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Yews at Bettws Newydd St Aeddan’s Church

WorldBlue  In short

There are three enormous yews at Bettws Newyd church. One is especially interesting – a giant with a circumference of 10.06 m (reportedly, even 10.5 m) and an unusual form.

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GPS coordinates
51.7479 N 2.9256 W
Location, address
Europe, United Kingdom, Wales, Monmouthshire, north of Usk, in Bettws Newydd, in the churchyard of St Aeddan’s Church
European Yew (Taxus baccata L.)
The largest: 10.06 m (at unknown height, 1994., 1. or ~10.5 m, 2017, 2.)
The second yew: 7.15 (at the height of 1.3 m, 2017, 2.)
The third yew: 6.24 m (at the height of 1.3 m, 2017, 2.)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Bettws Newyd is an ancient site with several archaeological and historical monuments – prehistoric burial mounds, Iron Age hillfort, a place of a Norman motte and bailey fortress. This is a beautiful village in an area that is dotted with interesting and exciting monuments of history and archaeology.

St Aeddan’s Church

According to legends, the oratory in the present-day Bettws Newyd was founded by Saint Aedan of Ferns (Máedóc of Ferns) before 570 AD but, it seems, there are no remains from these times.

The current church was built during the reconstruction in the 15th century, when a 12th-century (1188?) church was largely reshaped. The building stands on the foundation from the 12th century. It gave a name to the village: Betthws Newyd or the “new prayer house”.

In the later centuries the church was repaired several times, notably in the 19th century.

Today St Aeddan’s Church is a charming medieval structure. It contains some of the best preserved, unique medieval wood carvings from the 15th century. The church is in dire need of roof repairs (autumn 2023).

Giant yews in the churchyard

The largest yew tree – one of the largest in the United Kingdom – grows at the pathway towards the church. This giant tree is unusual – around an enormous hollow is a shell of half-dead wood and many branches and trunks rise from it. But – in the middle of the hollow rises a trunk of a newer yew tree. A tree within a tree! The newer trunk to a large extent holds the old shell of the tree.

The height of this tree is around 14 m and circumference – around 10.5 m.

The second-largest tree is some 12 m high and has a circumference of 7.15 m. This is a male tree. It has a single trunk but it has a sizeable hollow that is filled with new stems and twigs of the same tree.

The third tree is a male tree. It has a circumference of 6.24 m and an approximate height of 15 m. This yew has a beautiful, whole bole, but, most likely a hollow is forming inside it as well.

  1. Yew/Yews at Bettws Newydd, Ancient Yew Group. Accessed on December 19, 2023.
  2. European Yews on the cemetery of the village church in Bettws Newydd, Wales, United Kingdom, Monumental Trees. Accessed on December 19, 2023.
Yews at Bettws Newydd St Aeddan’s Church are included in the following article:

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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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