Draycott’s most ancient yews

If you walk around Draycott, you’ll see that there are few connections to Draycott’s past that date back more than one thousand years. Even the stones of St Margaret’s Church, old as they are, only go back to the thirteenth century.
Yet, there is something that goes back a whole millennium in time – Draycott’s yew-trees.

Draycott yew-tree E

The yew tree nearest the east of the church

Back around the Norman Conquest of 1066, there was a grove of yew-trees on Draycott’s highest point – the mound on which St Margaret’s Church now stands.
The yews that stand nowadays in the churchyard, to the east and the south-west of the church itself, are all that is left of that ancient grove; and have been proven to be much older than even other yews in the district.

Matthew Pointon, in his book on the history of Draycott-in-the-Moors, thinks that they could be among the oldest yew trees in the whole country. They are classified as such on the UK Ancient Yew Listings.

Immortality

The trees are carefully preserved nowadays, and recently had an overdue pruning. If you go by the churchyard, you’ll see the raw ends of the sawn-off trunks.

Draycott yew tree S-W

The Draycott yew tree by the church’s entrance … before pruning

One other benefit of the pruning is that certain headstones, which had become covered over the tree’s growth and foliage, have now been restored to the light again!

Draycott yew-trees pruned

… and the same tree, after pruning… with headstones now exposed

The question is: why did the Christians who built the church all those years ago allow the yew-trees to remain?
There are two reasons, one symbolic, one practical…    First, the yew’s evergreen quality is a symbol of immortality in a graveyard; and secondly, they also provided some protection for the church from the wind and rain!
In later years, the yews’ wood provided arrows for medieval archers.

++
The Roman mystery

Of course, some people reading this might, even now, be muttering that there are even older signs of the past in Draycott – older than the yews.
For example: “what about the Roman carvings on the rock face diagonally opposite the Draycott Arms?” they might say.
And the Roman tiles that were found in the nearby stream?

Well, trouble is, it seems that the holes one can see clearly in the rock-face behind the Old Post Office are actually probably only 500 years old. It’s a myth that they are of Roman times.
And as for the Roman tiles, no one seems to know where they are now…

***
Want to comment on any of the information in this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.

(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to, and it is always kept private anyway and never published, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).

If you find the photos on this webpage too small to see properly, all you have to do is double-click on the photo itself, and it will double in size immediately.

Advertisements

Write your comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s