Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Oh! rowan tree, oh! rowan tree,
Thou’lt aye be dear to me,
En twin’d thou art wi’ mony ties
O’ hame and infancy

The Rowan tree, immortalised in the Scottish folk-song1‘Rowan Tree Scottish – Scottish Folk Song by Lady Nairne’. 2022. Scottish-Country-Dancing-Dictionary.com <https://www.scottish-country-dancing-dictionary.com/rowan-tree.html> [accessed 30 August 2022].

This tree — alternative names being Mountain Ash, witchwood or wicken-wood— is on the climb up Whetstone Nab to Capt. cook’s Monument, and is absolutely laden with bright red berries.

Rowan is traditionally a powerful protection from evil influence. Pieces of the wood were often carried in pockets as a self-defence against witches, and farm hands used to have their whip-stocks made of rowan, to protect their oxen teams. On Witchwood or St. Helen’s Day, sprigs of rowan were ceremonially cut down and taken home and fixed up over the main entrance of houses. They would be left protecting the home until they decayed away2Jeffrey, Percy Shaw. “Whitby Lore and Legend.” Page 176. Reprinted 1991. Caedmon of Whitby.

The name Rowntree, quite common in this district, is a contraction of rowan tree”3Ibid..

The York based confectionary form Rowntrees launched their Fruit Pastilles in 18814‘Rowntree’s’. 2019. Nestlé <https://www.nestle.co.uk/en-gb/brands/chocolate_and_confectionery/rowntree> [accessed 30 August 2022]. I was never a Fruit Pastilles kid, preferring Smarties instead — whatever happened to the blue ones? But that distinctive mint with a hole reminds me of my Dad, who always had a packet of Polo mints in his pocket5Wikipedia Contributors. 2022. ‘Rowntree’s’, Wikipedia (Wikimedia Foundation) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowntree%27s#1900_to_1945> [accessed 30 August 2022].






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