<%BANNER%>

Religion, war, and changing landscapes: an historical and ecological account of the yew tree (Taxus Baccata L.) in Ireland

University of Florida Institutional Repository

PAGE 1

RELIGION, WAR, AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES: AN HISTORICAL AND ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNT OF THE YEW TREE ( Taxus baccata L .) IN IRELAND By J. L. DELAHUNTY A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2002

PAGE 2

This work is dedicated to the Lord and Mickey.

PAGE 3

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I cannot thank my assistants, both friends and family, in Ireland enough: Colin McCowan, Richard and Judy Delahunty, Con Foley, Tom Millane, and Dr. Lee. I also wish to thank my family and friends in America who aided tremendously in this endeavor: Olivia Perry-Smith, Art Frieberg, Desiree Price, Terry Lucansky, Tim Burke, and John Stockwell. Of course, I could not have done this without help from my mentors at the Geography Department: Mike Binford, Pete Waylen, and Ary Lamme. Other academics who aided in this research were William Kenney, Mark Brenner, Jason Curtis, David Dilcher, Fraser Mitchell, Edwina Cole, Tara Nolan, Bob Devoy, Mike Baillie, and David Brown. Finally, I give thanks to the Lord for creating the majestic yew tree and the beautiful island of Ireland and blessing me with the finest of family and friends. iii

PAGE 4

TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES...........................................................................................................viii LIST OF FIGURES...........................................................................................................ix ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................xi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................1 The Yew Tree--A Cultural Icon.......................................................................................1 Nature and Civilization....................................................................................................2 The Yew Trees (Genus Taxus)........................................................................................3 The Common Yew (Taxus baccata L.)............................................................................4 Substance and Organization of Dissertation....................................................................6 2 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE PREHISTORY TO THE 19 TH CENTURY...................................................................................................11 Introduction....................................................................................................................11 The Yew in Place Names (Toponyms)..........................................................................11 Celtic Reverence of Yew Trees.....................................................................................16 Christian Reverence of Yew Trees................................................................................21 The Yew and Craftsmanship in Northwestern Europe..................................................22 The Yew in Literature....................................................................................................23 Yew Longbows..............................................................................................................25 The Yew in Heraldry.....................................................................................................29 The Yew in Art..............................................................................................................30 Summary .....................................................................................................................30 3 THE YEW ON THE PREHISTORIC AND HISTORIC LANDSCAPE.....................36 Introduction to the Yew in Palynological Analyses......................................................36 Section 1: The Prehistoric and Historic Abundance of Yew in Ireland and the Political and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual Decline.........................................................................................................39 The Early Postglacial/Boreal and Mesolithic Culture............................................42 iv

PAGE 5

The Atlantic Period and Neolithic Culture.............................................................43 The Sub-Boreal Period and the Copper and Bronze Ages.....................................46 The Sub-Atlantic Period, the Celtic Culture, and the Iron Age.............................47 The Celts and the Coming of Christianity.............................................................48 The Changes of the 12 th Century and the Norman Invasion..................................50 The House of Tudor and the House of Stuart........................................................52 Irelands Losses......................................................................................................54 A Changed Icon.....................................................................................................56 Summary of the Regional Analysis.......................................................................56 Section 2: The Prehistoric and Historic Presence of Yew in Youghal and the Physical, Political, and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual Decline.........................................................................................57 Introduction to Youghal.........................................................................................58 A brief history..................................................................................................58 A town with many names................................................................................58 The geological landscape and its origins.........................................................59 The areas shoreline.........................................................................................61 Youghals shoreline.........................................................................................62 The Yew in Youghals Prehistory Paleoecological Evidence.............................63 Core site locations............................................................................................64 Pollen concentration.........................................................................................66 Pollen counting................................................................................................67 Radiocarbon dating..........................................................................................67 Pollen data........................................................................................................67 Interpretation and discussion of the pollen data retrieved from the cores.......69 Comment..........................................................................................................74 The Yew in Youghals History Archeological and Archival Evidence...............74 Eochaill and its yews to 830 A.D.....................................................................74 The latter 9 th century to the Norman invasion.................................................77 The 12-15th centuries......................................................................................78 16 th century Youghal........................................................................................81 A landscape transformed: The 17 th century.....................................................83 Denudation to reforestation: Descriptions of Youghal in the 1700s and 1800s..................................................................................................85 Summary of the Local Analysis.............................................................................88 4 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE IN THE 20 TH AND 21 ST CENTURIES.........................................................................................................98 The Yew and the Contemporary Craftsman..................................................................98 The Yews Infamous Role.............................................................................................99 The Yew in 20 th and 21 st Century Literature...............................................................100 Taxol and Cancer.........................................................................................................100 Recent News................................................................................................................101 The Yews Natural Pesticide.......................................................................................101 The Yew and Wastewater Treatment...........................................................................102 Yew Wood and Dendrochronology.............................................................................102 v

