The Ankerwycke Yew - One of Britain’s Oldest Trees

Today, I want to take you on a journey back in time to a place steeped in history and mystery. Picture this: a tranquil setting, the sound of birds chirping, and the unmistakable presence of an ancient giant standing tall before you. That’s right, I’m talking about the remarkable Ankerwycke Yew tree.

The Ankerwycke Yew, said to be over 2,500 years old, has witnessed centuries of events unfold right before its evergreen branches. Located in the enchanting Ankerwycke Meadow in Berkshire, England, this majestic yew holds a special place in history.

The girth of this tree exceeds 9 meters (over 29 ½ feet)!

wide girth of the The Ankerwycke Yew

Legend has it that beneath the shade of this magnificent tree, King Henry VIII courted his future wife, Anne Boleyn. Can you imagine the whispers and secrets exchanged under its branches? But that’s not all. The Ankerwycke Yew has even deeper historical significance. It is believed to have witnessed the signing of the Magna Carta, a pivotal moment in the journey towards democratic rights and freedoms.

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This ancient tree has stood the test of time and continues to fascinate visitors with its captivating aura. Join me as we delve deeper into the mysteries of the Ankerwycke Yew, exploring its folklore, historical context, and the significance it holds for generations past and present.

So, grab a cup of tea, sit back, and let’s embark on this fascinating journey together!

Ankerwycke Yew close up

Importance in History

This old tree is said to have witnessed some famous moments in the history of the UK and the world.

Connection to the signing of the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta is a historical document that was signed in 1215 in England. It was a charter of rights and liberties that limited the power of the monarchy and established certain fundamental rights for the people. The Magna Carta is considered a foundational document for constitutional law and has had a significant impact on the development of democratic principles.

The Ankerwycke Yew tree is believed to have stood near the location where the Magna Carta was signed. This ancient tree is estimated to be over 2,500 years old and is considered a symbol of resilience and enduring significance. It is said that the tree served as a meeting place for the barons who gathered to negotiate with King John before the signing of the Magna Carta.

The presence of the Ankerwycke Yew tree adds a symbolic element to the Magna Carta’s signing location, emphasizing the importance of the event and the enduring nature of the principles it enshrined. Today, the tree stands as a reminder of the historic significance of the Magna Carta and its role in shaping the foundations of modern democracy.

King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

The Ankerwycke Yew tree has yet another historical significance due to its connection to King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. According to popular belief, it is said that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn may have met under this ancient yew tree during their courtship. The tree is located near the ruins of Ankerwycke Priory, which was a favorite hunting lodge for Henry VIII.

It is believed that Henry VIII proposed to Anne Boleyn at this location, making the Ankerwycke Yew a symbol of their romance. The tree has stood witness to significant historical events, including their courtship and the subsequent creation of the Church of England. Today, the Ankerwycke Yew remains a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts who wish to explore this fascinating connection to one of England’s most iconic royal couples.

trunk of the Ankerwycke Yew

Yew Tree Folklore

The folklore and mythology surrounding the yew tree is rich and diverse. In many ancient cultures, the yew tree was considered sacred and had deep symbolic significance. It was associated with themes of death, rebirth, and immortality.

In Celtic mythology, the yew tree was believed to be a gateway between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. It was often planted in graveyards and used to make protective charms and weapons. The Norse mythology also held the yew tree in high regard, associating it with the concept of everlasting life and the god Odin.

Additionally, the yew tree has been linked to various legends and folklore tales across different cultures, highlighting its mystical and spiritual qualities.

full view of the Ankerwycke Yew


So if you find yourself hiking off the beaten track in search of a calm and contemplative place; you would be hard-pushed to find a better place than with this tree – an ancient living legend.

Ankerwycke Yew royal plaque

You can find this amazing tree near to St Mary’s Priory in Berkshire.

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