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Yew at Llanfaredd St Mary Church

The ancient yew at Llanfaredd St Mary Church
The ancient yew at Llanfaredd St Mary Church./ Bill Nicholls, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

At the St Mary Church in Llanfaredd grows a giant yew tree. Its trunk has a circumference of 9.22 m.

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GPS coordinates
52.1471 N 3.3617 W
Location, address
Europe, United Kingdom, Wales, Powys, east of Builth Wells, in front of Llanfaredd church
European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
9.22 m (at 0.9 m height, 2015., 1.)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Llanfaredd is an ancient site at River Wye that consists of a church and a farm. Most likely, in medieval times this was a larger village.

Llanfaredd St Mary Church is a very old church that to a large extent was rebuilt in 1891. There is a possibility that the church was devoted to a now forgotten saint Mariaith and later renamed to the much better known name of St Mary. It is hard to tell the age of this simple structure, but, reportedly, its bell was made around 1280 but the church itself may be even older. The church has a rounded churchyard – a sign of its antiquity.

In front of the church, inside the churchyard grows an ancient yew. The tree has an impressive trunk with a central part and an outlying large limb.

The tree has been measured since 1811 – and then the girth was a lot more impressive: 36 feet or 11 m! Measurements show this same enormous girth until 1982, later measurements give the less impressive 9.22 m.

The yew and the church may mark a more ancient sacred site. To the east of the church is a spring – well. 1.5 km to the south-east, up in the Aberedw Hill are prehistoric barrows and also a standing stone at Cefnhinog Farm.

  1. Yew/Yews at Llanfaredd Wales, Ancient Yew Group. Accessed on December 25, 2023.

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WorldYellow Recommended books

The God Tree

The God Tree is a great read and will make people think again and again about Yews’ – David Bellamy, the Naturalist. This is the first book to take up the quest for the Golden Bough since JG Frazer’s classic study in 1915 with the discovery of the bough growing once more, as the rare adornment of a small number of ancient Yews.

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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