Discovering Britain’s Ancient Yews with the Yew-nique Map

Britain is home to one of the greatest collections of yew trees in the world, according to The Conservation Foundation. These trees are scattered across the country, and their ages vary greatly, with some being hundreds, even thousands, of years old. It’s this awe-inspiring fact that has led the Conservation Foundation to produce a yew-nique online map that features nearly 1,000 of these ancient, venerable and notable yews.

A Glimpse into the Past

The age of yew trees is a topic that has sparked much debate among experts. Due to the absence of age rings in the oldest yews, which are hollow, their exact age remains uncertain. However, scientists have classified yews between 500 and 800 years old as ‘veteran’ and anything over 800 and possibly several thousand as ‘ancient’. These ancient trees often stand as one of the oldest living things in the landscape, silently bearing witness to centuries of change.

The Yew-nique Map: A Tool for Tree Lovers

The yew-nique map was designed with the purpose of highlighting the distribution of Britain’s yews. A notable observation from the map is that churchyards are significant sites for Britain’s yew tree heritage. They hold almost 1,000 of our veteran and ancient yews, with about 300 of them being ancient. However, East Anglia is notably absent of ancient yews. This map is an invaluable tool for tree lovers and researchers alike, providing fascinating insights into the geographical spread and age distribution of these majestic trees.

Joining the Effort

The yew-nique map was created with the assistance of the Ancient Yew Group, which keeps records of veteran, ancient and notable yews across the UK. If you come across a yew that should be recorded but isn’t found on the map, you can contribute to this important conservation work by contacting the group on their website.

The Conservation Foundation: Advocating for Yew Trees Since 1987

The Conservation Foundation has been raising awareness about the long heritage of yew trees since 1987. In the year 2000, they celebrated by giving away nearly 8000 cuttings taken from trees estimated to be at least 2000 years old. In 2015, they launched the We Love Yew campaign, encouraging communities to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta by planting young yews propagated from trees growing at the time of King John.

Looking to the Future

The Foundation is currently funding carbon dating of a piece of a yew growing by an ancient well in Wales, which may offer further insights into the age of yews. Also, they are supporting churches and non-profit groups to care for and celebrate their yew trees. As part of the campaign, a limited number of yews propagated from some of our ancient trees are available, promising to grow the next generation of Britain’s ancient yew heritage.


What is the Yew-nique Map?

The yew-nique map is an online tool created by The Conservation Foundation that provides information about the location of nearly 1,000 ancient, venerable and notable yews around the UK.

How can I contribute to the Yew-nique Map?

If you discover a yew that is not on the map, you can contact the Ancient Yew Group through their website to have it added.

Why are yew trees important?

Yew trees are important not only for their age and beauty, but also because they are a part of our natural and cultural heritage. They have been around for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, witnessing significant historical events and changes in the landscape.


The yew-nique map is a fascinating tool that allows us to appreciate and understand the rich history and distribution of yew trees in the UK. It’s a must-visit site for tree lovers, historians, and anyone interested in the natural and cultural heritage of Britain.

Category Details
Organization Behind the Map The Conservation Foundation
Purpose of Map To highlight the distribution of yew trees in the UK
Noteworthy Features of UK Yew Trees One of the greatest collections of yew trees in the world, widely dispersed around the country
Age Classification of Yews ‘Veteran’ between 500 and 800 years old; ‘Ancient’ – over 800 and possibly several thousand
Key Locations of Yews Churchyards, holding almost 1,000 veteran and ancient yews
Absence of Ancient Yews East Anglia
Role of Ancient Yew Group Helped in producing the map, maintains records on yew trees across the UK
Conservation Foundation’s Yew Initiatives Giving away yew cuttings, launching ‘We Love Yew’ campaign, funding carbon dating of yews
Availability of Yews for Propagation Limited number of yews propagated from ancient trees are available

Exploring Britain’s Yew Trees: An Unravelling Heritage

Yew trees are a truly remarkable species. They are an integral part of Britain’s cultural and natural heritage, and their existence stretches back into the farthest reaches of time. These majestic trees, some of which are believed to be several thousand years old, are scattered across the landscape, quietly telling stories of the past. Their presence in churchyards and other historical sites across the UK is testament to their enduring significance.

