Birnam, Perth and Kinross

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  • Perth and Kinross
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56°33′25″N3°34′34″W / 56.557°N 3.576°W / 56.557; -3.576 Coordinates: 56°33′25″N3°34′34″W / 56.557°N 3.576°W / 56.557; -3.576

Birnam is a village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is located 12 miles (19 km) north of Perth on the A9 road, the main tourist route through Perthshire, in an area of Scotland marketed as Big Tree Country. [1] The village originated from the Victorian era with the coming of the railway in 1856, although the place and name is well known because William Shakespeare mentioned Birnam Wood in Macbeth :


MACBETH: I will not be afraid of death and bane, till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.

Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, scene 3. [2]

Prior to the construction of the railway, the only substantial building on the site of the present village was the church of Little Dunkeld parish, which still stands in its ancient position within a graveyard within the village. Dunkeld, to whose monastery Kenneth MacAlpin, the first King of Scotland, moved the bones of St. Columba around the middle of the ninth century, and which is notable for its cathedral, lies on the opposite bank of the river.


Dunkeld and Birnam Railway Station Dunkeld and Birnam Railway Station - - 1587361.jpg
Dunkeld and Birnam Railway Station

In 1977, Birnam, along with neighbouring Dunkeld and Little Dunkeld, was bypassed by A9. [3] The village is now approximately one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and two hours from Inverness, by car. There are regular bus and coach services to Birnam and Dunkeld along the A9, with long-distance coaches operated by Scottish Citylink. [4] There is access by rail at Dunkeld & Birnam railway station on the Highland Main Line route between Perth and Inverness. Most services on the route extend to either Edinburgh Waverley or Glasgow Queen Street; on Sundays only a southbound train operated by the East Coast Main Line operator extends to London King's Cross via Edinburgh, although there is no corresponding northbound service from London. [5] A daily (except Saturday) London service is offered by the overnight Caledonian Sleeper trains to and from London Euston. [6]

Notable people

Glen Birnam by John Everett Millais, 1890 John Everett Millais - Glen Birnam.JPG
Glen Birnam by John Everett Millais, 1890

John Everett Millais, who painted many local landscapes, and Beatrix Potter, with her family, often visited Birnam. Potter drafted her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit , at Eastwood House whilst writing a story and picture letter to child friend Noel Moore on 4 September 1893. [7] [8] There is an exhibition and garden dedicated to Potter and her characters in Birnam. [9]

Dr George Smyttan FRSE HEIC (1789-1863) was born and raised in Dunkeld, and retained links to Birnam all his life.


There is an ancient tree, the Birnam Oak, standing a few hundred metres from the centre of Birnam on Murthly Estate. Traditionally, it was known as "The Hangman's Tree". [10] The Birnam Oak is believed to be the only remaining tree from the Birnam Wood of Macbeth. [11]

In addition to The Beatrix Potter Exhibition and Garden, Birnam also has a community-run arts and performance centre and library, Birnam Arts and Conference Centre. [12]

The Birnam Highland Games is the location of the World Haggis Eating Championships. [13]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perthshire</span> Historic administrative division in Scotland

Perthshire, officially the County of Perth, is a historic county and registration county in central Scotland. Geographically it extends from Strathmore in the east, to the Pass of Drumochter in the north, Rannoch Moor and Ben Lui in the west, and Aberfoyle in the south; it borders the counties of Inverness-shire and Aberdeenshire to the north, Angus to the east, Fife, Kinross-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire to the south and Argyllshire to the west. It was a local government county from 1890 to 1930.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A9 road (Scotland)</span> Major road in Scotland

The A9 is a major road in Scotland running from the Falkirk council area in central Scotland to Scrabster Harbour, Thurso in the far north, via Stirling, Bridge of Allan, Perth and Inverness. At 273 miles (439 km), it is the longest road in Scotland and the fifth-longest A-road in the United Kingdom. Historically it was the main road between Edinburgh and John o' Groats, and has been called the spine of Scotland. It is one of the three major north–south trunk routes linking the Central Belt to the Highlands - the others being the A82 and the A90.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Highland Main Line</span> Railway line in Scotland

The Highland Main Line is a railway line in Scotland. It is 118 mi (190 km) long and runs through the Scottish Highlands linking a series of small towns and villages with Perth at one end and Inverness at the other. Today, services between Inverness and Edinburgh, Glasgow and London use the line. At Inverness the line connects with the Far North Line, the Aberdeen-Inverness Line and services on the Kyle of Lochalsh Line. All trains are diesel-powered.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perth railway station (Scotland)</span> Railway station in Perth, Scotland

Perth railway station is a railway station located in the city of Perth, Scotland, on the Glasgow to Dundee line, and the Highland Main Line. It is managed by ScotRail, who provide almost all of the services.

Birnam may refer to:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stirling railway station (Scotland)</span> Railway station in Stirling, Scotland

