Beech Hedge at Meikleour

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On a recent journey to the Scottish Highlands, while traveling north of Perth, (on the A93 to Braemar) I happened across this amazing hedge that runs alongside the main road. The reason I recognized such a normally-anonymous thing as a hedge over 200 miles from home (!), is that it is featured in the book and BBC TV programme 'Meetings With Remarkable Trees' by Thomas Pakenham.

The Meikleour hedge is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as being the 'Tallest Hedge in the World' at over 30 metres (100ft) high and 530 metres (1/3 mile) long. The hedge consists of an unknown number of European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees.

Beech Hedge at Meikleour

This image was taken from the north end of the hedge; as can be seen, the hedge dwarfs the passing traffic.

According to local literature, the top of the hedge is pruned and re-measured every 10 years; this work takes four men over 6 weeks to do.

Records seem to agree that the hedge was originally planted in 1745, however there seem to be a two slightly differing tales as to how it became so tall.

The first story is that a Jean Mercer of Meikleour and her husband, Robert Murray Nairne planted the hedge in 1745 along the eastern boundary of their estate as a windbreak. Soon after Robert Nairne went to the Battle at Culloden (final battle of the Jacobite Rising) where he perished. His wife, Jean Mercer allowed the trees in the hedge to 'reach up to heaven' in memorial to her husband (though other accounts hold that she left for Edinburgh to be comforted by friends or family and the hedge was left uncared for).

The second story concerns the owner of Meikleour House (around which the hedge borders) planting the hedge with his son. Soon after, the son went to War and his father vowed not to cut the hedge until his son returned to home. According to this version of events, the son died at War, never returned and the hedge was therefore left uncut.

Whichever story one chooses to believe, a single line of 30 metre tall trees over 1/2 kilometre in length is an impressive sight and well worth a visit if ever you are traveling within Scotland.