The ancient yew tree at Cyffylliog

Moving from the city to rural Wales and exploring its ancient landscape has taught us how temporary our stay is. 

Here is my photograph of one of the oldest living things I am ever likely to see. Cymru-Wales has the largest number of ancient yews in the world. This one in the equally ancient burial ground at Cyffylliog is thought to be over two thousand years old, so was there before the Roman legions passed through building their roads & forts. I am awed by it. 

I wonder what tongues have been spoken there in its history? When it was but a sapling, Iron Age locals’ Brittonic dialect could be heard, perhaps even the occupying Roman army’s Latin & other languages. 

By the ninth century C.E. the locals burying their dead around the ancient yew would speak a form of Old, then Middle Welsh, not forgetting (many Welsh people today do not forget!) the Norman French and Early English of invaders from across the border.

Since the fifteenth century, there are ever fewer modern Welsh speakers and more speaking modern English. (Today maybe 40% speak cymraeg in the surrounding area of Denbighshire.)