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Birnam Oak, Scotland

Chris Knapman

Birnham oak in snow

Location: Birnam, Perthshire

Region: Scotland

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The Birnam oak and its neighbour the Birnam Sycamore are thought to the sole surviving trees of Birnam Wood, the huge forest that once straddled the banks of the River Tay and was made famous by Shakespeare.

While it’s unlikely that the oak was around in the time of Macbeth, set in the 11th century, a plaque by the tree says it’s a living relic of the medieval forest. The oak’s exact age is not known but as its girth is around seven metres, it’s likely to be at least 600 years old so was almost certainly mature when Shakespeare is said to have visited Perthshire in 1589. The oak’s lower branches rest on wooden supports and its trunk is hollow. At some time in the past there has clearly been a fire inside the trunk but the tree appears to be thriving

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