The Tree on the Hill

"The Tree on the Hill" is a short story written by horror author H. P. Lovecraft and his correspondent Duane W. Rimel. It was written in 1934 and published in 1940 in Polaris.


The story is written in first person. It depicts the main character exploring outside a city called Hampden and finding a special tree atop an unusual hill. From the hill, the man witnesses the Bitterroot Mountains, a seemingly impossible feat of geography. The tree makes him daydream about a temple or tomb in a land with three red suns. The temple was half-violet, half-blue. Some shadows attracted him into the inside where he saw three flaming eyes watching him. He awakes later in a different location with his clothing torn and dirty.

He possessed a camera and took many pictures of the tree to show them to his friend Theunis. Later, they examine the photographs and they see three shadows projected by the tree, indicating that there were three suns causing them, as he saw in his dream.

Theunis tells a story of a shadow or dark force which was repelled by an Egyptian priest, Ka-Nefer during the year of the Black Goat. He used a peculiar amber gem to divert the dark energy. Theunis uses a camera obscura, and the special gem to examine the photos taken earlier. The sight renders him unconscious. Theunis instructs the protagonist to burn the pictures and lock up the gem. He does as instructed, but glances at a drawing of the photograph made by Theunis. The protagonist recoils in horror at the sight of a clawed hand, with tendrils, reaching for a spot in the grass where the protagonist received the vision.


Theunis mentions that this story takes place during the year of the Black Goat, probably a reference to Lovecraft's invented deity Shub-Niggurath. Theunis recurs in Rimel's story "The Jewels of Charlotte" (Unusual Stories, May-June 1935), which may also have been revised by Lovecraft.[1]


  1. S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001, p. 227

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