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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/10/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tree resides in remote Welsh church courtyard

A yew that first took root more than 5,000 years ago in Wales is believed to the United Kingdom's oldest living tree. Residing in a churchyard, the yew was planted 3,000 years ago at the time of Jesus Christ's birth.

The yew is found in churchyards across Europe because the early Church often took over existing religious buildings as it converted and took over pagan regions.

The yew is found in churchyards across Europe because the early Church often took over existing religious buildings as it converted and took over pagan regions.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/10/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Tree, yew, Wales, oldest, chronology, dating


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to tree ageing experts, the tree, located in St. Cynog's churchyard at Defynnog near Sennybridge, Powys, was subjected to DNA and ring-dating. The process of ageing a tree is called dendrochronology.

There are now many different methods used, from physically measuring the circumference of a tree's trunk, to tree-ring measuring to DNA testing.

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The ancient yew (pictured) in a Welsh churchyard has standing since more than 3,000 years before Chr

The ancient yew (pictured) in a Welsh churchyard has standing since more than 3,000 years before Christ according to tree aging experts.


Trees rings are a result of new growth during the year. The number of rings directly corresponds with the number of years a tree has been alive.

Different species of tree, however, have different growth rates. There are hundreds of ancient yew trees dating back at least 600 years across Britain. The 60-foot-wide giant at St Cynog's is believed to be the most ancient.

There are hundreds of ancient yew trees across Britain, but the 60-foot-wide giant (pictured with ch

There are hundreds of ancient yew trees across Britain, but the 60-foot-wide giant (pictured with church vicar Rev Paul Wilding) at St Cynog's is believed to be the most ancient of them all.


"I'm convinced this is the oldest tree in Europe," tree ageing expert Janis Fry, who has studied yews for more than 40 years, says.
 
"It was planted on the north side of the ancient burial mound which is now the churchyard, probably in honor of a neo-lithic chieftain.

"It is so old that it has split into two halves - one 40 feet wide and the other 20 feet 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 yew is found in churchyards across Europe because the early Church often took over existing religious buildings as it converted and took over pagan regions.

It is believed that the yew (recording-breaking specimen pictured) is found in churchyards across Eu

It is believed that the yew (recording-breaking specimen pictured) is found in churchyards across Europe because the early Church took over existing religious buildings as it converted and took over pagan regions.


The yew tree has become a strong Christian symbol. Its long life and evergreen leaves represent Christ's transcendence of death in his resurrection.

The leaves also bear a resemblance to palm leaves and were commonly used on Palm Sunday for Easter rituals.

"Yew trees have survived in Wales better than anywhere else because of our wet climate and lower light levels," Church in Wales property services Chief Alex Glanville says.

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