Europe's oldest elm tree and a monument dedicated to a descendant of Robert the Bruce are to benefit from almost £100,000 in funding to protect Scotland’s heritage assets.

Circus Artspace has been awarded thousands for a community project to celebrate and showcase the historic Beauly Wych Elm tree.

The tree is located in the grounds of Beauly Priory and is believed to be the oldest of its type in Europe. 

It was reported last year that the tree. which first appears in medieval records in 1230, has now succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease, with only five per cent of the tree now living.

There is said to be an elm in Italy dating back 760 years, but none has survived to the 800 mark.


Sarah Franklin, a landscape manager at Historic Environment Scotland, described the Beauly elm as an “amazing tree” which was “gnarly and gothic in appearance”.

“It looks like something out of a Hammer horror film,” she added.

Kirsten Body, of Circus Artspace, said: “We are working in collaboration with artist Isabel McLeish to celebrate this important Wych Elm tree, which has been described as ‘living archaeology’.

“Sadly, the tree is dying of Dutch Elm Disease and had its last buds in 2021.

“Our forthcoming event on September 24, as part of Year of Stories 2022, brings together a new commissioned text from Highland writer Mandy Haggith as well as other invited tree health experts Phil Baarda (NatureScot) and Max Coleman (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh).”

Falkirk Council has been awarded £32,500 to repair the Bruce Obelisk and reinstate it to its original position atop the Kinnaird family tomb in the Larbert Old Parish Church Graveyard.

The obelisk is a monument to James Bruce of Kinnaird, a descendant of Robert the Bruce and Mary Dundas.


It was created by locally-based Carron Company, an internationally significant business that was at the heart of the industrial revolution in Scotland.

Falkirk Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said the funds would “bring the story of the world-famous Carron Works back to life”.

A total of £98,988 was awarded by Historic Environment Scotland to nine projects in the Highlands, Angus, Falkirk, Edinburgh, East Lothian, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.   

The Prince’s Foundation was given £20,000 to develop its Building Craft Programme, which provides training in heritage craft skills to help ensure their preservation.

The course offers an eight-month programme of applied study to 12 craftspeople at the beginning of their careers.

Michael Goodger, built environment education manager at The Prince’s Foundation, said: “As many workers in the sector now reach retirement age, it is vital that these skills are passed on to the next generation of master craftspeople.”

A project in Drumnadrochit, Strathglass and Soirbhreas will also receive funding to develop heritage trails.

The Historic Environment Support Fund is used to support a variety of one-off, heritage-related projects in Scotland and has been running since 2016, with more than £1 million distributed since it was launched.   

Amy Eastwood, head of grants at HES, said: “We’re pleased to support the recipients with almost £100,000 funding as part of the Historic Environment Support Fund.

“These projects bring positive contributions to communities throughout Scotland – from traditional skills training to engaging the public with our history and heritage."

A £14,808 grant was also awarded to re-thatch an 18th century C-listed cottage in the borders area while £2, 480 will be used to train military veterans in archaeological excavations in Cockenzie in East Lothian.