PAGE 6

Biodiversity in a Yew Forest.......................................................................................104 Genetic Variation Studies............................................................................................104 Yew Conservation........................................................................................................105 Miscellaneous Yew Happenings..................................................................................106 Summary ...................................................................................................................106 5 THE YEW TREE ON THE CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE..............................108 Introduction..................................................................................................................108 Materials and Methods.........................................................................................109 Estimating the Age of Yew Trees........................................................................110 Vegetative Regeneration and Tree-Forming........................................................111 The Yew Trees of Youghal..........................................................................................112 The Yews of Myrtle Grove..................................................................................112 The Yews of St. Marys Church of Ireland..........................................................114 The Yew at Molana Abbey..................................................................................115 Yews at Other Ecclesiastical Sites...............................................................................116 The Carmelite Monastery of Castlemartyr...........................................................116 Lismore Cemetery................................................................................................118 St. Michael and St. Davids Church of Dungarvan..............................................119 Aglish Cemetery..................................................................................................119 Ballincollig Military Cemetery............................................................................120 The Ancient Barnane Church and Graveyard......................................................120 The Churchtown Ruin and Graveyard.................................................................121 The Kilcockan Ruin and Graveyard.....................................................................121 The Kilwatermoy Church Ruin and Graveyard...................................................122 The Leap Church Ruin and Graveyard................................................................122 The Cemetery at Mackeys Cross........................................................................123 Screhanero Graveyard..........................................................................................123 The Catholic Churches of Timoleague and Aghada Upper.................................123 Discussion of Yews Found on Ecclesiastical Sites......................................................124 Similarities Among Solitary Churchyard Yews...................................................124 Religious Affiliation............................................................................................125 Fosses, Stone Walls, and Cattle Poisoning..........................................................126 Yew Rows, Monks Walks, and Other Noteworthy Yews..................................127 Some Final Thoughts on Yews at Ecclesiastical Sites.........................................128 Yew Woods..................................................................................................................129 The Yew Woods on Foaty Island.........................................................................129 The Yews of Glengarra Wood.............................................................................132 The Yew Wood at Lismore Castle.......................................................................135 Discussion of the Yew Woods.....................................................................................135 Similarities in Terms of Size................................................................................135 Tree-Forming in the Woods.................................................................................137 Chapter Summary........................................................................................................140 vi

PAGE 7

6 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION.........................................................................159 The Questions Answered.............................................................................................159 A Discussion of the Yews Position on the Landscape from the Neolithic Period to the 21 st Century.........................................................................................162 Predictions for the Future of Yew in Ireland...............................................................166 Additional Studies........................................................................................................168 The Yew in the Global Picture.....................................................................................169 Concluding Statements................................................................................................171 APPENDIX A RADIOCARBON DATING RESULTS.....................................................................178 B RAW POLLEN DATA AND TRANSFORMED VALUES FOR POLLEN ZONATION................................................................................................................180 C LOCATIONAL, SEX, AND CIRCUMFERENCE DATA FOR SOME OF THE TREES RESEARCHED..............................................................................................185 D NUMBER OF COMMON AND/OR IRISH YEWS IN 84 CHURCHYARDS.........188 E YEW TREE DATA FROM FOTA AND GLENGARRA WOOD............................190 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................200 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................213 vii

PAGE 8

LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1. Derivations of yew towns obtained from Flanagan (1194), Joyce (1990), Lewis (1837), Room (1986), Shirley (1863), and Windele (1910)..................................33 3-1. The evolution of the spelling of Youghal from the 16th to the 19th centuries......92 viii

