© Copyright Alex Ramsay, with thanks

© Copyright Alex Ramsay, with thanks

The Discoed Yew

The yew in St Michael's churchyard is likely to be a remarkable five thousand years old. The Discoed Yew is probably one of the five oldest in the British Isles. Other trees in that list are the Fortingall yew in Scotland (long considered the oldest yew) and Llangernyw, Bettws Newydd and Defynnog.

The yew's girth is 1128cm (37 feet) and it is male. There is also an ancient female yew tree over in the corner of the church yard by the wall.

The Discoed Yew is one of the few donor yews for the Millenium Yew Project. In 1999, the Conservation Foundation  took cuttings from Yew trees that were alive at the time of Christ and planted them for the new Millenium. 


 Similar competitions are being held in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Visit the Woodland Trust website here

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive, said: “This contest reminds us how trees have been an integral part of this country’s history and play an important role in our lives today. We still need better protection for individual trees across the UK and we hope everyone who votes will also support our campaign to create a register for all our Trees of National Special Interest.”

The European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association since 2011, looks for the best loved trees from 15 countries across Europe. The 2015 winner from over 180,000 votes cast was the ‘Oak tree on a football field’ in Estonia.

The UK is home to one of the largest populations of ancient and veteran trees in Europe and over 8,000 people have signed up to the Trust’s V.I Trees campaign to try and ensure all Trees of National Special Interest have better long term protection from the threats posed by climate change, development, pests and diseases.

To see all the shortlists visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear

 The idea of five thousand year old yews appeared in the 1980s when Allen Meredith was discovering that large numbers of churchyard yews were being unnecessarily felled.

After researching growth rates he produced a graph of age related to girth. By the time this graph got to 34 feet girth it was producing very high numbers, such as 5000 years. The certificates issued by the Conservation Foundation, used Allen Meredith's age estimate, and this is likely to stick until more research work is carried out.

We have now entered a new era of science based research which cannot say that the tree is 5000 years old, but neither can it say that it is not. The fact is that we will probably never know its true age.

At the moment the Ancient Yew Group classifies the tree as Ancient which means its age is a minimum of 800 years, but AYG member Toby Hindson says that he can justify giving the tree a minimum age of 2000 years old. And as with all ancient yews the Ancient Yew Group accept the possibility that it might be far older.

Whatever its age turns out to be it is probably one of the five oldest yews in the British Isles.

……..there is one place
for which we ask more than an angel’s eye-
our own St Michael’s, dwarfed by a tree
that was full grown three thousand years
before a Christian stone was laid upon this hill.
— 'Petition from the Parish' by Edward Storey