Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Graveyard Tree

Well Happy Halloween... This is a pumpkin free area!

This is a Yew from St James church. Yews are known as the Graveyard Tree as they are so often seen in church grounds - did someone plant them there for a reason?

Old Yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Thy fibres net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.


Well it's actually the other way around, someone planted the church where the yew was growing. The yew was a sacred tree to our pagan ancestors so when we started to build somewhere to worship it made sense to build where we'd been praying for centuries.

The Oldest Tree?

The Fortingall Yew Tree in Glen Lyon, Perthshire, Scotland is estimated as being between 3,000 and 5,000 years old. According to Alan Meredith, a man who has devoted his life to collecting information about Yews and campaigning on their behalf, the tree may be even older than this, possibly up to 9000 years.
The usual scientific ways of dating a tree, by counting the annual rings in the trunk or by carbon dating, are not accurate when it comes to Yews. The trees have a complex growth pattern and may stop growing (and putting on annual rings) for long periods of time. The Totteridge Yew in Herefordshire was measured in 1677 by Sir John Cullum as having a girth of 26 ft at 3 ft from the ground. When Alan Meredith made the measurement in 1982 and 1991 it was still the same. There had been no growth in width in 314 years, even though the tree is very much alive!
Another Yew, which was carbon dated as being 187 years old, was known to a 1000 years old from historical evidence!
The Yew has an astounding ability to recover and re-grow when it has been damaged, even if humans think the tree 'has had it'.. It can therefore be said, without exaggeration, (certainly from a human point of view) that the Yew can live forever. There is no biological reason why the tree should die.
Tradition also has it that Pontius Pilate was born here to a local woman, whilst his father, a Roman official, was on a mission from Caesar to a Caledonian King. It is said that the man who later had Jesus Christ crucified, played in this tree as a child.
This most venerable of trees grows in the Fortingall church yard, which is open all year long. No admission charge.

Pretty amazing huh!

Anyway to the Tune...

It had to be Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds today - he was made for Halloween!


Blogger Pod said...

how interesting. i never nyew that..wah wah waaah. sorry

11:35 PM  
Blogger Mountainboy said...


10:18 AM  
Blogger Mandy said...

O I do love yew trees and graves too.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Pod said...

n-yew as in knew........pathetic i know

9:11 PM  
Blogger Mountainboy said...

Pod that is terrible, but not as bad as me not spotting it...

12:28 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Very interesting post, and I love the contrast of the picture.

4:50 AM  

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