PAGE 9

LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 1-1. Fluted trunk of yew tree................................................................................................8 1-2. Male flower of Taxus baccata in February..................................................................9 1-3. Arils in November. Photo by author.............................................................................9 1-4. Location of Youghal within Co,Cork, Ireland..............................................................9 1-5. Organization of dissertation........................................................................................10 2-1. Locations of towns named after the yew tree in Ireland............................................32 2-2. Seal of the Lordship of Newry..................................................................................35 3-1. Pollen obtained directly from male flower.................................................................89 3-2. Pollen after pollen concentration methods.................................................................89 3-3. Locations of palynological investigations..................................................................90 3-4. Section of Mitchells (1990) pollen diagram..............................................................90 3-5. Portal tomb at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo.......................................................................91 3-6. Yew hedge at Lismore Castle Gardens, Co. Waterford.............................................91 3-7. The creation of limestone valleys found in southern Ireland ....................................93 3-8. The Youghal strand....................................................................................................94 3-9. Peat on the strand........................................................................................................94 3-10. Map of relevant locations discussed in the chapter..................................................95 3-11. Marsh core (MC) pollen data....................................................................................96 3-12. Strand core (SC) pollen data.....................................................................................97 4-1. Mushrooms growing on yew trees............................................................................107 ix

PAGE 10

5-1 General area searched for churchyard yews and yew woods....................................143 5-2 One yew or three?......................................................................................................144 5-3 Aged yews hollow in the center................................................................................145 5-4 A tree-formed yew at Glengarra Wood.....................................................................146 5-5 The scar of a formerly tree-formed yew at Fota........................................................147 5-6 A postcard print of a c.1850 woodcut........................................................................147 5-7 Yew "couple" at the end of the yew row at Myrtle Grove........................................148 5-8 Canopy of Myrtle Grove yew row.............................................................................148 5-9 Myrtle Grove yew row and undergrowth..................................................................149 5-10 Female yew at St. Marys Church of Ireland...........................................................149 5-11 Foliage of Irish yew.................................................................................................150 5-12 Location of yews discussed in chapter 5.................................................................151 5-13 Yew locations outside of the general study area.....................................................152 5-14 Yew row at Lismore Famine Cemetery...................................................................152 5-15 Yew row in Dungarvan, Co. Kilkenny....................................................................153 5-16 Barnane ruin............................................................................................................153 5-17 The female yew at Mackeys Cross.........................................................................154 5-18 Pair of yew rows with circular hedge in the middle................................................154 5-19 Irish yew row at Midleton, Co. Cork.......................................................................154 5-20 Excerpt from 1841 OS map of Glengarra Wood.....................................................155 5-21 Monks Walk of common yew at Lismore Castle Gardens.....................................155 5-22 Girth distributions of yew trees at Fota Wood and Glengarra Wood......................156 5-23. The difference between historically tree-formed yews and yews that have been relatively undisturbed ..........................................................................................157 x

PAGE 11

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RELIGION, WAR, AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES: AN HISTORICAL AND ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNT OF THE YEW TREE (Taxus baccata L.) IN IRELAND By J.L. Delahunty December 2002 Chair: Dr. Michael Binford Major Department: Geography This research identifies cultural and ecological factors that influenced yew tree (Taxus baccata L.) populations in and around the parish of Youghal, County Cork, Ireland since c.5000 BP. The Celts revered the tree as "noble" and considered it a symbol of life and death. The Normans used it as raw material for the longbow. All species in the genus contain taxol, which has cured ovarian cancer. It is the longest lived tree species in Europe. Scotlands Fortingall yew is reputed to be 5,000 years old. Toponymic analysis revealed over 160 Irish towns named after the yew. Palynological analyses in Ireland are extensive, yet the yews former distribution and abundance are largely unknown as the pollen has only recently been recognized. These qualities make it a worthy subject for cultural and paleoecological research. The tree, however, is now infrequent in Ireland. Youghal (Eochaill in Gaelic, meaning "yew forest") has relatively few yews. Paleoecological and historical methods are applied to identify the cultural and ecological xi

PAGE 12

factors that caused population fluctuations, and an eventual rarity, of yews in Youghal. The data reveal that yews were present in the Youghal area throughout the second half of the Holocene and that their populations have disappeared relatively recently (within the 1st millennium AD). The project contributes to the knowledge of several Holocene species declines and multidecadal scale climate reconstructions. The paleoecological changes on the Youghal landscape are cross referenced with European Holocene climate data and analyzed in terms of other arboreal pollen changes in Ireland. Paleoecological, archeological, and archival data are utilized to create a chronological history of the landscape changes that affected the yew tree over the past 5,000 years. xii

