TThere is a beautiful and legendary tree in the small Ashbrittle village – the Ashbrittle Yew.


The tree stands next to the church of St. John The Baptist. The church is built in the 15th century and without a doubt, it is an old building – but the church was built when the yew was already a giant tree!

Long ago the trunk of the tree became hollow and then the giant trunk fragmented. Now Ashbrittle yew looks like a group of several trees consisting of a central, hollowed stem (circumference – 4.9 m) with 6 other stems. The girth of the whole tree now is assessed to be 11.58 m. The tree has an enormous canopy.


Although there is no way to prove it, many believe that the tree is more than 2,000 years old or even 3,000 years old. Local stories go further than this: legends tell that the tree grows on a Bronze Age barrow where has been buried important local chief. Even more: there reportedly was a druidic circle next to the tree (where the church stands now) where heads of the defeated Roman soldiers were brought.


  1. Stonehenge Riverside Project. Accessed on March 20, 2011
Ashbrittle Yew on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 50.9837 N 3.3515 W
Categories: Trees, Sites of legends
Values: Biology, Visual
Rating: 2.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Europe, United Kingdom, England, Somerset, 18 km west from Taunton, in Ashbrittle, south-east from the church
Species: European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
Circumference: 11.58 m

Landmarks of Somerset

Peterborough Cathedral, England
Peterborough Cathedral / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Somerset is very rich with cultural heritage and here it is not that easy to make a short list of most outstanding landmarks. Highlights of Somerset are churches, late medieval and Renaissance manor houses and the exciting Cheddar Gorge and caves in Mendip Hills.


Arve Big Tree, Tasmania, Australia
Arve Big Tree, Tasmania, Australia / TTaylor, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Category includes some of the most impressive and interesting separate trees of the the world. Total number of tree species in the world still is a wild guess – may be 10,000 and may be 100,000 but most likely somewhere in between. Every month there are reported new tree species from the whole world, including the Western Europe.

Recommended books

Yew: A History

The yew is one of the most fascinating and versatile life forms on Earth, botanically rich and intriguing, and culturally almost without comparison. This impressive study of the yew reveals that in history, mythology, religion, folklore, medicine, and warfare, the yew bears timeless witness to a deep relationship with mankind. It is the tree that Darwin often rested beneath and under which he wanted to be buried.

The Ancient Yew: A History of Taxus baccata

The gnarled, immutable yew tree is one of the most evocative sights in the British and Irish language, an evergreen impression of immortality, the tree that provides a living botanical link between our own landscapes and those of the distant past. This book tells the extraordinary story of the yew’s role in the landscape through the millennia, and makes a convincing case for the origins of many of the oldest trees, as markers of the holy places founded by Celtic saints in the early medieval ‘Dark Ages’.

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