SOME of Britain’s most ancient yews, said to be up to 5,000 years old, may be about to have millennia lopped off their estimated ages.

A new system of ageing has led experts to concluding that famed ‘ancient trees’ like the Llangernyw yew in Conwy and the St Cynogs in South Wales are centuries younger than was previously thought.

The claims, published in the July issue of the Royal Forestry Society’s Quarterly Journal of Forestry, have been made by founder member of the Ancient Yew Group Toby Hindson, Dr Andy Moir from Brunel University and Dr Peter Thomas of Keele and Harvard Universities.

Their research is based on extensive studies of ancient yews in Sussex, and is inspired by ‘Unified Field Theory’, uniting different methods based on tree girth, tree rings and historic rates of growth which had previously generated their own incomplete pictures.

Toby Hindson said: “These oldest specimens would have been standing when Britain was ruled by the Saxons and the very oldest may have been young at the time of the Roman invasion – just not in the Bronze Age.”