PAGE 13

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The Yew Tree--A Cultural Icon There stands a yew tree in Perthshire, Scotland as old as the days of Solomon. Hartzell (1991) recounts the local legend of the birth of Pontius Pilate in a Roman camp nearby, stating that the tree would then have been at least 1,000 years old. This tree, the Fortingall Yew, is reputed to be the oldest in Europe (Voliotis 1986). Scotlands brown tourist signs taunt the sightseer from miles away to look at the relics marvelous green foliage. But the foliage can only be seen hanging over a strong, tall, encompassing stone wall. A plaque stands outside which reads: Before you stands Europesand possibly even the worldsoldest living thing. Under the dark veil of needles are two relic trunks of a huge, ancient yew tree. Scholars believe the roots of this great survivor coil back some 5,000 years. The markers show you the size of the original evergreen giant in 1769 when it had a girth of over 56 feet (17m). Sadly, it attracted souvenir hunters who removed large sections. Children then lit fires inside the hollow trunk and funeral processions passed through its midst. Eventually, this wall had to be built to stop the tree disappearing altogether. Below this memorandum is a diagram entitled My life which reveals numerous events that occurred during this trees lifetime such as the construction of the Pyramids and Stonehenge, the arrival of the Celts to Ireland, the birth of Jesus Christ To the right of this it states Little wonder then that when early Christians came to Fortingall in the 7 th century they decided to build their new church next to the ancient yew. 1

PAGE 14

2 If one needed to identify a species revered for millennia by many nations, it would be Taxus baccata, the yew tree. J.E. Rogers (1935) goes as far as to say about the yew, Its history is interwoven with the growth of civilisation. Cultures within Ireland, Scotland, England, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Yugoslavia, Poland, Japan, China, and America all have folklore that include the yews mystical powers. The tree has been considered a symbol of life and death and been depicted as the tree of life, highways traveled between earth and heaven. . a manifestation of Gods existence (Klein 1987). Nature and Civilization The vital role of plants in early human development is universally acknowledged. The concept of plants providing humans with food, shelter, clothing, hunting tools, and medicine has been ingrained in our conscience from youth. The domestication of cereals was the first step to sedentary life leading the way to communal culture. It is easy for us to imagine the necessity of plants to our ancestors, to understand them as essential ingredients in the commencement of our familiar civilization. The role of plants in our contemporary existence is, however, often overlooked. Our progression as a western civilization and the development of urban centers has resulted in remote perceptions. Having not grown the fruit or the timber ourselves, or lived in the same place long enough to see the oak tree grow from an acorn, we no longer respect the processes involved in the creation of the product. This societal lack of appreciation extends not only to plants, but the physical environment as a whole. Environmentalists are ever trying to persuade the developer to consider the natural environment lest society pay the consequences of the deforestation, increased atmospheric pollutants, loss of biodiversity, alteration of hydrology, etc.

PAGE 15

3 Current environmental concerns necessitate the reconsideration of the primitively respected physical environment. Our knowledge about the role of nature in prehistory is a result of the archeologists and paleoecologists exploration and communication of prehistory. What is necessary today, in order for societies to consider and respect their connections with the natural environment, is the exploration and communication of the physical changes occurring on the natural landscape coupled with the changes and evolution of values and belief systems through history. American cultural geographers, influenced by Carl Sauers work (The Agency of Man on Earth 1956 The Morphology of Landscape 1968, etc .), reliably consider the integral part of the physical environment in the development of culture. The core belief of the discipline is that cultural landscapes (assemblages of tangible elements that humans have created or altered on the Earth) are a direct result of a two-way relationship between nature and society. The fundamental philosophy is that the examination of a landscapes components (considered in context) will reveal information about the ideological, sociological, and technological subsystems of the inhabitants. The Yew Trees (Genus Taxus) This research examines a particular landscape element, a species of tree, in a particular location, but let us first take a look at the species as a member of its genus within a global context. Taxus, the yew trees, a group of shade tolerant evergreens is placed in the phylum Coniferophyta, class Taxopsida (Holt 2002). The order is uncertain as Meyen (1987) places it within the Pinales while Florin (1948), Hartzell (1991), and Holt (2002) place it within the Taxales. Taxus belongs to the family Taxaceae along with Austrotaxus and

