Robert the Bruce’s Yew

Perched on a rocky outcrop on the western shore of Loch Lomond is an ancient yew (Taxus baccata) associated with King Robert the Bruce.  Legend has it that The Bruce took shelter from pursuing enemies under the evergreen canopy, entertaining his troops with tales of valour.  Bruce and 200 of his followers welcomed the rest, having spent a whole night and day ferrying themselves across the loch in a single leaky rowing boat which could only hold three men at a time.  J C Loudon (1783 – 1843), the influential Scottish writer who chronicled the changes in garden design in the early part of the 19th century, paid a visit to The Bruce’s yew on his travels. In 1837 he recorded the girth of the trunk at ground level to be 4 metres (13 feet) and the height at 12 metres (39 feet).  By 1998 the girth had increased to 6.1 metres (20 feet) and the height reduced to 5.5 metres (18 feet) as a result of heavy pruning in the interim.  This suggests an annual ring width of two millimetres, a reasonable rate of increment for a slow-growing species in such a harsh environment.