The Fairy Tree

At the summit of the knowe, there is the ‘Fairy Tree’, a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) tree which is said to contain the spirit of the Reverend Robert Kirk. After a distinguished, if somewhat conventional, career, his mind started to turn to subjects of the supernatural.  In 1691, he was parish minister in Aberfoyle and published an extraordinary book called ‘ The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Faunes and Fairies ‘ in which he describes in intimate detail his encounters and conversations with the fairy people on Doon Hill.  For the first time, this was to graphically divulge the secrets of the Scottish supernatural underworld to the mortal population, a rash and ill-considered act which was ultimately to lead to the ministers undoing.

In 1692, a year after the book was published; Robert Kirk collapsed and died when walking on Doon Hill. After his funeral, he appeared to relatives to tell them that he was in fairyland and gave them instructions for his release. However, his wishes were not carried out and many believe his spirit may still be contained in the old scots pine on Doon Hill.

Doon Hill’s association with spirits and fairies lives on to this day.  The pine tree provides the focus for this fascination, and the well-worn path to the top of the hill bears testament to its many visitors.  A “cloutie well” has sprung up around the tree, with nearby young oaks festooned with dangling multicoloured strips of material, each with a “wish” scrawled on it.  Coins have also been pressed deep into the rugged bark of the trunk as a lucky offering to the hill’s unearthly inhabitants.