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Fortingall Church and Yew Tree



The parish church is on an early Christian site, dedicated to Coeddi, bishop of Iona (d. 712), probably founded about 700 AD from Iona itself as a daughter monastery.

Though undocumented, crop-marks of surrounding ditched enclosures have been identified from the air, and the church's unusual dedication and fragments of several finely carved cross-slabs preserved in the church all point to an early origin as a major church site. Also preserved in an alcove in the church is an early hand-bell in Irish style (iron with bronze coating), dating from the 7th-8th centuries, one of several to have survived in Highland Perthshire. Several slabs with simple incised crosses (best paralleled at Iona and other west of Scotland sites) and a massive early font are to be seen in the churchyard.

The attractive white-harled parish church (built 1901-02), notable for its fine woodwork, is open in summer. Its 'arts and crafts' style was designed to harmonise with the rest of the village. A permanent display on the cross-slabs and the early church was recently installed in the building. Fortingall has one of the largest collections of early medieval sculpture in Scotland.

The Fortingall Yew is an ancient tree in its own walled enclosure within the village churchyard. Its age is estimated to be between 2000 and 5000 years, and it may be the oldest living tree - perhaps even the oldest living thing - in Europe. Place-name and archaeological evidence hint at an Iron Age cult centre at Fortingall, which may have had this tree as its focus. The site was Christianised during the Dark Ages, perhaps because it was already a sacred place.



Fortingall Church and Yew Tree
Fortingall Churchyard
Fortingall