The Llangernyw Yew Tree of Wales

The oldest yew tree in Wales (and one of the oldest living things in the world) grows outside St. Digain’s Church in North Wales.

For more than 4,000 years, this yew has been growing in North Wales. (photo by Lori Erickson)

Outside of St. Digain’s Church in the village of Llangernyw in North Wales, an immense yew grows, so large that it looks like several trees planted together. It’s believed to be more than 4,000 years old.

The core of the yew has fragmented into gnarled offshoots, creating almost a kind of nest in the middle. At ground level, the tree’s girth is an impressive 40 feet.

In 2002, this yew tree was designated as one of Fifty Great British Trees in recognition of its role in Britain’s national heritage.

The spreading branches of the yew tree are a magical place to lie. (photo by Lori Erickson)

Yews were sacred to the pre-Christian Celts, in part because of their ability to seemingly die and then re-grow. In the Christian Era, they were often planted in churchyards. It’s quite possible that the church was situated here because of the tree, which would already have been thousands of years old when it was built.

The churchyard also has two large upright stones said to date from the sixth century.

St. Digain’s Church, which is named after a fifth-century Celtic saint, is worth visiting as well. Parts of the building date to the fifteenth century.

But the best thing to do here is this: recline in the nest made by the tree roots and dream of all that this immense yew has seen during its long life.


Back to main page for Sacred Sites in Wales

Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of books that include Holy Rover, Near the Exit, The Soul of the Family Tree, and Every Step Is HomeHer website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.

Share This!