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  • Writer's picturePaul Jameson

Dule Trees - A Place You Didn't Want To Hang Out

I recently shared a post about 'Galley Hill and the Hangman's Gibbet'. The post focussed on prominent hills with this name (in the UK) often having been chosen as locations for gallows, from which victims were grotesquely displayed for all to see. A reminder of break our laws and, well, this could be you!


Anyway, and as a result of reading the post, one of my friends on Threads (thanks Sam) told me about 'Dule Trees'. It was a term I'd never heard of, but it turns out that, in Britain, these were trees that were used as a gallows for public hangings. These 'trees of lamentation' - a true term used - tended to be grown (or chosen) for being in prominent positions (such as atop hills) that were clearly visible from busy thoroughfares so that all passers-by were under no illusion that justice, in this particular area, is seen to be done. Place names thus, in Britain, were later changed to 'Galley' - or a derivative - so as not to have such grotesque connotations. In time, the hills original use and meaning of its name is often long forgot by locals. Indeed, there are a now a number of Galley Schools, Galley Roads, Galley Lanes, and the like, which may well be the haunt of...


You can imagine.

So we have the hills, and now we have the trees.

Dule Trees.

Dule is such a wonderful word. In Scottish and Middle English, it and its derivatives - dewle, dool, dole, dul and more - are all words that are meant to conjure up an image of grief and sorrow, or mental distress. Indeed, in Scotland (especially in the Borders) Doomsdales followed the route to the Gallows Hill, the final destination there - for the unfortunate criminals so charged - being the Dule Tree.

That tree of sorrow and pain.

So there you have it. Next time you see a big tree alone upon a hilltop - perhaps driving down the A1 of A19 - maybe, just maybe, you are looking at a Dule Tree.


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