Monday, 9 November 2015

'Clootie tree' with trainers

I popped into Spylaw Park today, braving the rain and wind, to ckeck a few things in advance of a guided walk along the Water of Leith I'm giving later in the week. I'm covering the walk for another tutor so wanted to make sure I knew what all his notes referred to. I was intrigued by his reference to a tree full of trainers in the park, so went along to investigate. I can't beleive I've never noticed this tree before (though obviously it's more obvious at this time of year than in summer when the branches will be covered in leaves!):

Click on the photos for a closer look, and you'll see the branches are festooned in trainers! (Sorry the photos are so grey, but that shows how dull the weather is today!)

There's an old Celtic tradition of hanging clothing in trees near holy wells. Pieces of cloth (clooties) are dipped in the well water and then tied to a branch of the clootie tree while praying to the spirit of the well - these days usually a saint but originally it would have been a nature spirit or a goddess. This is done either to seek healing or to honour the saint or spirit of the well.

This tree though, as far as I know is nowhere near a sacred well and is likely more influenced by the modern American tradition of shoe toassing and shoe trees.

But it will certainly be a talking point on the guided walk. (And I hope the weather improves for the walk too!)


Jenn Jilks said...

What I love about your posts is that I often don't have a clue what you are talking about but I always learn something!!!!

Pete Thompson said...

There's also one in Northumberland near Sweethope Loughs. Some friends of mine - the folk/jazz group, Landermason - christened it the Tree of Soles and wrote a wonderful song about it.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a strange tradition. I hope it doesn't damage the tree and discourage birds and squirrels from nesting there.

Bill said...

An "American tradition" I have never understood.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

How can they afford it! I know I can't! Had a decent run out today myself.

RG said...


Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks Jennifer

Thanks Pete, I'll look out the song!

Ms Sparrow, it is a strange tradition, it's only the one tree in the whole of Edinburgh so the effect isn't big, but you do have a good point about the birds and squirrels.

Bill - I understand the original Celtic tradition better than i understand the trainers idea

Simon - I have no idea, andlots of the trainers looksvery similar in design so it may have been an 'art' project

Rabbits Guy - indeed!

Lowcarb team member said...

What a strange thing to do, but interesting to read about.
Hope the walk goes well.

All the best Jan