Hallowed Ground

by Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder





“Many of the oldest yews in Britain survive because churches were planted alongside them. The presence of the churchyard protects the yew, or the presence of the yew drew the church to hallowed ground. It is not often known which was there first; sacred roots intertwine. The ancient relationship between the churchyard and the yew is often forgotten in a modern world. Not dead, perhaps, but, for now, dormant.”


“Yews are the oldest living things in Britain, considered ancient only when they reach the age of nine hundred. Some are believed to be at least five thousand years old. Yews carry an air of the secretive, and their age is notoriously difficult to determine because of their ability to withstand extraordinarily long periods of dormancy and then mysteriously decide that the time is right for new growth. Some of Britain’s oldest yews have witnessed Roman expeditions led by Julius Caesar, ancient Celtic ceremonies, Anglo-Saxon conquest, and the Black Death.

The Fallen Giant is one of the ancient yews of Druids Grove in Norbury Park, south of London.”