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Fortingall Circle


Situated almost in the mouth of Glen Lyon, Fortingall is considered to be one of the most interesting and picturesque villages in all of Scotland. And behind and above the single attractive street of houses, on the crest of a wooded escarpment, perches the site of Dun Gael, a fort of unrecorded age. It is alleged, remarkably, that this was the birthplace of no less than Pontius Pilate. If this seems but another Scots Myth, here is the story. The father, a Roman Officer, was sent on a mission of peace to Pictish King Metellanus, whose seat was at this Dun Geal. Whether the envoy brought his wife with him, or whether the mother of the child was a member of Metallanus's household, we do not know. But here Pilate was allegedly born.

But Fortingall can do even better. It also claims to have the oldest piece of growing vegetation in Europe. In the churchyard is the famous yew tree, dated at 3000 years of age. The church is also of great interest. Behind the porch is Adamnan's font. He was the Abbot of Iona in 697, and died in this area in 704. Inside the building is a 7th century monk's bell, shaped like a large alpine cow-bell. There are also a number of fragments of Celtic stone carvings, on the chancel window-ledge.

To the east, near the church, is a Stone Circle of nine uprights in groups of three; and there are new fewer than 14 circular forts in the area. Sir James MacGregor, the famous Dean of Lismore, was also Vicar of Fortingall, and died here in 1551. He compiled the Book of the Dean of Lismore in which many of the Gaelic poems of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries are collected.

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