Site of ancient yew faces building threat
The Ankerwyke yew by the Thames near Wraysbury is some 30ft (9m) in diameter and believed to be about 2,000 years old. The yew is on the bank of the river opposite Runnymede, the meadow where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Now a proposed development of 14 flats within a few hundred yards of the tree threatens to alter the special feeling of the place.
Not far from the Ankerwyke yew is Windsor Castle, residence of kings since Saxon times and near by is the site of a Benedictine nunnery, built in the 12th century. The yew may indicate that the site was sacred long before either was built.
Alan Meredith, who has studied ancient yews throughout Britain, said: 'Yew trees were used in Ireland in the eighth and ninth centuries for inauguration of chieftains - and this yew being so close to Windsor could have been used in that way.'
He has discovered that the Thames changed its course in about 1250, putting the yew on the opposite bank to Runnymede. So it is possible, and even likely, that King John met the barons near the yew, then part of Runnymede, and there signed the parchment which gave important rights and freedoms to Englishmen.
'Building houses near by will spoil this site,' said Mr Meredith. 'It has a very important place in English history. But when you get to the yew tree there is nothing to say how old it is or to explain the history of the place.'
Local people are interested in protecting the tree and getting Berkshire County Council to have a management policy for the site.
'If the tree was a building of the same age every effort would be made to preserve it,' said Mr Meredith. 'Tree preservation orders do not give much protection and cannot always be obtained.'
In Somerset, conservationists have tried to obtain orders to preserve a grove of ancient yews near Whatley, but Mendip District Council will not agree to grant preservation orders.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
World news in pictures
You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 3 Amir Khan interview: 'One second could end my boxing career'
- 4 Groundhog day looms for Arsène Wenger as Arsenal battle for a place in the Champions League on final day
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...
£240 - £260 per day: Progressive Recruitment: WPF Developer (C#, VB.Net) North...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: KS2 teacher needed to do PPA ...