This Tree Is The Oldest Living Thing In Britain… And It Could Be About To Die

The Roman invasion of Britain, the Battle of Hastings, the Magna Carta, and the birth of Tom Jones. This tree has seen it all.


Mpora was presented with some sad news this morning. Britain’s oldest living thing is, if certain reports are to be believed, knocking at death’s door. Calm down everyone, Tom Jones is fine.

At 74, the silver-haired singer from the Welsh valleys, with lungs so powerful they could blow up your surround-sound speakers, might officially be getting on a bit. But compared to a 4,000 year old tree in Somerset, Jones is still a relative youngster.

The Ashbrittle Yew, which has been dated to somewhere between 2000BC and 1500BC, is said to be suffering from an unknown arboreal infection (no, we don’t know what this is either).

Locals became concerned when they noticed that the tree’s branches were starting to wilt, and that its evergreen leaves were beginning to fall.


Dr Owen Johnson (pictured below), an expert in all things tree-based, told national newspapers that the yew might just be going through a rough patch and that it was unlikely to die of old age any time in the near future.

“They go through spells where they might look as though they are not thriving, but a few years later they might look fine. They are almost immortal,” he said.

As you’d expect from a tree that is “…almost immortal,” the Ashbrittle Yew is subject to wide array of myths, legends, and stories. Tree fans, and anyone who enjoys a good yarn, might be interested to know that the mound where it grows is thought to be a Bronze age tomb, and a burial place for a Pre-Roman chieftan.

Images: Dr Owen Johnson/Champion Trees.

The Tree Register has marked the Ashbrittle Yew down as one of it’s “Champion Trees, and one of the top 20 trees in the country. If you’ve never witnessed ‘The Tree Register’ being called, it usually goes something like this

“Silver Birch?”


“Pedunculate Oak?”


“Common Hazel?”


And so on, and so forth. Because, trees are quiet.


The oldest tree in the world is a bristlecone pine in California (pictured above). It grows in the White Mountains region, and is believed to be over 5,000 years old.

It enjoys smoking pipes, wearing knitted cardigans, and moaning about the youth of today. You know, stuff that old people like.

If you’re reading this Ashbrittle Yew, which you probably aren’t because you’re a tree, we hope you make a speedy recovery.

 You May Also Like:

Castles, UFOs And Private Jets: 23 Unbelievable Treehouses That Are Better Than Your Dream House

The 10 Most Incredible Treehouse Hotels on Earth


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.