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Conwy, Wales

Llangernyw Yew

One of the world's oldest trees comes with a Welsh legend intertwining it with a spirit prophesying death. 

The Llangernyw Yew is an ancient tree, growing in Conwy, Wales. The tree is estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, although dating yew trees is notoriously difficult thanks to the tree’s core having been lost to the ages. Its cleft trunk appears as a living portal to the world of the dead, with a small field of tombstones resting just on the other side of wooded gateway. 

Were its true age to approach the older side of the spectrum, this dates the yew to the Bronze Age, before Christianity’s arrival in the British Isles. This makes the Llangernyw Yew a likely candidate for one of the oldest still-standing trees in Great Britain. Due in no small part to this, the yew was designated as one of the Fifty Great British Trees in 2002. 

Adding to the tree’s mystique is its role in to Welsh mythology, according to which the tree is often associated with a spirit known as Angelystor, or the “Recording Angel.” Each year at Halloween the Angel speaks a prophecy foretelling the names of parishioners destined to die before the next Halloween from the altar of a nearby church. Those wishing to find if their names were among the angel’s list gather beneath the east window of the church, and listen very closely. 

The yew’s spirit of Angelystor has yet to be scientifically tested, but similiar to the tree’s age, comes backed by thousands of years of written record attesting to its existence.

Contributed by
Chris White
Edited by