Monday, 19 February 2018

The Llangernyw Yew: The Oldest Living Thing in Europe

The Llangernyw Yew is an ancient yew in the village of Llangernyw, Conwy, North Wales. The yew is fragmented and its core part has been lost, leaving numerous huge offshoots. The girth of the tree at the ground level is 10.75 m, split trunk section where the church oil tank was formerly located. The Llangernyw Yew is an ancient tree, ad its cleft trunk appears as a living portal to the world of the dead, with a small field of tombstones resting just on the other side of wooded gateway. The Llangernyw Yew was planted sometime in the prehistoric Bronze Age and amazingly it's still growing.

This male yew tree lives in the churchyard of St. Digain's, very hard to determine the age of yew trees. Although the churchyard gate holds a certificate from the Yew Tree Campaign in 2002, according to all the data the tree is dated to between 4,000 and 5,000 years old. There is an alternative theory that presumes the tree is only as old as the adjacent saint site, which would make it around 1,500 years old. In the mid-1990s the church oil tank stood in the space between the two trunk fragments; however, this was moved when it was realized that the tree was ancient. The yew is designated one of the fifty Great British trees in recognition of its place in national heritage.

When this tank was built a lot of the dead wood was removed from the site which makes dating the age of the tree more difficult for dendrochronologists. This makes the Llangernyw Yew a likely candidate for one of the oldest still-standing trees in Great Britain. Due in no small part to this, the yew was designated as one of the Fifty Great British Trees in 2002. Local says the church of Llangernyw is inhabited by an ancient spirit known as “Angelystor”. Every year on Halloween and 31 July the spirit is said to appear in the church and solemnly announces, in Welsh, the names of those parish members who will die within the year.