PAGE 16

4 Torreya. The number of species within the genus has not been agreed upon, the 7 or 8 named species are so closely related that they are most likely variations of one collective species (Voliotis 1986; Bugala 1975; Keen 1956). In North America there are T. floridana of Florida, T. brevifolia of the northwest, and T. canadensis of southeast Canada and the northeast United States. In Middle America there is T. globosa. In Asia there are T. cuspidata of east China and Japan, and T. sumatrana of India and the Philippines. T. baccata is found in Europe, North Africa, Caucasus, and Turkey (Aas and Riedmiller 1994). The entire genus of this infrequent tree is currently attracting attention in the medical industry. Taxus contains taxol, a substance that has proved to cure certain types of cancer. Researchers are desperately trying to synthesize the substance as over-harvesting has become a problem and it is not known how long the current populations will last. This contemporary interest in the tree is dramatically different than that of history. It was revered by many cultures and played numerous roles in the history of western and eastern civilization. The tree prehistorically provided the raw material for tools and religious artifacts. Historically it has provided the raw material for weapons and housewares, been associated with religious ceremony, and been used extensively in topiary. The Common Yew (Taxus baccata L.) Taxus baccata was named by Linnaeus in the fifteenth century. The colloquial names include English yew, European yew, and common yew. Its dark green foliage is comprised of simple needles that are flat and linear with a raised midrib and short petioles. The needles are 6-25 mm long and 2-2.5 mm wide, living from 4 to 8 years (Szaniawski 1975). They are arranged spirally but appear two-ranked, forming flat

PAGE 17

5 sprays. The bark is reddish brown and varies from smooth to flaky. The trunks are often fluted (Figure 1-1) and the lower branches drop down to touch the ground, like arms that support the tree, if they are left unmanaged by humans. They are shorter than most forest trees with an average height of 15-28 m (British-trees.com). The trees are dioecious, meaning individual trees are either male or female. The male flowers produce 6 to 14 stamens, each of which has 5 to 8 pollen sacs (Figure 1-2). The pollen is wind disseminated in February and March. In the fall and winter, the females develop a fleshy red aril that looks like a berry with one seed tucked inside an open end (Figure 1-3). The size of the seed is on average 6 x 4 x 3 mm (Bartkowiak 1975). The aril is edible but the seed is poisonous. The trees grow in an environment similar to that of deciduous broad-leaved trees (Violotis 1986). The yew is known in England for thriving on calcareous soils. Bugala (1975) says about Europe that the yew finds the best conditions for growth on fertile humus loamy and clay soils with favorable water and air relations. Voliotis (1986) states that the yew will also thrive even on sheer rock exposed to sunlight. The species survives throughout and beyond Europe, inclusive of the British Isles and the southern parts of Norway and Sweden. The distribution of T. baccata is indicative of a climate lacking extremes in cold and heat and hence favors a maritime climate. The northerly extent of the Scandinavian distribution is 61 degrees north latitude (Bugala 1975). Its distribution is limited by winter cold and higher elevations (Voliotis 1986; Mitchell and Ryan 1998). The highest elevation on which it is found is 2300 m in Asia Minor (Bugala 1975). It is also found in the very northern parts of North Africa. The eastern range limits coincide with the boundary of the continental climate. Both Hulme

PAGE 18

6 (1996) and Voliotis (1986) make the generalization that yew is sensitive to both frost and drought. The common yew reaches sexual maturity at about 70 years of age (Hulme 1996; Milner 1992). It is believed to be the longest-lived tree species in Europe with an average life span of 500 years (Hulme 1996; Milner 1992). The Darley Dale Yew in Derbyshire, England is thought to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, the Tisbury Yew in Wiltshire, England over 2,000 years old (Hartzell 1991). The yew grows very slowly. The girth increases only 1.1 cm per year for the first 500 years (Milner 1992). Allen Meredith has documented evidence of tremendous variation in this estimate (Chetan and Brueton 1994). The timber, because of its slow growth rate, is very compact. Czartoryski (1975) sums up the timber quality: Since long, long ago the yew has been looked for by man as its wood is incomparable in its durabilitythe yew wood is one of the most beautiful in the world. Substance and Organization of Dissertation The ancient annals, myths, and laws of Great Britain and Ireland reveal a historical reverence for this species that is relatively unseen today. Great Britain and Ireland are excellent study areas for historical analyses of cultural landscape changes (involving cultural perceptions and utilizations of elements) because they retain a goldmine of ancient literature. This region additionally provides the researcher with physical evidence of vegetative landscape change as the area has undergone a great deal of paleobotanical examination. The purpose of this dissertation is to report the patterns and processes involved in the changing perceptions and abundance of the yew as a landscape element. The account is investigated in a regional (Northwestern Europe and more specifically Ireland) and