Stirling railway station is a railway station located in Stirling, Scotland. It is located on the former Caledonian Railway main line between Glasgow and Perth. It is the junction for the branch line to Alloa and Dunfermline via Kincardine and is also served by trains on the Edinburgh to Dunblane Line and long-distance services to Dundee and Aberdeen and to Inverness via the Highland Main Line.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dunkeld</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Dunkeld is a town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The location of a historic cathedral, it lies on the north bank of the River Tay, opposite Birnam. Dunkeld lies close to the geological Highland Boundary Fault, and is frequently described as the "Gateway to the Highlands" due to its position on the main road and rail lines north. Dunkeld has a railway station, Dunkeld & Birnam, on the Highland Main Line, and is about 25 kilometres north of Perth on what is now the A9 road. The main road formerly ran through the town, however following modernisation of this road it now passes to the west of Dunkeld.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gleneagles railway station</span> Railway station in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Gleneagles railway station serves the town of Auchterarder in Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dunkeld & Birnam railway station</span> Railway station in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Dunkeld & Birnam railway station serves the town of Dunkeld and village of Birnam in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is located on the Highland Main Line, 15 miles 31 chains (24.8 km) north of Perth and is the first stop on the line north of there, before Pitlochry. Most services are operated by ScotRail, who also manage the station. LNER and Caledonian Sleeper also call some services here.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pitlochry railway station</span> Railway station in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Pitlochry railway station is a railway station serving the town of Pitlochry in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is managed by ScotRail and is located on the Highland main line, 28 miles 21 chains (45.5 km) from Perth, between Dunkeld & Birnham and Blair Atholl.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingussie railway station</span> Railway station in the Scottish Highlands

Kingussie railway station serves the town of Kingussie, Inverness-shire in the Highland Council Area of Scotland. The station is managed by ScotRail and is on the Highland Main Line, 71 miles 43 chains (115.1 km) from Perth, between Newtonmore and Aviemore.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blair Atholl railway station</span> Railway station in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Blair Atholl railway station is a railway station serving the town of Blair Atholl, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The station is managed by ScotRail and is on the Highland Main Line, 35 miles 9 chains (56.5 km) from Perth, between Pitlochry and Dalwhinnie. There is a crossover at the north end of the station to allow trains to turn back if the line south to Pitlochry is closed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dalguise</span> Human settlement in Scotland

Dalguise is a settlement in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is situated on the western side of the River Tay on the B898 road, 5 miles north of Dunkeld. Located there is Dalguise House, a place where, from the age of four, Beatrix Potter stayed annually with her family throughout the summer, from May till the end of the salmon season.

The Perth and Dunkeld Railway was a Scottish railway company. It was built from a junction with the Scottish Midland Junction Railway at Stanley, north of Perth, to a terminus at Birnam, on the south bank of the River Tay opposite Dunkeld.

The Scottish Midland Junction Railway was authorised in 1845 to build a line from Perth to Forfar. Other companies obtained authorisation in the same year, and together they formed a route from central Scotland to Aberdeen. The SMJR opened its main line on 4 August 1848. Proposals to merge with other railways were rejected by Parliament at first, but in 1856 the SMJR merged with the Aberdeen Railway to form the Scottish North Eastern Railway. The SNER was itself absorbed into the larger Caledonian Railway in 1866. The original SMJR main line was now a small section of a main line from Carlisle and central Scotland to Aberdeen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Birnam Oak</span> Famous tree in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

The Birnam Oak is an example of Sessile oak at Birnam, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Sometimes known as Macbeth's oak, as it is a relic of Birnam Wood, mentioned in William Shakespeare's play, the tree is found in a strip of woodland on the south bank of the River Tay. The trunk is 5.5 metres (18 ft) wide and its large spreading branches have latterly been supported on a number of struts to prevent them from collapsing under their own weight. The exact age is unknown, but the girth suggests an age of around 600 years old which would mean it was already a mature tree at the time of Shakespeare's presumed visit to Perthshire in 1589. The tree is listed by Forestry and Land Scotland as one of Scotland's most famous oak trees.

Birnam Arts

Birnam Arts is a multipurpose arts centre in Birnam, Perthshire, central Scotland. It is also known as the Birnam Arts and Conference Centre, and was originally named the Birnam Institute. It is a not for profit organisation owned by the community.

Charles Macintosh (1839–1922), known as 'the Perthshire Naturalist', was a musician and self-taught amateur naturalist from Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland. He, with his younger brother James, who was a fiddler and himself a composer, represented the third generation of an important musical family in the area. Their grandfather James (1791-1876) had learned fiddle from Niel Gow, who also lived in Inver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Niel Gow's Oak</span>

Niel Gow's Oak is a 300-year-old tree near Dunkeld and Birnam, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. It is closely associated with the Scottish fiddler and composer Niel Gow, who lived in nearby Inver. Gow is said to have composed many of his most famous tunes whilst sitting beneath the oak. The connection is commemorated by a plaque and engraved bench. The tree has been entered into the Scottish and European Tree of the Year competitions. The tree was badly damaged by storms in 2011 and 2012.


  1. "Tay Forest Park: Tall Trees & Big Views" (PDF). Forestry and Land Scotland. 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  2. "Macbeth, Act 5, scene 3". Shakespeare Online. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  3. "Thomas Telford's Bridge". Dunkeld & Birnam Tourism Association. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  4. "Timetable:Edinburgh/Inverness" (PDF). Scottish CityLink Coaches Ltd. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  5. "Timetable: Edinburgh & Glasgow - Inverness (20 May 2018 – 8 Dec 2018)" (PDF). ScotRail. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  6. "Timetable: London - Inverness (20 May 2018 – 8 Dec 2018)". Caledonian Sleeper. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  7. "Beatrix Potter's hidden Scottish link". BBC News. 13 July 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  8. "History". Eastwood House. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  9. "Beatrix Potter Exhibition and Garden". Dunkeld & Birnam Tourism Association. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  10. Smout, T. C., MacDonald, R. and Watson, Fiona (2007) A History of the Native Woodlands of Scotland 1500-1920. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN   978-0-7486-3294-7. p.78.
  11. "The special qualities of the National Scenic Areas" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage. 2010. pp. 127–135. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  12. "About Birnam Arts". Birnam Arts. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  13. "Scot claims haggis eating crown". BBC News. 30 August 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2020.