‘Britain’s oldest tree’ is discovered in a Welsh churchyard and it’s more than FIVE THOUSAND years old
A tiny village is believed to be home to Britain’s oldest tree – a yew that first took took root more than 5,000 years ago.
The majestic yew that lives in in a Welsh churchyard was 3,000 years old when Jesus Christ was born, according to tree ageing experts.
Experts have run tests on the tree in the St Cynog’s churchyard at Defynnog near Sennybridge, Powys, including DNA and ring-dating.
There are hundreds of ancient yew trees dating back at least 600 years across Britain, but the 60-foot-wide giant at St Cynog’s is believed to be the most ancient.
Tree ageing expert Janis Fry, 64, who has studied yews for more than 40 years, said: ‘I’m convinced this is the oldest tree in Europe
‘It was planted on the north side of the ancient burial mound which is now the churchyard, probably in honour of a neolithic chieftain.
‘It is so old that it has split into two halves – one 40ft (12 metres) wide and the other 20 ft (6 metres) wide.
‘Its DNA has been tested by the Forestry Institute and its ring count is 120 per inch which makes it [more than] 5,000 years old.’
The tree previously thought to be Europe’s oldest yew is in a cemetary in the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland.
Modern expert estimates have put its age at up to 5,000 years old.
Church in Wales property services chief Alex Glanville said: ‘Yew trees have survived in Wales better than anywhere else because of our wet climate and lower light levels.’
The Church in Wales has now launched a campaign to protect the yew trees in their churchyards.
It is sending out certificates to parishes and communities which have some of the oldest yews – giving information on where to get the best advice for managing and making the most of them.
Mr Glanville said: ‘It is time we celebrated these amazing trees and the communities that have cared for them down the centuries.’