PAGE 19

7 local (Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland) context. Regional analysis provides the reader with an overall perception of changes in the yews physical abundance and cultural exploitation through time. Ireland was chosen as the main study area because of the Celtic reverence for yew and the regions legendary attempts to retain its cultural integrity. Local analysis provides the reader with an appreciation for the complexity of events occurring within one community and its inevitable links to the region. The parish of Youghal, located at the mouth of the River Blackwater, on the southeastern edge of Co. Cork, southern Ireland (Figure 1-4), was chosen because of its etymological associations (Youghal is the anglicized version of Eochaille, Celtic for yew wood), the presence of ancient fossil yews, and the presence of living yews. The account begins in prehistory and ends in the present and uses the research methods of paleoecology, cultural geography, history, and ethnobotany. The study asks five questions, ultimately providing an understanding of the common yews progression as a landscape element: What was the prehistoric and historic cultural significance of the yew tree? Was the yew a common element in the prehistoric and historic landscape? What is the cultural significance of the yew tree in recent times? How common is it on the contemporary landscape? What are the reasons for its relative scarcity today and what does this tell us about the evolution of the regions culture? The first four questions are addressed in chapters 2-5. Each of these chapters contains the relevant methods and research results. These chapters stand as individual diachronic subsections as they explore the human and/or physical geography of a certain period of time (Figure 1-5). In general, a progressive prehistory-to-present chronology is

PAGE 20

8 provided by the assemblage of the two adjacent time periods (prehistory to the 19 th century & the 20 th to 21 st centuries), each period having a two-part discussion. The first identifies the cultural significance of the yew during the time period, the second reports information regarding its physical presence. A discussion (chapter 6) based on the last question follows the chronology. The following work reports the human interactions and associations with this particular landscape element, the yew tree, as well as physical evidence of its presence through time. I focus on aspects of both human and physical geography, exploring the patterns and processes of the yews history as a landscape element. This text is an exploration of religion, war, and changing landscapes: An historical and ecological account of the yew tree (Taxus baccata L.). Figure 1-1. Fluted trunk of yew tree. Photo by author.

PAGE 21

9 Figure 1-2. Male flower of Taxus baccata in February. Photo by author. Figure 1-3. Arils in November. Photo by author. YoughalIreland N 1cm = c.45km Figure 1-4. Location of Youghal within Co,Cork, Ireland.

PAGE 22

10 1900 A.D. 2002 A.D. 3,000 B.C. Cultural SignificancePhysical PresenceChapter2 Chapter3 Chapter4 Chapter5 Figure 1.5. Organization of dissertation. Chapter 2 reports the cultural significance of yew from prehistory to 1900 A.D. Chapter 4 reports its cultural significance for the last few centuries. Chapter 3 reports the physical presence of yew from prehistory to 1900 A.D. Chapter 5 reports the contemporary physical presence of yew.

PAGE 23

CHAPTER 2 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE PREHISTORY TO THE 19 TH CENTURY Introduction Wilkinson (1973) stated that the oldest known tool made of wood is a 50,000 year-old yew spear found in Essex, England. Later analysis by Oakley et al. (1977) suggests that it is actually a thrusting spear belonging to the Hoxnian interglacial (occurring c. 200,000 years ago). In ancient times yew extract was placed on arrow tips as a poison (Hartzell 1991; Daniewski et al. 1998). The Celtic culture revered the trees physical characteristics and respected it as a spiritual icon. Many European towns are named for a connection with this tree. The yews associations with ancient civilizations and Christian era mythology, folklore, religious practice, ancient law texts, poetic literature, art, and heraldry are explored below. Several of these categories form their own timeline where others simply mention significant cultural associations. The chapter starts with a brief toponymic (placename) analysis of Europe and a comprehensive toponymic analysis of Ireland. In total, this chapter explores the various utilitarian, mythological, and religious associations of the tree with the European, and more specifically Irish, culture from prehistory to the end of the 19 th century. The Yew in Place Names (Toponyms) As an element of culture, place names serve as multifunctional signposts in a landscape (OFlanagan 1979). Countless places in the world are named after plants important to a particular culture. The study of place names, or toponymy, can be a useful 11

