Fortingall the village, church and 5,000 year old Yew
the name is believed to be derived from the Gaelic word
'fortair' (a stronghold) and 'cill' (a cell or
Archaeological evidence indicates the area has been
inhabited for more than 5,000 years. There are a number of stone
circles, standing stones and numerous large stones marked with
cupmarks. Three groups of standing stones clearly seen
from the road in the field east of the church.
Pontious Pilate - There is a local myth or
should we say traditon that Pontious Pilate was born at Fortingall
when his father visited the Caledonians as emissary from the
emperor Augustus. There is no hard eveidnce of this, but we do know
of Agricola's campaigns in to Scotland around 800 AD and the
eventual Roman front line to keep keep the Picts out of the rest of
Roman Britain was at one time along Strathearn and Strathmore.
There is strong evidence that Fortingall was an important
Christian Centre as early as the 7th century AD, when missionaries
from the monastery on the Island of Iona (on Scotland's west
coast), came to preach to the Picts at Fortingall. Fortingall was
an important route for monks from the Celtic church going to
meet emissaries from the Roman churches in Northumbria.
Pictish monastary - In the 1980s areal
photography highlighted crop marks showing what is believed to be a
large Pictish monastic complex. Two excavation trenches were
dug under the guidance of archaeologist Dr Oliver JT O'Grady, in
Fortingall Church has a number of really fascinating early
artifacts well viewing:-
- The 5,000 year old Yew tree - current
botanical opinion dates the yew treee in the church yard to
about 5,000 years old. There are time lines marked in the paving
stones near the tree, which helps to illustrate the Yew's great
age. The Yew Tree is well worth a visit to see in its own
- A 7th century Celtic Hand-Bell of a type that
is common in Ireland and used by missionaries of the Columba church
on Iona. This can be seen in Fortingall Church located in
a small nook in the church wall.
- Pictish stones - there are a number of very
well preserved Pictish stone crossses that can been see inside the
church. These were recovered from the walls of the old church which
was demolished in 1902. They are very crisp due to being protected
for many centuries from the elements, as a result of being buried
within the church walls.
- Celtic Font - A large font can be seen just to
the right of the church entrance. This font is of a very early
form, believed to date back to the 7th century.
- 7th century 'Incised cross slabs' - You can
see this standing against the south wall of the church, (next to it
is an early medieval slab with the three crosses). The incised
cross slab is believed to be from the 7th century and are common in
Ireland and in the ancient Scottish kingdom of Dalriada (south of
Oban in Argyll), but not seen anywhere else.
- The church yard - take your time to wonder
through Fortingall churchyard, you will find some fascinating grave
stones, including one dated 1715 marking where a
local stone mason is buried, it has a hammer, trowel, set
square and plumb line marked on his grave slab.
There is limited parking facilitates beside the church and