Le Chêne de Guillotin, Brocéliande

I’ve already written about the Val Sans Retour, a distinctly mystical part of the Forest of Brocéliande, and the strange legend surrounding the Jardin aux Moines nearby. Not far away can be found le Chêne de Guillotin (the Guillotin Oak) a huge, ancient and magical tree with a fascinating history.

The Guillotin Oak

The Guillotin Oak

The size of the tree, which clocks in at 16 metres high and almost 10 metres in circumference, suggests an age of around 1000 years. Links have been made between the tree and the 12th Century prophet Éon, who lived somewhere nearby, and as such the tree is sometimes referred to as the Chêne Éon. More famously, this mighty oak served as a refuge for the Abbot Guillotin, who hid in the huge crevice which can still be seen in the trunk, during the troubled times of the French Revolution.

The crevice in the trunk of the Guillotin Oak

The crevice in the trunk of the Guillotin Oak

Peering inside today, visitors can find a small, dark space – cosy enough perhaps, but not somewhere that you would want to linger for long. It served its purpose for the Abbot though, who stayed there for many days and lived to tell the tale.

Inside the Guillotin Oak

Inside the Guillotin Oak

I visited in early spring, when the tree looks stark and lifeless, but in the summer it sprouts a canopy of vibrant leaves, and is obviously still growing strong despite being one of the oldest living things on earth.

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4 Responses to “Le Chêne de Guillotin, Brocéliande”

  1. Large trees seems to attract legends. Back several years ago, I visited Lithuania’s Zemaitija National Park, where there was a tree called the Witches’ Ash. There’s a legend, but I’ve never run into an English language translation of it that’s readable.

    • Yes, I guess anything so old and striking is bound to attract stories and legends. With this one though, I kind of suspect that for the once the stories might be true.

  2. What an absolutely delicious blog you have here – I’m so pleased to have found you in Blogland. I’m not sure that I’d describe what I look for as magic, but I certainly believe that some places have an extraordinary atmosphere – sometimes I feel I’m catching a glimpse into the past, occasionally I find a site that transports me entirely to another time, and it’s these connections that I’m really searching for. Anny

    • Thanks for your kind words. I have had great fun writing the blog, and it has led me to many new experiences and places, but it is especially nice to have others joining me on my journey!

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