PAGE 24

12 ethnobotanical endeavor. Place names associated with particular plants may indicate their presence on the historical, and even ancient, landscape. One of the first endeavors of this research was to explore place names associated with the yew tree. This exploration aided in the selection of the study area. Many towns throughout Europe are named after a story relating to the yew (Halifax, England) or named because of the presence of the yew (Eburodunum, Switzerland)(Hartzell 1991). A few examples in England are Eridge (yew ridge), Iden (yew tree pasture), Iwade (yew ford), and Uley (yew wood)(Chetan and Brueton 1994). Hartzell (1991) claims that derivations of yew can be found as place names all over Europe where the trees have been extinct for centuries. Erikkson (1913) used toponymy to identify the yews former distribution in Sweden, as did Svenning and Magard (1998) for Denmark, and Turowska (1928) for Poland. There are over 160 yew towns in Ireland. The sheer number suggests that yew was once prevalent on the island. The most common associated names are Newrath (yew land), Ballinure (town of yew), and Oghill (yew wood). See table 2-1 for toponymic derivations and references. The three main etymological layers found among the place names of Ireland are Gaelic, Old English, and New English and they serve to sustain the flow of medieval into modern (OConnor 2001). The constant repetition of place names in Ireland marks some homogeneity of the Gaelic culture. Elements of names such as rath (fort), cill (church), and baile (home-place) are unequivocally prevalent. The unending attempt of the Irish to maintain their ancestral culture aided in the persistence of their countrys place names. There are inevitable hybrids of Gaelic and Norman but certain roots, or stories, remain to provide information about the original place name. The following

PAGE 25

13 section first outlines the criticisms of toponymic analysis and then describes methods involved in finding the yew-towns of Ireland. The criticisms of toponymic analysis are; natural circumstances have been altered since the names were given (Lind 1962), and people bring names with them in their journeys across the Earth (there are at least 34 towns in the United States named Chester, after Chester, England). Ireland is well known for its ancient place names and many historical name changes (by the English) have been reverted. Years ago, whilst meandering through a small town in western Ireland, I happened upon a little book Irish Local Names Explained (Joyce 1990). Via this source, more than 20 towns were identified as having their names derived from the word yew. Locating these towns was difficult as only a few of them were large or notable enough to be included on a small-scale map. After finally locating only 5 or 6 of the towns through various sources, it was evident that their distribution was not centered in any particular area. A larger scale reference was needed. The map library at the University of Florida yielded the General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and Baronies of Ireland: Based on the Census of Ireland for the year 1851. This reference turned the 20 yew-towns into over 100 yew-towns. The Census was used to formulate a database of all yew-town locations. For example, Joyce states that Ballinure or Ballynure essentially means town-of-the-yew and was anglicized from Baile-an-iubhair. The census revealed 8 Ballinures and 5 Ballynures. It was taken for granted in the preliminary book search that there was only one town per name! The location of such an old source was a blessing, if the source would have been more recent it might have been overlooked that there were yew-towns that no longer existed, many being absorbed into bigger townlands

PAGE 26

14 or re-named during the 19 th -20 th centuries. Suddenly there were 100+ towns to locate, most of which were not on the current Irish Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. The only hint for their geographic location, aside from what county they were in, was a reference in the Census to the corresponding historical OS Map Sheet. These maps turned out to be the 6 inch to 1 mile, second edition OS maps from the 1830s and 40s. A full set of these maps was available at the Trinity University Map Library in Dublin. These original maps were used to locate the town and the current OS maps were referenced to estimate coordinates. All coordinates were then placed into a database and the distribution of yew-towns was plotted using Arcview GIS 3.2 software. The database expanded as new sources that revealed historic yew-towns were found. Using the Census alone to find somewhat direct forms of ancient yew etymology had a major shortcoming. Even by 1851 many town names had been altered so much that their original meanings had been completely obscured. This dilemma was identified after finding a reference to Dun Eochaille in the Annals of Inisfallen (AI). Being that Eochaill is the direct Irish form of Youghal, which means yew-wood, Dun Eochaille must also be associated with a yew wood. The ancient text scholar, Dr. Donnchadh OCorrain was consulted as to where this town was (University College Cork, Co. Cork, personal communication, October 3 rd 2001). The reply was that it is now called Donohill and is in Co. Tipperary. Dun Eochaille was not in the census, Donohill, however, was. This town-name had been overlooked. It was later noticed that Joyce had actually mentioned the town of Donohill, illustrating his knowledge of toponymy and the ancient texts. I had simply become carried away with the obvious translations. I conclude that there are many yew towns excluded from the list due to the time frame of the Census.

