These iconic trees lie in a wooded valley by the River Tay in the Scottish village of Birnam. They are thought to be the sole surviving trees from the ancient Birnam Wood that once covered the banks of the river and which was immortalised in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
In his tragic play of murder and revenge, the three witches prophesize that Macbeth “shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.” The prophecy comes true when Macbeth’s enemies camouflage themselves with parts of the trees of the wood and then march on his forces. Shakespeare is believed to have travelled to Birnam in 1599 whilst part of a troupe of touring actors.
The oak is now hollow up to a height of 10 metres, with several of its branches supported by crutches. Both trees appear on the list of Scottish Heritage Trees.