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The UK's oldest and most fascinating trees

By Miranda Evans

Nestled within the churchyard of Fortingall Parish Church resides the 3,000-9,000-year-old Fortingall Yew. Measured in 1769 as 52 feet in circumference, the Fortingall Yew has reduced in size today, but not in age. 

The Major Oak is one of the oldest trees in the UK Credit: Rex

There are many anecdotes about the Fortingall Yew, in 1833 for example, Dr. Patrick Neil wrote in the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal that 'Large arms have been removed, and masses of the trunk carried off by the country people with a view to making quechs or drinking cups and other relics.'

Reported to be 3,000 years old, the Ashbrittle Yew stands in the churchyard of St John the Baptist, Ashbrittle. With a circumference of 38 foot, the yew is steeped in history - it is reportedly situated on a Bronze Age mound where a pre-Roman chief is buried. 

The Fortingall Yew is purpotedly between 3,000 and 9,000 years old Credit: Alamy

Reports in April this year suggested that the yew might be suffering from some sort of disease. However, according to tree expert Dr Owen Johnson, yews tend to 'go through spells where they might look as though they are not thriving, but a few years later they might look fine. They are almost immortal.'


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Monday, September 14, 2015