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The Thorn Tree
Dunning's Thorn Tree has special significance for me. In the late 1920's a newspaper article noted: The old thorn tree has become the symbol of Dunning. When Dunning folks wander from their native heath, it is of the thorn tree they think when dreams take them back home. I can confirm this is true. In the late 60's my employer posted me to Kenya. In the centre of Nairobi was the New Stanley hotel, with it's open-air cafe called the Thorn Tree. The massive Acacia thorn tree in it's grounds was famous among back-packers throughout the world as a place to pin a message for friends to pick up when they pass. (Sadly it was cut down in 1997 and replaced by a message board.) Of course every time I took refreshment there I was reminded of home. Now, sometimes, Dunning's tree reminds me of Africa.
The original tree was a wild hawthorn from Dunning Den, planted in April 1716 to mark the burning of the village on a cold Saturday evening in January 1716 by the Jacobites, only a few months earlier. On a grassy mound, built up by a strong dyke, it stood in the centre of the village for 220 years. It was blown down in a gale in 1936. Shortly before that it was reported that 'It now shows distinct signs of age. Its twisted trunk is encased in metal, chains keep its branches together, while an iron pole props up one side of it.'
In 1937, Coronation year, the first of four replacements was planted. They all either died or failed to grow. The last attempt was in 1983 when David Morris planted a cultivated tree rather than a wild one, but it failed to develop as hoped.
However, in 1996 David Doig moved a wild hawthorn tree from Dunning Den onto a wooden pallet to grow on in his garden. On January 25, Burn's day, of Millennium year 2000, with help from Ian Philip and Arthur Wright, and community councillors Andrew Dickson and Tony Keene, David took that wild tree and planted it in the memorial spot in Thorntree Square (the 1983 tree being removed first). These photos show that there is good reason to hope the new tree will survive.
This is how it looks in Autumn 2015.
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