The Mighty Yew: A Testament to Time

Yew trees are one of the oldest living species on earth. These survivors have been able to endure harsh weather conditions, wars, and the changing landscape of human civilization. Their hardy nature and ability to regenerate from their own decay have contributed to their longevity. The oldest yews, often hollow, possess no age rings, making it a challenge to determine their exact age. However, this has not deterred scientists and researchers who classify yews as ‘veteran’ if they fall between 500 and 800 years old, and ‘ancient’ if they surpass 800 years and potentially reach into the thousands.

Churchyards: The Sanctuaries of Ancient Yews

Interestingly, churchyards are a significant part of Britain’s yew tree heritage. Nearly 1,000 veteran and ancient yews are found in these sanctuaries of peace and tranquility. This could be attributed to the historical and spiritual significance of yews in various cultures, often symbolizing eternal life. The map reflects this trend, with a significant concentration of yews around these locations. However, East Anglia, a region in Eastern England, remarkably lacks ancient yews.

Yew-nique Map: A Treasure Trove for Tree Enthusiasts

The yew-nique map is a well-curated digital tool that unveils the widespread distribution of Britain’s yews. This map provides a wealth of information for tree lovers, researchers, and conservationists. From geographical spread to age distribution, it offers a comprehensive overview of these magnificent trees. If you stumble upon a yew that is not featured on the map, you can contribute to its evolving database by contacting the Ancient Yew Group.

Conservation Foundation: A Champion for Yews

The Conservation Foundation has been a tireless advocate for yew trees since its inception in 1987. Over the years, they have undertaken several initiatives to raise awareness and appreciation for yews. Their We Love Yew campaign in 2015 was a significant step in this direction, encouraging communities to plant yews propagated from ancient trees. The Foundation also aims to understand yews better by funding scientific research, such as carbon dating of yew samples.


Why are yew trees found predominantly in churchyards?

The association of yew trees with churchyards is believed to be due to their religious and cultural significance. Yews symbolise eternal life in many cultures, which aligns with the spiritual beliefs attached to churchyards.

What efforts are being made to conserve yew trees?

The Conservation Foundation and the Ancient Yew Group are two organisations actively involved in yew conservation. They undertake various initiatives, from awareness campaigns to scientific research, to ensure the survival and understanding of these ancient trees.


The yew-nique map is more than just a tool; it’s a gateway into the rich history of yew trees in the UK. By exploring this map, you are embarking on a journey through time, uncovering stories of resilience and survival. Whether you’re a tree lover, a historian, or just a curious soul, the yew-nique map is sure to captivate your interest and admiration for these timeless trees.


Additional FAQs

Is the Yew-nique Map accessible to the public?

Yes, the Yew-nique Map is accessible to the public. Anyone interested in exploring the locations and information about the yew trees in the UK can use the map as an online tool.

What is the age range of the yew trees featured on the Yew-nique Map?

The Yew-nique Map features trees that range from ‘veteran’ yews, which are between 500 and 800 years old, to ‘ancient’ yews, which are over 800 years old and potentially several thousand years old.

Why is East Anglia absent of ancient yews?

The absence of ancient yews in East Anglia is not fully understood. It may be due to a variety of factors, including historical land use, climate, and human intervention. The Yew-nique Map aims to provide more insight into these geographical variations in yew distribution.

What is the role of the Ancient Yew Group?

The Ancient Yew Group assists in the creation of the Yew-nique Map by keeping records of veteran, ancient and notable yews across the UK. They also accept contributions from the public to add unrecorded yew trees to the map.

What is the ‘We Love Yew’ campaign?

The ‘We Love Yew’ campaign, launched by The Conservation Foundation in 2015, sought to encourage communities to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta by planting young yews propagated from trees growing at the time of King John.

SEO Optimized Conclusion

The yew-nique-map-tree-lovers will find the Yew-nique Map a treasure trove of information. This fascinating tool helps you appreciate the rich history and wide distribution of yew trees in the UK. It’s an essential resource for historians, nature enthusiasts, and anyone passionate about the natural and cultural heritage of Britain.


Category Number of Yews
Veteran Yews 700
Ancient Yews 300
Region Number of Ancient Yews
East Anglia 0
Other Regions 300

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