Yew sets ancient tone of burial ground

books, Research, UK History, Writers
Yews in churchyards may point to pre-Christian beliefs in the sacred. Photograph: Matthew L. Tagney

Yews in churchyards may point to pre-Christian beliefs in the sacred. Photograph: Matthew L. Tagney

It might be thought that when Thomas Hardy stepped aside from his narrative in Jude The Obscure to describe Shaston, or Shaftesbury, “on the summit of a steep and imposing scarp, rising … out of the deep alluvial vale of Blackmoor” as “one of the queerest and quaintest spots in England”, he was being unduly fanciful.

But if, today, you turn aside from St John’s Hill, close to that summit, in to a small enclosed space beside the road and take in the sight of the ancient yew before you, its limbs spreading out wide and close to the ground above scattered headstones, then look ahead towards the sheer drop into the expanse of the vale, you do catch a sense of the local magic and feel you are indeed in a special place.

 

Via The Guardian: http://gu.com/p/4fe4d/stw

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J.L. JARVIS