Traditional Orchards

Orchards have long been a feature for many communities around Britain. They can play an important part in the cultural and social life of communities, but also have significant roles as biodiversity hotspots and local economic actors.

Traditional orchards - those that are well established and mature - are an ongoing strand of the work in which we have experience and expertise.


Creating Orchard Management Plans for
16 Historic Orchards on the Carselands of the Tay

Building on my previous study of the Carse of Gowrie, this piece of work is a further step in securing the future to these historic orchards.  We were successful in tendering for this contract, which contributes to a Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund application. The clients were Tay Landscape Partnership and the Historic Orchard Forum. Rose Clarkson (formerly of SNH) joined me to provide a greater depth on biodiversity assessment.  Engaging with the keepers of these orchards was a key element the participative approach that we adopted. 

The main report covers overarching issues, methodology and a summary of findings. 

Of the 16 individual orchard management plans, 14 are for private orchards and are not published here.  2 of the orchards are managed by public bodies, namely Historic Scotland and Network Rail, and those management plans are given below.

Main Report

Elcho Castle Orchard Management Plan (3.3Mb)

West Oaks (West) Orchard Management Plan (2.7Mb)

A List of Varieties of Orchard Fruit Trees found to do well in Scotland

As part of the above project to develop Orchard Management Plans, a list of suggested varieties was collated in consultation with various Scottish orchard experts - so this was a wholly collaborative effort.  Contributors are named in the document.  Modern and heritage varieties are given.  It is hoped that this will be a useful resource for those wanting to select varieties that do well in our conditions. Feel free to email me comments on this document. 

List of Orchard Tree Varieties for Scotland: as xls spreadsheet file or as pdf file

Orchard Replant Disease

As an unfunded ancillary piece of research that contributes to the value of the management plans, a discussion paper has been prepared on disease which has potential to be highly damaging, particularly if replanting is carried out soon after the loss of the original tree.  However, a disclaimer; this is not an authoritative document, it is the result of a brief piece of secondary research, and intended to provide a basis for preliminary guidance and further discussion.  Feel free to email me comments on this document. 

Discussion Paper on Orchard Replant Disease

Reviving the Clyde Valley Orchards; The Way Forward

As part of a major project, and building towards a Stage 2 Heritage Lottery Fund application, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership contracted us to undertake a Strategic Review together with an Survey update, and a Consultation of Stakeholders.  The outcome was a coherent suite of  recommended projects complete with an Action Plan. A key recommendation was the use of social enterprise and valued-added orchard products to revive an economic rationale for the orchards.

Main Report (5.7Mb)


Mapping Orchards in Central Scotland

We have been successful in securing funding to carry out an ambitious orchard mapping project in the whole of central Scotland. The project has a dedicated website at

The project is designed to collate existing and new sources of data, in order to provide a firmer foundation for the regeneration of orchards in Scotland.


Orchards of Fife's Tay Coast

Although north east Fife is not known for orchards, there have been large numbers of orchards at the numerous comfortable rural properties. The survey found a surprisingly large number of walled garden in the area. The grander walled gardens are predicatably dated from the 19th century, but there were many walled gardens containing fruit trees that pre-date this.

This survey does not duplicate any sites surveyed in the Newburgh Survey of 2003 (below), and so for a full picture of north eath Fife, both surveys should be considered.

The full report for Orchards of Fife's Tay Coast is available here for download.

Full report (2Mb)


Survey of Traditional Orchards in the Forth Valley 2009

The Forth Valley including Falkirk, Clackmannanshire and Stirlingshire has had a rich orchard history - particularly those areas that have ecclesiastical connections. This is particularly true of the Carse of Stirlingshire which was noted for its pear orchards on lands originally farmed by the Monks of Cambusnethan.

The full report for Survey of Traditional Orchards in the Forth Valley is available here for download.

Full report (2Mb)


Ancient Orchards beside the River Tay

The history and current circumstances of orchards on both banks of the Tay has been brought together in a paper by
Dr Crispin W. Hayes published in September 2008. The paper summarises the work carried out in Newburgh and the Carse of Gowrie, and puts that work in the wider historical context.

The paper was presented at the Orchards and Groves Conference at Sheffield. It is published in
Landscape Archaeology and Ecology (Vol 7: 2008)
and is available here for download;
Ancient Orcards Paper (900kb)

Carse of Gowrie Orchards

In 2007, we conducted a benchmark survey on the Carse of Gowrie - between Perth and Dundee - to determine what remained of the historic orchards there. The survey found that most orchards had been lost, and of those that remained there were only 9 with significant numbers of trees remaining. The client, Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust, embarked on awareness-raising activity, and we were able to assist them by facilitating the formation of a local orchard organisation.

The Carse of Gowrie survey report is available
for download;
Full report (1.8Mb) and Summary Sheet (280kb)

The Fruit Town of Newburgh in Fife

Newburgh lies on the south bank of the River Tay. This ancient place is a town of fruit trees. Long gardens radiate from High Street, and these gardens contain mature trees - apples, pears and plums - numbering approximately 1000 in the town itself.

In 2003 we set out to conduct an exhaustive survey of mature fruit trees in the Town, working with and on behalf of Newburgh Orchard Group (NOG). The survey intended to create a historical snapshot of the orchards and also form the foundation for further development work.

The survey recorded data about individual trees, about orchards and their keepers. Anecdotal and personal accounts were an important part of the survey.

The Newburgh survey report is available for free download;
Full report (940kb) and Summary Sheet (330kb)