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The Northern Antiquarian Forum

Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!

    Fortingall Yew Tree, Fortingall, Perthshire, Scotland.


    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 66
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Fortingall Yew Tree, Fortingall, Perthshire, Scotland. Empty Fortingall Yew Tree, Fortingall, Perthshire, Scotland.

    Post  Sunbright57 Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:57 am

    The Fortingall yew tree stands in the church-yard at Fortingall village near Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland, at os grid reference NN.7417 4703. This ancient and sacred yew tree is estimated to be between 3,000 to 5,000 years old, even older than Stonehenge, a few historians have even claimed that it is 9,000 years old. But certainly it is the oldest living yew tree in Europe. The latin name is Taxus Baccata. To Christians it is a sacred tree that is one of "endless life", and to Buddists it is called "deodar" - Tree of God. The hebrew name Jehovah is thought to be cognate with the word "yew". These ancient trees are thought to provide a potent protection against evil and are regarded as a symbol of the old pagan magic; they protect church-yards. They are an everlasting symbol of rebirth, renewal, regeneration and immortality.

    The Fortingall yew has a girth of over 52 feet which is less than what it was in 1771 when Thomas Pennant came to look at it and said it measured some 56 feet. In 1825 a protective wall had to be built around its great trunk for protection and its root system saved from further stress. The yew is poisonous to both humans and animals, although a blood red sap that issues from its trunk when injured could be advantageous to some forms of cancer as in an anti-cancer drug in the future. This red sap, according to legend, is thought to flow in memory of Christ dieing on a cross made from the yew tree. The word "Taxus" is derived from the Celtic word "Toxus" - arrows, from which we then get toxic. The seeds of the yew are often eaten by birds and do not appear to be of any harm to them. A rather far flung legend says that Pontius Pilate was born here and played in the very shadow of the Fortingall yew tree.

    A monastic church was founded here in 700 AD as a daughter monastery to Iona and later it was dedicated to a St.Coeddi who was bishop of Iona; he died in 712 AD. In recent times a stone measuring 0.9 metres high by 0.9 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep was dug up close to the ancient yew tree; the stone has 9 cup-marks on it. This cup-marked stone can still be seen in the church-yard, whilst inside the church there are some early Christian stone slabs that bear simple incised crosses thought similar to those on the Island of Iona.

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