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Taken from beneath Stirling Castle

Bryologist Dale Kruse

Douglas Campbell

the "Date Stone"
Thanks to Peggy who sent the above photographs and says "I'm a botanist from California who has been spending the summer voluntarily conducting a botanical inventory of Gillies Hill near Stirling, Scotland for the Save Gillies Hill committee out of Cambusbarron. As you can see from their website, Gillies Hill is currently under threat from mining expansion. At high risk is a magnificent grove of Sequoiadendron giganteum which you can see on the attached photos. If the quarry is allowed to expand these giant trees will disappear.

This grove of five trees stands on the top of Gillies Hill and can be seen from everywhere on the Carse of Stirling and is considered a beacon by the local people. I've attached a photo of Gillies Hill taken beneath Stirling Castle which shows the trees from a distance. They tower above the other trees on the hill. I've also attached a photo of a visiting bryologist, Dale Kruse, standing in the grove this summer and another of Douglas Campbell
(Cambusbarron Community Council) in the grove last November.

In addition to these magnificent trees are four more planted near the ruins of Polmaise Caste, so the hill contains nine trees altogether. I've attached a photo of what is called the "Date Stone" the former entrance to the mansion. Since it was built in 1865, I doubt if the Wellingtonias, as the locals call them, are older than that unless they stood in containers for several years. In addition to the Sequoiadendron on the hill are two Sequoia sempervirens, many Douglas firs, monkey-puzzle trees, etc. all planted during the mansion's early days.
"I've waypointed all nine of the Gillies Hill Sequoiadendron (I'm currently using a Garmin eTrex Vista). The coordinates are:"

Common Names and Latin Name Latitude and Longitude
Giant Redwood, Wellingtonia
Sequoiadendron giganteum
N56 06.026 W3 58.013
N56 06.033 W3 57.993
N56 06.033 W3 57.994
N56 06.034 W3 57.995
N56 06.052 W3 58.537
N56 06.084 W3 58.556
N56 06.080 W3 58.557
N56 06.081 W3 58.564
N56 06.083 W3 58.562
N56.10043 W3.96689
N56.10055 W3.96655
N56.10055 W3.96657
N56.10057 W3.96658
N56.10087 W3.97562
N56.10140 W3.97593
N56.10133 W3.97595
N56.10135 W3.97607
N56.10138 W3.97603
Coast Redwood
Sequoia sempervirens
N56 06.264 W3 58.307
N56 06.302 W3 58.306
N56.10440 W3.97178
N56.10503 W3.97177

Douglas Campbell with Coast Redwood
"Back in California, I'm also a botanical illustrator and have illustrated trail guides, brochures, and stationery for Calaveras Big Trees State Park, the original source of seed sent to Britain in 1853.

Another little side story that you might be interested in is that my grandfather (Hiram Edwards) who was a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, personally knew Ralph Chaney who sent the first Dawn Redwood seeds back to the U.S. from China. He and my grandfather planted four seedlings in my family's coast redwood forest in Santa Cruz; unfortunately none survived, but I keep hoping to find one somewhere on the property!

Some fascinating facts and figures, thanks again Peggy, and let us hope that Gillies Hill and the Giant Redwood trees (or Giant Sequoia as they are more commonly known in America) survive this threat. The BBC web site has an article on the Gillies Hill campaign in June 2007.

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