The tree seems to have been rare in the Highlands for a long time. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica.
According to Richard Mabey in his Flora Britannica “… no other type of ancient tree occurs so frequently inside church grounds …”. The very hard, close-grained wood was used in furniture making.
“Yew.” Royal Forestry Society. & Dauncey, E.A. Of double-fatal yew against thy state.
Estimates suggest the Fortingall yew in Glen Lyon could be anything from over two thousand to nine thousand years old.
These were then used during the Scots’ victorious battle at Bannockburn in 1314. News reached him at Fortingall of the birth of his son. Archers used these to devastating effect during the Hundred Years War.
It is sweet and often eaten by birds, but the black seeds the arils hold are poisonous (2).Significance to Cultural CommunitiesWood from the Taxus Baccata was popularly used during the Middle Ages to make longbows for war. http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/projects/a_abowath/Discovery.html7.
Cashman, Kevin & Craig, Mary Beth. (6) According to legend, Robin Hood had strong ties with the Yew tree.
A popular legend relates how Pontius Pilate was born under this tree or played as a child in its branches.
Annotations for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5), The Curse of Macbeth
At the approximate centre of Scotland grows what is Scotland’s, and possibly Europe’s, oldest tree. For the first year, yew should be given a nutrient rich liquid feed every three weeks (3). Compare Richard II: In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown: The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows Of double-fatal … It was also used by Native Americans to treat fever, rheumatism, or athritis (5).
“Taxus Baccatus - L.” Plants for a Future. Macbeth Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
A company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland – company No.
He used a bow made from yew to win the hand of Maid Marion and married her under a yew tree. Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71)
Though the Romans did not invade Britain until 43 AD, several expeditions had visited from 55 BC onwards.
SECOND WITCH: Yew’s Gaelic name is iubhair or euair. Some, such as the one beside Fortingall’s church may even predate Christianity itself. Trees for Life is a registered Scottish charity – number SC021303. Cooper, M.R., Johnson, A.W. SC143304, with registered offices at The Park, Findhorn Bay, Forres, Moray, IV36 3TH. Argyll Publishing. (2.4.60)
The yew tree is another of our native trees which the Druids held sacred in pre-Christian times. Yew trees are commonly found in churchyards in England. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.
December 17, 2013. http://www.conifers.org/ta/Taxus_baccata.php, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center, UIC Heritage Garden has received generous support from The UIC Sustainability Fee, The USDA Forest Service International Programs, and the UIC Office of Diversity, © All Rights Reserved/ UIC Heritage Garden, http://www.ch.ic.ac.uk/local/projects/a_abowath/Discovery.html.
Shakespeare's Sources for Macbeth
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron."
During the last week of June and first week of July, a chemical treatment should be applied to the roots to kill any pests (3).
Evergreen tree, English yew, European yew, Yew grows best in zones 5-7.
The pH level of the soil can range from acidic to alkaline. Second Witch
Gall of goat, and slips of yew (Gall is bile, slip of yew means a cutting from a yew tree) Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-deliver’d by a drab, (Drab = whore – these lines mean the baby was … VAT No. Oxford University Press: Oxford. People buried yew shoots with the deceased, and used boughs of yew as ‘Palms’ in church at Easter. http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Taxus+baccata 2.
Some interpretations suggest that Pilate’s father was on a diplomatic mission to a Pictish King. It should be grown in full sunlight, partial sunlight, or partial shade.
This relationship between places of worship and a single tree species is unique in the Western world.
All Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. The name of the island of Iona probably derived from Ioua, the Pictish word for yew. Wordsworth. November 2004. http://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/EnglishYew.asp 6. Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Gall of goat and slips of yew Slivered in the moon’s eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-delivered by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab.
Robin hood was also said to be buried under a yew (7).From the Community Voice"Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,Witches' mummy, maw and gulfOf the ravined salt-sea shark,Root of hemlock digged i' th' dark,Liver of blaspheming Jew,Gall of goat and slips of yewSlivered in the moon’s eclipse,Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,Finger of birth-strangled babeDitch-delivered by a drab,Make the gruel thick and slab.Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,For the ingredients of our cauldron."
