Archive for Oak

Le Chêne des Hindrés, Brittany

Posted in Brittany, King Arthur, Legend, Tree, Woods with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2015 by mysearchformagic

The forest of Brocéliande is filled with magical places – standing stones, prehistoric tombs and miraculous fountains, many of them associated with Arthurian legend. It is also home to some natural magic in the form of several ancient trees. A while back I visited the incredible Chêne de Guillotin, and this time round I went to take a look at its younger but no less magical neighbour, the Chêne des Hindrés.

Unlike the Chêne de Guillotin, which sits on the edge of the forest in a pretty meadow, the Chêne des Hindrés lies hidden deep in the forest, around a kilometre from the nearest car park. A “Chêne” is an oak, and apparently “Hindrés” means damp, wet places, although I couldn’t see any signs of swampiness when I visited. The route to the tree is well-signposted and follows a clear path through the historic woodland.

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The ancient Chêne des Hindrés, Brittany

Even in this dense forest, the Chêne des Hindrés itself, with its monumental trunk and huge mass of snaking branches, is hard to miss. Apparently the tree is around five hundred years old, which is not hard to believe – it really is enormous! I particulary liked the fact that other, small plants had made their home on the oak’s massive branches, with small ferns sprouting from its broad boughs.

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The huge snaking boughs of the Chêne des Hindrés, Brittany

The Chêne des Hindrés reminded me of the Ents, those living, breathing and walking trees that feature in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, or even Enid Blyton’s charming Faraway Tree. Given its location, it is hardly suprising that the tree has also been associated with legend, and is sometimes referred to as the Chêne des Druides, or the Druid Oak. Supposedly Druidic ceremonies have been held here over the centuries, which makes sense – I can’t think of a better spot for invoking natural magic than this otherwordly place, the ancient heart of a mystical enchanted forest.

 

A Magical Doorway, Rochefort-en-Terre

Posted in Brittany, Castle, House with tags , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by mysearchformagic

Back to Brittany this week, more specifically to Rochefort-en-Terre. I spotted an intriguing doorway in the wall which surrounds the ancient chateau of this picture-postcard pretty Morbihan village.

A magical doorway, Rochefort-en-Terre

A magical doorway, Rochefort-en-Terre

I’d love to know what lies behind the strange carvings on the solid oak door. Unfortunately, as you can see, it is signposted as strictly ‘Privé’.

But then sometimes, when it comes to searching for magic,  a bit of mystery is more fun. Then you can really let your imagination run wild…

Le Chêne de Guillotin, Brocéliande

Posted in Brittany, Legend with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2013 by mysearchformagic

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.