Why Schietree?




An early draft of my first novel ms, Kilea, formed the thesis for my PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. Kilea is a fragile girl growing up in isolation with her controlling ‘father’ on an island off the coast of Scotland, where she is haunted by human and nonhuman spirits who may or may not be a product of her imagination.  In Scots Gaelic these spirits are known as Sith, rendered phonetically as Schie in the novel.


A schietree, therefore, is a spirit or fairy tree; these trees grew in Scotland and Ireland. Some were places to seek help/pacify the spirits over issues of fertility or infant mortality and are still, apparently, to be found today with coins embedded in the bark, or rags tied around the branches. They may have been considered gateways to the fairyland/underworld. Others were simply large, impressive trees, often hawthorns (one of my favourites for their heady-scented white flowers in spring), growing in an open clearing, or another significant place, that found their way into local legend in their own distinct ways.


There aren’t any schietrees in Kilea, although there are plenty of other indicators of place, of Scottish (and particularly Island) cultureThe plurality of meanings and readings, coupled with their generally fascinating appearance is why I chose the name. I don’t believe in fairies (sorry J.M. Barrie) but I will be forever enthralled to story, stick, earth, rock.

One response to “Why Schietree?

  1. j’aime l’Esprit en l’Arbre 😉

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