Friday, 6 February 2009

All Saints Church & the Didcot Yew

I went to visit All Saints Church in Didcot, while the snow was falling. I think the snow is eerie because of the way it carpets the whole world in a blanket of silence.

The Didcot Yew tree stands in the churchyard of All Saints, and was also laden with snow. Yew trees were sacred to the Druids and are said to be immortal. When they become old, they throw up new shoots. The Didcot Yew is claimed by some to be the second oldest in Britain, and it stands in the oldest part of the town.It is roughly 1,600 years old.

According to Fred Hageneder in Spirit of trees, "In ancient Celtic culture Yew was associated with higher knowledge and wisdom. It was the principle wood for carving ogham runes, the signs of the tree alphabet. Scottish Druids used yew staffs with notches or oghams to record the phases of the moon or the traditional laws...In an old Norse song, the yew is called "wintergreenest tree" and it is governed by Ullr, whose bow is believed to be the rune ur with the shape of the mother mound of midwinter"

Hageneder mentions how Robert Graves designed a tree calendar in which he assigned the yew to midwinter solstice.

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