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An ancient Perthshire yew has made the top 10 in a list of the most important trees in the UK.
The Fortingall Yew, which grows at a churchyard near Aberfeldy, could be up to 5,000 years old and is thought to be the oldest living organism in Europe.

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Within the quiet churchyard in a Perthshire village, the Fortingall Yew has lived through every twist and turn in Scotland's history for five millennia.
The yew is nothing much to look at, its once giant trunk having splintered into several separate stems. Legend has it that Pontius Pilate was born in Fortingall and played under its branches, and whether that ever happened or not, the story underlines the fact that, having lived for about 5,000 years, this yew is the oldest tree in Europe.
Yesterday, it was highlighted by conservationists as part of a call for public help to catalogue some of the nation's oldest trees. In an attempt to preserve them for future generations, the Woodland Trust is seeking to draw up a map of Britain's ancient trees.

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The public is being asked to help the Woodland Trust charity create a map of the UK's ancient woodlands.
Conservationists say Britain has more ancient trees than any other nation in northern Europe. The yew at Fortingall in Perthshire is thought to be the oldest.

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The Fortingall Yew (Taxus baccata) has been guesstimated at anything between 3000 and 9000 years old. This would make the tree a contender for the title of the world's oldest single tree, rivalling the 4,600-year-old bristlecone pines of California.

4.05600W_56.60100N
Latitude: 56.601000000 Longitude: -4.056000000



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There are three stone circles nearby.

Fortingall E Stone Circle
Latitude: 56.598248 Longitude: -4.041052

Fortingall W Stone Circle
Latitude: 56.598221 Longitude: -4.042680

Fortingall S Stone Circle
Latitude: 56.597324 Longitude: -4.042632

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The Fortingall yew is claimed to be oldest living thing in Europe. Botanists estimate the tree to be about 5,000 years old. Located in a church yard in Perthshire near Glen Lyon, the yew tree is enclosed by a stone wall built in 1785 to keep tourists from taking home any more clippings as souvenirs. The yew once had a span of about 56 feet across. Now it is smaller than many other yews in churchyards across Europe, but its age makes it significant.
Around the tree is a burial ground with tombs dating back to the 1700s. But the history of the church goes back even further, as there was a Celtic Christian church in Fortingall around 1,300 years ago. The area itself has had inhabitants for more than 5,000 years and was regarded as a sacred place. Cairns date back to the neolithic period (4000-2000 BC) as a communal burial place for important people. Several large stones have cupmarks on them, used possibly as boundary markers. During the Bronze Age (2000-500 BC) several standing stones and stone circles were set up in nearby fields. The finding of a Victorian beer bottle beneath one of the stones suggests that they were deliberately toppled and buried in the 19th century. The site of a double ditched hill fort was probably occupied during the Iron Age (500 BC- 500 AD). The Caledonians who lived in this area would have used the fort for protection during this troubled period. Schiehallion, the fairy hill of the Caledonians, rises five miles to the north.
In the early Christian period (500-1000 AD) massive walled circular homesteads were introduced to the area. Dun Geal (White Fort) is one of the best preserved in the district.
These monuments reflect continued activity over a period of 4,000 years from the first farmers to the coming of Christianity. For much of that time the yew tree would have been a venerated local feature.
There is no evidence for the strange tradition that Pontius Pilate was born in Fortingall following a visit by his father to the Caledonians. The Romans did not arrive in Scotland until around 80 AD.

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