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Llangernyw Yew

Llangernyw Yew

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The Llangernyw Yew is an ancient yew (Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata
Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may be now known as the English yew, or European yew.-Description:It is a small-...

) in the churchyard of the village of Llangernyw
Llangernyw is a rural, mostly Welsh-speaking, village in Conwy County Borough, north Wales. The population was 960 in 2001, 67% Welsh-speaking...

 in Conwy County Borough, North Wales
North Wales
North Wales is the northernmost unofficial region of Wales. It is bordered to the south by the counties of Ceredigion and Powys in Mid Wales and to the east by the counties of Shropshire in the West Midlands and Cheshire in North West England...

. The tree is fragmented and its core part has been lost, leaving several enormous offshoots. The girth of the tree at the ground level is 10.75 m.


This male yew tree lives in the churchyard of St. Dygain's Church in Llangernyw village, North Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

. Although it is very hard to tell the age of Yew trees, it is believed to be aged between 4,000 years and 5,000 years old, making it the second or third oldest individual (non-clonal colony
Clonal colony
A clonal colony or genet is a group of genetically identical individuals that have grown in a given location, all originating vegetatively from a single ancestor. In plants, an individual in such a population is referred to as a ramet...

) living organism in the world. The tree took root sometime in the prehistoric Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and is still a thriving, healthy and growing tree.

In the mid-1990s the church oil tank stood in the space between the two trunk fragments, however, this was moved when it was realised that the tree was a living Ancient Monument
Ancient monument
An ancient monument is an early historical structure or monument worthy of preservation and study due to archaeological or heritage interest. In the United Kingdom it is a legal term, differing from the American term National Monument in being far more numerous and always man-made...

. When this tank was built a lot of the dead wood was removed from the site which makes ageing the tree more difficult for dendrochronologists
Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year...

. In June 2002 the Tree Council, in celebration of the Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee
A Golden Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 50th anniversary.- In Thailand :King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 9 June 1996.- In the Commonwealth Realms :...

 of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II designated the Llangernyw Yew tree one of the fifty Great British trees in recognition of its place in national heritage.

The churchyard gate holds a certificate from the Yew Tree Campaign in 2002, signed by Professor David Bellamy
David Bellamy
David James Bellamy OBE is a British author, broadcaster, environmental campaigner and botanist. He has lived in County Durham since 1960.-Career:...

 certifying that the tree is dated as between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.

The Legend of the Angelystor

According to local tradition the church yard of Llangernyw is inhabited by an ancient and malign spirit known as the "Recording Angel" or Angelystor that has the power to curse. Every year at Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 a booming voice could be heard foretelling the names of parishioners who were to die the following year. According to tradition a local man, Siôn Ap Rhobert, doubting the truth of the legend challenged the existence of the spirit one Halloween night only to hear his own name called out. He died within the year (Welsh Folklore, Rev. Elias Owen
Elias Owen (Welsh cleric)
Rev. Elias Owen was a Welsh cleric and antiquarian whose works include The Old Stone Crosses of the Vale of Clwyd, 1886 and Welsh Folk-Lore, 1896.-Family:...

, 1896).

See also

  • List of oldest trees
  • Fortingall Yew
    Fortingall Yew
    The Fortingall Yew is an ancient yew in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland. Various estimates have put its age at between 2,000 and 5,000 years; recent research into yew tree ages suggests that it is likely to be nearer the lower limit of 2,000 years...

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