of symmetry, height, or general outline with the Morayshire specimen. They are to be found at Orchardhill Nurseries, Kilmarnock, where it is 4 feet 6 inches in girth; and at Kinyeancleuch, Ayrshire, where the specimen has attained a circumference of stem of fully 5 feet. These, however, cannot boast the same tall head or umbrageous diameter of branches of the northern tree.

At Brahan Castle, Boss-shire, where we have had occasion in previous papers to notice the salubrity of climate, soil, and exposure as most conducive to tree development, and where many noble specimens of hard-wooded giants exist, we found an elm growing at an altitude of 110 feet, 85 feet in height, with a girth of 19 feet 8 inches at 1 foot and nearly 13 feet at 5 feet above ground. This tree has made 8 inches of wood since its previously-recorded measurement in 1869.

At Strontian, in Argyllshire, is a very noteworthy Scotch elm, planted, it is said, by Lady Janet Cameron of Dungallon. It is only 6 feet above sea-level, and stands in a light clay soil, upon a sandy subsoil, and has attained a height of 63 feet, with a circumference of 21 feet and 15 feet 2 inches at 1 and 5 feet respectively, and has a diameter of spread of branches of no less than 120 feet. The tree is locally known by the name of its noble planter, "Lady Janet." The name is at all events not very common, and history records no other distinction of this noble lady. Can she have had anything to do with the planting of another Scotch elm at Carronhall, Stirlingshire, which also bears the soubriquet of "Lady Janet," and is a tree of about the same age apparently as that at Strontian, being now 85 feet high, and girthing 18 feet 2 inches at 5 feet from the ground, in a clay loam soil, or clay subsoil ? This point the family historiographer, and not the arborist, alone can decide. The Kinnaird elms, growing on the South Esk estates in Forfarshire, are notable specimens. Reference to the appended details will show that four of these trees give an average girth of 13 feet 6 inches at 5 feet above ground, while two of the four exceed 14 feet at that point.

In Perthshire, as might be expected, many noble elms are met with. Those in the park of Castle Menzies are in no way inferior to the other varieties of splendidly developed hard-wooded trees which have been already noticed in that locality. At Dunkeld there are perhaps fewer elms of large size than may be seen of other hard woods; but two are notable examples of finely grown Scotch elms. These will be found in the appendix, and one is styled "The Highlandman's Bonnet" and is said to have received this name from an enthusiastic son of the north having fetched it, when a seedling, as a sprig in his glengarry bonnet, and planted it on the occasion of his taking service in the Dunkeld woods or gardens. It is now 73 feet in height, and nearly 13 feet in girth at 5 feet from the ground. The other fine elm in this site is between the entrance gate from Dunkeld and the gardens, and is 15 feet 4˝ inches in circumference at 5 feet from the ground. It is a most imposing and majestic tree. At Strathallan are some interesting and large old Scotch elms, one of which is 19 feet 2 inches in girth at 1 foot above ground, and 15 feet 9 inches at 5 feet. It grows in black loam on a sand and gravel subsoil. At Moncrieffe, near Perth, there are some fine large elms. One given in the appendix is 20 feet 6 inches in girth at 1 foot, and 14 feet 10 inches at 5 feet from the base. The difference in girth between these points is largely accounted for by a good deal of vacant space about the lower part of the base of the trunk and roots. Another remarkable Scotch elm there should not be overlooked, not only on account of its great dimensions, but also for the peculiarity of its assumed form and growth. At some early period of its youth, it appears to have been rent through the centre, and formed a sort of archway through which a full-grown person could easily pass. Thus weakened, the tree was unable to bear the superincumbent weight of the head when in foliage, and toppled over. Notwithstanding this mishap, the tree has continued to flourish on as luxuriantly as ever, and, banyan-like, has fixed and rooted many of its drooping branches in the soil, thus presenting a most remarkable and picturesque effect.

At Kinfauns Castle, Perthshire, growing in a light loam upon a gravelly clay subsoil, upon a sloping bank at an elevation of 72 feet, there is a very picturesque rugged Scotch elm. It is now 23 feet 2 inches in circumference at 1 foot, and 19 feet 3 inches at 5 feet above the ground. Its beauty consists not only in its curiously gnarled trunk, but also in the wonderful formation of all its branches, the smallest of which forms a perfect model of the whole tree. At about 7 feet from the ground, it branches out into two large limbs, the circumference of which are 11 feet 6 inches and 9 feet 9 inches respectively.

