It is a place with an ominous ambience if you know what happened here. Just below the top of Gallowhill, deep in the woodland is a place of execution. It is said that the gallows were situated on a flat ledge just below the summit of the hill which has commanding views across the Moray Firth, and is the highest point for miles.
This was where many a person who upset the local landowners met their end, their corpses dangling from a gallows would have been visible for miles around. Details are sketchy, but the hill and woodlands are named after the execution site.
There are natural woodlands around the hill, mainly ancient caledonian pines and birches with oaks near the foot but with occasional examples all the way up to near the summit. Much has been planted now, with an array of giant alien commercial species and a wide range of more ornamental varieties closer to the ruined castle of Redcastle.
Redcastle claimed to be the oldest inhabited castle until it was abandoned as giant cracks appeared in the walls and it was deemed too expensive to repair or stop it from toppling into the gully behind. But it is clinging on gamely and still stands. It is from this ancient stronghold that local justice was meted out.
I found the flat place below the summit. It is now covered in birch, with the odd magnificent old pine. Whether the gallows was constructed or they just used a convenient tree – a common practice in the highlands (there is a fantastic gallows tree in Drumnadrochit, beside the Benleva Hotel, for example) is unclear.
The flat place is like a 100 yard long ledge, around the south side of the summit. It has a slight corner in the middle and I thought that would make the best location if deterent visibility was key. As I walked further along I saw an old pine. Bearing in mind that it can be difficult to age old pines, some really old ones are short and stunted and some young ones can be really tall. Perhaps nature has provided the perfect natural hanging tree?
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