‘Peden’s Shroud’ and Peden’s Tree in Auchinleck #History #Trees #Scotland
The traditional story of Alexander Peden’s shroud is found in a poem by the Reverend James Dodds. When Peden’s body was exhumed in Auchinleck graveyard, the shroud is said to have been blown by the wind up on to the branch of a nearby plane tree, i.e., a Sycamore. In Scotland, the Sycamore is also known as the ‘Plane Tree’.
The Sycamore/Plane Tree in question appears to be the original Peden’s Tree that stood by the burial site which had been replaced by 1891. Whether the replacement tree still stands remains to be discovered. If it does, it would now be well over a hundred years old. It is possible that the new tree planted in the late nineteenth century was another sycamore tree.
Dodds’ poem was published in Lays of the Covenanters (1880), 213.
A Tradition of Auchinleck, where his body was at first interred,
ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR 1685 [an error for 1686].
THEY drag the corpse from its place of rest,
And rend the shroud wherein it was drest,
And the bones of the saint, which were sealed in the tomb,
Are in mockery raised for a traitor’s doom.
The shroud, borne aloft on the wings of the blast,
Around a plane-tree’s branch is cast;
And from that hour until this day
That branch hath withered and died away!
A hundred springs are past and gone,
And sixty more since then have flown;
Whilst wood and vale with beauty teem,
By Lugar’s sweetly winding stream,
When all is fresh and green around,
No bud upon that branch is found.
Blacken’d and bare,
With its point in the air,
Fixed it remains
As in dumb despair:
Nor sun, nor wind, nor dewy cloud,
Can loosen the curse of Peden’s shroud!’
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