At Blairdrummond there is a group of trees, which, although not remarkable for size, are worthy of notice from their association with the name of their eminent planter. The group consists of two sycamores, a laburnum, and elm, and are called "Franklin's trees," having been planted by the hands of Benjamin Franklin himself, when on a visit to Lord Karnes at Blairdrummond. The elm is now 60 feet high, with a fine bole of 22 feet, and girths 9 feet 10 inches and 7 feet 10 inches at 1 and 5 feet respectively. Lord Kames died in 1782, so that this tree is at least over 100 years old. Many other interesting elms in Perthshire might be referred to, but notice perhaps had better be confined to three only. The first is an old elm at Balthayock, near Perth, which gives a very striking representation of the proneness of the elm when injured in the upper stem to any severe extent, or when pollarded, to throw out huge wartlike excrescences, or "burrs," from its trunk. The measurements of this tree are not stated. The next is a fine and picturesque Scotch elm of characteristic type and habit, growing in healthy vigour at Freeland, Perthshire. It girths 16 feet 2 inches at 1 foot and 14 feet 9 inches at 5 feet above ground, and is only one of many others of similar dimensions growing in that locality. The habit of the elm to assume often a pendulous or weeping habit, is well shown in this tree. This remarkable and very distinct habit could hardly be better illustrated than in the case of this specimen, which stands on the roadside near Dunkeld,and is in a very healthy and thriving condition. This tree must not be considered an example of the variety usually known as the "weeping elm" {Ulmus montana pendula), but rather as an instance of the aptitude of the elm in its different species to vary from seed, to which reference has already been made in the commencement of this chapter. Good examples of the suitability of the elm to thrive at lofty altitudes in Scotland are given in the cases enumerated in the appendix, from Cleish Castle, Kinross-shire, where we find it growing at from 550 to 600 feet above sea-level, in a clayey soil, and attaining 86 feet in height, with a bole of 18 feet, and girthing 12 feet 8 inches and 10 feet 10 inches at 1 and 5 feet above ground.

At Grangemuir, in Fife, there is an interesting group of trees, composed of ash and elms. One average elm there girths 10 feet 7 at 1 foot from the ground. It stands near the old ash, about 100 yards from the site of a former mansion-house, and is popularly believed to be haunted by a ghost called "Baff Barefoot." Whose spirit this weird apparition was supposed to be, tradition has not preserved ; but it must be an old story, for it was narrated by the father of the ex-curator of Kew Gardens, who was gardener at Grangemuir in 1812 to 1815, to his son many years ago, and who in his own quaint way said, "By all young folks o' the place it was reckoned unco' uncanny to pass by thae' trees after 12 o'clock at nicht!" The ash tree was particularly looked upon as the haunt of Baff Barefoot. It is older than the elms, and for many years was falling into a state of gradual decay, until Mr. Rose, the present gardener, wisely had a mound of fresh soil formed over its exposed roots and round the base, which has resuscitated its failing energy, and many fresh young twigs thus encouraged are now forming into branches, and clothing the veteran with healthy foliage.

