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Fortingall Yew, Fortingall

(4.2/5 based on 50+ reviews on the web)
The Fortingall Yew is an ancient European yew in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland. Modern expert estimates have put its age over 3,000 years. It may be the oldest tree in Britain.AgeModern expert estimates put the age of the tree at between 2,000 and 3,000 years, although it may be a remnant of a post-Roman Christian site and around 1,500 years old. Others have suggested an age as great as 5,000 years to 9000 years. This still makes it one of the oldest known trees in Europe, although the root system of the Norway spruce Old Tjikko in Sweden is at least 9,500 years old. The Fortingall Yew is possibly the oldest tree in Britain.The treeThe tree's once massive trunk with a former head of unknown original height, is split into several separate stems, giving the impression of several smaller trees, with loss of the heartwood rings that would establish its true age. This is a result of the natural decay of the ancient heartwood, which reduced the centre of the trunk down to ground level by 1770. Other than this, the tree is still in good health, and may last for many more centuries. By 1833 it was noted that "large arms had been removed and even masses of the trunk, carried off, to make drinking-cups and other curiosities." It is protected by a low wall erected in 1785 to preserve it but it can still be easily viewed. The yew is male, however in 2015 scientists from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh reported that one small branch on the outer part of the crown had changed sex and begun to bear a small group of berries - an occurrence occasionally noted in conifers. The seeds have been preserved for study and will be used to help maintain genetic diversity in yews.
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  • We took a small detour to Fortingall late yesterday afternoon, to view this tree, after spending the majority of the day in nearby Aberfeldy. Fortingall is a beautiful little village with old fashione...  more »
  • This ancient tree is thought to be 5000 years old which possibly makes it the oldest living thing on the planet. To be honest, it's the fact rather than the reality of seeing the tree that makes the v...  more »
  • As you walk towards this magnificent yew, the inscriptions on the flagstones give a fantastic insight to the sheer scale of history and time that has passed during the life of this tree. Whenever I am...  more »