- Third witch in Macbeth, William Shakespeare (prelude to the famous line, "something wicked this way comes")______________________1.
The height of this plant can reach 49 feet and the width can reach 32 feet. This may have further contributed to its connections with death.
“Taxus baccata.” The Gymnosperm Database.
ALL: Double, double, toil and trouble;(35) Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Earle, Christopher J.
Top 10 Quotations from Macbeth, Soliloquy Analysis: If it were done when 'tis done (1.7.1-29), Soliloquy Analysis: Is this a dagger (2.1.33-61), Soliloquy Analysis: To be thus is nothing (3.1.47-71), Soliloquy Analysis: She should have died hereafter (5.5.17-28), Annotations for Lady Macbeth's Soliloquy (1.5).
The red fruit it produces is eaten by many birds like blackbirds, mistle thrush, fieldfare, etc.
During dry summer months, yew should be regularly watered. The themes of death and resurrection continued into the Christian era. Yew has always been popular in England, and the European yew tree is now nearly extinct because of the extensive use of weapons making from the Hundred Year's War. Yew is in bloom from March to April. Vickery, R. (1995) A Dictionary of Plant Lore.
The arils are the red, fleshy fruit that grows on the tree. Fife H. (1994) Warriors and Guardians: native highland trees. It is suited to sandy, loamy, or clay soils.
Shakespeare was familiar with these qualities when he had Macbeth concoct a poisonous brew. In fact very old specimens of yew trees are now rare outside of church grounds.
But yew wood is perhaps best known as the material from which the medieval English longbows were made.
This suggests that it was already a landmark over two thousand years ago.
Yew is an important part of many habitats. Quotations from Macbeth (Full)
Drooping branches of old yew trees can root and form new trunks where they touch the ground.
Compare Richard II: In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown:
It is also useful for birds because it provides shelter and nesting (4).Culinary and Medicinal UsesTaxane is derived from the tree, it is used in products like taxol which is a cancer medication (1). Gall of goat, and slips of yew Silver'd in the moon's eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe (30) Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab: Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.
Today a large cemetery remains at the foot of this hill.
“Care Guide for English Yew (Taxus Baccata).” Crown Topiary: English Sculpture. (1996) Tree Wisdom.
This is because these words can also refer to juniper, which was sometimes known as mountain yew. Birlinn: Edinburgh. People buried yew shoots with the deceased, and used boughs of yew as ‘Palms’ in church at Easter. Macbeth Study Quiz (with detailed answers)
The berry flesh has been used by herbalists to treat a variety of ailments including cystitis, headache and neuralgia. Several other yews growing by churches have become famous in their own right.
The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows
It responds well to trimming and pruning.
The themes of death and resurrection continued into the Christian era.
“Taxus Baccata (common yew).” Kew Royal Botanical Gardens.
Milliken, W & Bridgewater, S (2004) Flora Celtica: plants and people in Scotland. The plant should be spaced 15-20 feet apart. (1993) The Golden Bough: a study in magic and religion. Frazer, J. The Celts will also have been familiar with the toxicity of the tree’s needles in particular. Thus the yew came to symbolise death and resurrection in Celtic culture. This island, along with Kilneuair (Church of the Yew) are religious and spiritual places, so it is almost certain that the names are a reflection of such places’ affinity with yew trees. Mercat Press. http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Taxus-baccata.htm 3. Tomnahurich in Inverness would also be a likely candidate for an association with yews rather than junipers. © 2020.
slips of yew (4.1.27) The yew tree was planted frequently in graveyards and the wood is poisonous; thus it has a twofold association with death.
Sinclair-Stevenson: London. Here's the quote: "Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat and slips of yew Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe" Is that some kind of witch ingredient or do they mean the Turkic people of Russia, the Tatars? “Discovery.” Ch.inperial.ac.uk.
The seeds ripen from September to November.
Compare also Twelfth Night: I am slain by a fair cruel maid. All parts of the tree are highly poisonous if ingested except for the red arils the tree produces.