South of the Firth of Forth, and generally in the southern counties of Scotland, there are more large elm trees to be found than in the northern division of the country. This probably arises from the more general custom of planting mixed plantation of hard-wood timber which is practised. In the north the Firs, or Coniferae, alone usually prevail, this system having proved more remunerative and better adapted to the physical features of the Highlands. In many of the fertile and rich heavy loam districts bordering on the Firth and Clyde, fine majestic elms may be found. At Airth Castle, Stirlingshire, there are some noble specimens. One of these, mentioned in the appendix, is 80 feet in length, and measures 14 feet 2 inches and 12 feet 10 inches in girth, at 1 and 5 feet up, and 11 feet 2 inches at 20 feet from the base. It is only 60 feet above sea-level. At Carronhall, also in Stirlingshire, "Lady Janet," already referred to in connection with an elm bearing the same name at Strontian, is 85 feet in height, and girths 18 feet 2 inches at 5 feet from the base. The elm at Polloc (Renfrewshire), given in the appendix, is perhaps one of the tallest and most perfect specimens in Scotland. It has long been a well-known and universally admired tree. It is figured by Strutt in his admirable and beautiful Sylva Britannica. This tree stands in a group of equally remarkable wych elms; and, thanks to the intelligent and praiseworthy interest taken in his ancestral trees by the late Sir John Maxwell, we have accurate records of its progress in growth. At 5 feet from the ground it measured in circumference, in 1812, 10 feet 10 inches; in 1836, 12 feet; in 1842, 12 feet 4 inches; in 1858, 13 feet; in 1862, 13 feet 4 inches; and in 1872, 13 feet 10 inches; and in 1881 it girths 14 feet 8 inches at the same point. In 1824 Strutt records its height as being then 88 feet, and he states that the tree then contained 669 solid feet of timber. The Barr Castle elm (Ayrshire) has long been distinguished as the largest elm and indeed the largest tree in Ayrshire. The last records of its dimensions show it to be then (1879) 27 feet in girth at 1 foot, 16 feet 4 inches at 5 feet, and 16 feet at 6 feet from the ground. Its bole is not long, but very gnarled and knotty, presenting a very picturesque appearance. Its branches in its pristine vigour seem to have been numerous, and apparently very large. One of them, it is recorded, was broken off by a heavy gale of wind in 1801, and was sold for five pounds sterling! This veteran, though still alive, is showing every symptom of extreme old age. It is locally known as "the boss tree." Turning to the eastern districts of the lowland counties, we find many massive specimens of Scotch elms, but in these districts there is a larger sprinkling of the English elm (Ulmus campestris) than in the other parts of Scotland, and many of these are also worthy of notice for their huge proportions and healthy vigorous growth. Some years ago a Scotch elm was blown down at Blackadder (Berwickshire), which was 24 feet 3 inches in girth at 5 feet from the base, and this tree by popular report was generally admitted to be the largest tree in the district. On Marchmont (Berwickshire), there are many fine elms near the famous Spanish chestnuts, which are so conspicuous a feature in this well-wooded estate; several of these are given in the appendix. They grow at a high altitude (viz., 500 feet), in a strong red clay soil, upon hard till. On the estate of Ninewells, adjacent, there is a magnificent tree 13 feet 7 inches in girth at 5 feet up; and at Duns Castle, not far distant, there are several handsome and large specimens also. At Kimmerghame (Berwickshire), we have recorded some large trees, and in the appendix will be found a noble specimen of the English elm (U. campestris), girthing 13 feet at 3 feet from the ground. This tree has unfortunately perished in the recent memorable gale of 14th October 1881. Very many other magnificent tress of all varieties of hardwood in this district have been totally destroyed and overturned by the same sad hurricane, which seems to have inflicted more calamitous injury upon Berwickshire and East Lothian than upon any other locality. In East Lothian, at Yester, Biel, Whittinghame, Belton, and Tynninghame, along the valley of the Tyne, there are many large and noble elms, several of which will be found on reference to the Appendix of Returns, but of which space will not permit our giving more detailed notice at present. There is a fine mixed avenue of elms and beeches at Ormiston (East Lothian). These trees were planted in the beginning of last century by the celebrated John Cockburn. He was proprietor of Ormiston, and one of the first improvers of Scottish agriculture. He was born about 1685, became a member of the Scottish Parliament, and took an active part in the proceedings connected with the Union of Scotland and England. He afterwards represented Haddingtonshire in the British Parliament from 1707 to 1741; and these elms and beeches are said to have been planted to commemorate the Union of the two countries. This style of disposing elms in long colonnade-like rows is frequently met with in this and adjoining counties. It was very common about the beginning of last century. A fine example of it may be seen in the parks around Seton Chapel (East Lothian), where some of the old and stately elms so planted still survive, and continue to flourish, under whose leafy canopy, perchance, lofty and ambitious resolves were cherished, while still the name and fame of the house of Winton was unsullied, and its wide and fair possessions held in sway.

Appendix


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