The Fortingall Yew tree, at 2000-5000 years old, is thought to be the oldest tree in Britain and very possibly Europe. This therefore makes it one of the oldest living organisms in the world and begs the question that if the yew had ears what sounds would it have heard over it's thousands of years in the Scottish highlands?
Historians suggest that Fortingall may have been a site for a Iron Age cult, one that may have had the yew at it's heart and local legends tell that the roman emperor Pontius Pilate was born under the Fortingall Yew and played under it's boughs as a child.
The soundscape at the yew tree is far from free of human noise. A busy hotel runs just a stone throw from the trees' trunks and the road through Fortingall brings a small but steady flow of traffic sound throughout the day. Nonetheless, as I recorded the dregs of a passing rain shower drip off the yew's needles and the menial bustle of the hotel and visiting tourists, I felt in the presence of an incredible living connection to the soundscapes of Scotland's past and hopefully the soundscapes of many years to come.
Listen in binaural 3D stereo under the branches of the Fortingall Yew and ask yourself, from the beating, rattling and chanting of early religious rituals, the rhythmic clattering and marching of roman legions to the blood curdling howl of the Scottish wolf and the heavy pawsteps of a passing brown bear what soundscapes has the Fortingall Yew tree heard over the past 2000-5000 years and what might it hear in the future?