|Party Tree at Hobbiton, New Zealand|
|Lone Tree in British Park|
|British Trees in the Snow|
Because of their extreme longevity, it is therefore perhaps not surprising that yew trees symbolized immortality for our pagan forebears and that many Christian churches came to be built where sacred groves of yew used to stand. The yew also has what would have been viewed as miraculous powers of regeneration, as when one of the branches droops so low that it hits the earth, that branch can grow roots and start forming new trunks. Because of this link to a promised eternal life, in medieval times they used to line newly dug graves with yew branches to help guarantee the resurrection of the recently deceased soul. Yew is also one of the woods that traditionally have been thought to have been used to make the cross that Jesus was crucified on. This link with death may have come about as yew is also poisonous, and can easily kill a man if ingested in sufficient quantity. The yew was also believed to be able to protect churchyards from storms that had been conjured up by angry, vengeful witches. In the middle ages, yew was a favoured wood for making long bows; that ultimate weapon of the fighting man that was so vital to the English for gaining victory in battles such as Agincourt in October 1415. At that time archery practice with the longbow was enforced by law, and each man in England who was of an age to fight was compelled to spend time practising his technique and skills until they were deadly accurate.
|Winter Trees in Oxford|