Defynnog Yew - Atlas Obscura

Defynnog Yew

Defynnog, Wales

Estimated to be more than 5,000 years old, this yew may be Britain’s oldest.  


Experts have determined the Defynnog Yew to be more than 5,000 years old, making it one of the United Kingdom’s oldest yew trees. Some have disputed this estimate, instead calculating the tree to be only around 1,500 years old. Either way, the yew is one of Britain’s oldest trees. 

It is part of a genetically identical pair standing together at St. Cynog Church near Sennybridge, Wales. The tree is the largest of four in the churchyard, with an overall circumference of 36 feet (or 11 meters). 

Wooden signposts direct visitors to the yew tree among the churchyard’s gravestones. The yew’s huge canopy supports many species, including fern, moss, and lichens. The tree is so large one could walk right through it, but this causes erosion damaging the tree, and is not advised. Visitors shouldn’t take any twigs or needles off the tree as this can also cause damage.

This tree has stood far longer than Defynnog’s St. Cynog Church, which was built primarily in the late 15th century. The tree has survived the Middle Ages, was likely worshipped by ancient Celtic people, and may even be older than the Roman Empire. The Defynnog Yew is a living connection with the ancient past and visiting with care ensures it will be preserved for future generations.

Know Before You Go

There is no parking at the church. Visitors can either park on the street or in a small car park past the church up a small hill.  There is no footpath directly from this parking area to the churchyard and yew tree.

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