Friday, 4 November 2011
The Beech Tree - Uses and Folklore.
For the last few weeks I've been driving past beautiful beech woods...today in the rain ...I decided to stop and go for a walk. Right now they are my favourite trees, looking wonderful with their fiery leaves. Tonight, I thought I'd write a blog about them...and it gave me a good excuse on a dark wet evening to get some books out, look on the Internet .and see what I could find. It's a bit of a list...and not really in any order...but I've learnt quite a bit.
Beech leaves used to be used to fill mattresses as an alternative to straw. In France these beds were known as 'lilts de parlement'- speaking beds.
Beech wood is god for making cogs for waterwheels, chairs, keels for ships, clogs, bowls and furniture.
The baskets made for collecting strawberries called a 'pottle' used to be made of woven strips of bark wood.
It is thought that piles of beechwood were driven into peaty marsh to make the foundations for Winchester Cathedral.The wood is used to smoke Herrings.
The nuts are sometimes used as a Coffee substitute.
Oil from the nuts used to be used for cooking and lighting.
Cresoline comes from the wood and used to be used as an antiseptic.
Beech leaves mixed with gin made a drink called 'beech-leaf noyau'.
The Druids thought the tree symbolised ancient knowledge and wisdom. Henwen the great white ancient sow, was said to posses great wisdom from eating nuts from the sacred tree.
The Beech is known as the 'Beech Queen' as consort to the 'Oak King'.
Helen of Troy was said to have carved her lovers initials onto the trunk of a beech tree.
This link is to a poem written on a beech tree trunk. http://berkshirehistory.com/odds/poem_tree.
Jason built the Argo out of beech.
Ogham, an Irish god, was credited with having written the Ogham Alphabet onto Beech wood tablets. http://ogham.lyberty.com/otable.html
Beech was cut into thin slices and was used to create the first books. The anglo-saxon called it 'Bok' and the Swedish word 'Bok' means both book and beech.
Beech roots often look like snakes. Snakes in Celtic Mythology are a symbol of wisdom and rebirth.
In Celtic tree mythology, it is known as the 'tree of wishes'. A fallen beech branch was known as an invitation from the wishing fairies. People would write on the branch and push the stick into the earth where the wish would be taken to he underworld for the Fairy Queen to consider.
You can make a diviner for water out of a y shaped beech stick. It's also know as a wishing rod. http://www.ehow.com/how_2068140_make-divining-rod.
Beech is the sacred wood of the summer solstice....and is a favourite for yule logs at Xmas.
The marks on beech trees where the old growth has stopped is known as the evil eye.
The Beech tree was revered by ancient Romans, because it was sacred to Diana, goddess of the moon, birth,woodland and wild animals.
The caged Beech,Burnham Beeches, Bucks - seen in a scene in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
Beech Avenue, Kingston Lacy, Wimbourne, Dorset.The Meikleour Beech Hedge,planted in 1745, North of Perth.