The Cathedral of Trees is our special place. It’s in the middle of the forestry. The nave and apse are made out of yew-trees, the stained glass windows are the colour of sunshine or moonshine filtered through pines, the roof is painted with rainbows and clouds and stars.
— Anne Lorne Gillies, Folk Singer
 Nave in Winter

Nave in Winter

Photography provided by Harriet Moll


Alexander Mackay, a Businessman with many interests at home and abroad, bought the Estate of Glencruitten near Oban in 1916 after his former home in Broughty Ferry burned down.  Although in his sixties, he was a man of huge energy and soon started a programme of forestation over much of the estate which at the time was mostly moorland and rough grass.

Alexander and Edith 1920s 001.jpg

Planting trees was a way of bringing the land into useful production, it was also a way of contributing to the replacement of woodlands lost to the nation through the demand for timber during the Great War.   It also gave employment to local people, many of them ex servicement recently returning from the trenches and in need of work.

As the years passed, Mackay noticed that the trees inone valley, a beautiful spot with a view towards Ben Cruachan, failed to flourish.  Rather than abandon the area, he decided to redeem it, by draining the land and and creating a 'Cathedral of Trees'.

The year was 1921, a time when many local villages were creating monuments to the fallen.  Mackay saw his Cathedral of Trees as his memorial to the war - a living memorial - which as it grew would remain as a sign of peace and hope in the future. 

Altar and choir stalls.JPG

Altar and Choir stalls

Sadly, over the years, the Cathedral has fallen into some decline, but in 2016 the site and some 5 hectares of surrounding woodland was transferred into the ownership of a charity, The Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees (SCIO), which has 3 main aims

  • To restore and maintain the Cathedral and surrounding woodlands using methods sensitive to the local biodiversity) in order to create a living sacred space open to all.
  • To upgrade and improve the visitor access and to support a membership of interested individuals and groups
  • To develop the Cathedral as a resource of spiritual, horticultural and historic interest available to the local community and to visitors/pilgrims form near and far.


 Volunteers working on the paths 2017

Volunteers working on the paths 2017