PAGE 27

15 Another example presented itself: A town called Imlech Ibuir is mentioned in the Annals of Inisfallen (AI) and in the Annals of the Four Masters (AFM) as Imleach-Iubhair. Iubhair/Ibur is discussed by Joyce as one of the two Gaelic words referring to the yew (the other being eo). Dr. OCarrain stated that Imleach-Iubhair was actually the town of Emly in Co. Tipperary. It has contemporarily reverted to a version of its ancient Irish form Imleach. The difficulty in obtaining an accurate list of towns named after the yew can thus be appreciated. The ever-expanding list of towns was compiled from numerous sources and chance findings during road trips. Kevin Murray, an old-Irish linguist at University College Cork, is presently examining and verifying the etymology of the compiled yew-towns (listed in table 2-1). The towns along with their geographic coordinates are listed in Appendix A. There are no obvious patterns in the distribution of towns (Figure 2-1) but a project is underway to compare soil types with this distribution. The obvious holes in the distribution are areas where there is relatively high elevation. The map of distribution does not include the locations of 5 towns recently discovered. It is assumed that only a small percentage of these towns have yews today, as 8 of the 10 towns located in Co. Cork have none. The final list could be an underestimation or an overestimation. I prefer to think of it as an approximate number of towns named after the yew in Ireland. I do not ponder the past distribution of the species via this method but look at it as a cultural significance indicator for the species. Several counties in Ireland have up to 10 locations named after the tree but only Co. Cork had 10 distinct town names. For example, Oghil Beg and Oghil More in Co. Galway are adjacent to each other and could be considered one place named after the yew

PAGE 28

16 but are listed individually in the database. None of Corks yew-places border each other and it is worth noting that Co. Cork presents an interesting placename make-up, nearly 30% of the town names are biotic, the vast majority are of native origin, many of which subsequently have become anglicized (OFlanagan, 1979). Thus Co. Cork was considered as superior for a study of yew on the historic landscape. The town of Youghal was then chosen as it is historically connected through its name (it has already been mentioned that Youghal translates to yew wood), and local lore, to an ancient yew wood that supposedly existed there. There are in situ yew macrofossils in the location confirming its former presence. Celtic Reverence of Yew Trees Several finds of ancient yew artifacts such as Wilkinsons (1973) oldest known wooden tool made of yew found in England, and a Neolithic yew bow fragment found in Ireland (Glover 1979) tell us that the yew could have been present in Europe. This chapter, however, does not discuss its presence, but rather its cultural significance. The yew was obviously used as material for tools in ancient society. Cultural utilization of a landscape element can be verified by archaeological finds of tools, but cultural reverence is verified through the acquisition of ancient religious artifacts and through mythology and literature. Both utilitarian and religious ideals of the Celtic culture have been preserved through such effects. The earliest waves of Celtic invaders may have reached Ireland from central Europe as early as c. 600 BC with subsequent groups arriving up to the time of Christ. The sensitivity of the Celts (referring to the linguistic group which originated around the Danube) to their natural environment is evident from the measure of religious imagery associated with nature. The rural basis of their society meant that the Celts were intensely

PAGE 29

17 aware of their natural habitat. Concerning symbolism of the natural world, Mariboe (1994) conveys Celtic perceptions of their environment: The numinosity of all natural phenomena of the sky, sun, water, mountains, and trees demonstrates the close alliance existing between humankind and its surroundings. The suddenness of storms, the occurrence of drought, the capriciousness of water, the healing properties of springs and the daily reappearance of the sun, were all explicable only if these phenomena were controlled by the gods. (http://celt.net/celtic/celtopedia) There is evidence of the Celts having ancient uses, as well as reverence, for the yew tree specifically. A wheel with yew dowels dated c. 450 BC was found in Co. Roscommon (Lucas 1972). A yew boat was found in Co. Westmeath. Its construction dated to the 1st century A.D. (Brindley and Lanting 1991). An Iron Age carved idol made of yew was found in Co. Cavan (OSullivan 1990). The will of Cathair Mor, written around the 2nd century A.D., included 50 yew barrels to be left to his son, Daire Barach. To his other son, Mogcorf, he left 100 yew barrels (MacManus 1944). The Celtic legend of Eochardh Airemh relates the yew as the most powerful and sacred of Ireland. These finds relate the importance of yew in early Celtic society. In the 6th century A.D. St. Brendan was using the Ogham alphabet. This system is thought to have originated no earlier than the 5th century (MacAnTsaoir 1999). Ogham is based on the Roman alphabet and the date of the earliest Ogham stone in Ireland (4th century) coincides with the arrival of Christianity though it is still considered the Gaelic alphabet. This alphabet consists of 13 consonants and 5 vowels. Each vowel (A, E, I, O and U) represented a plant (fir, poplar, yew, gorse and heather respectively). The gorse and poplar represented spring and autumn equinox respectively, heather the summer solstice, and the fir or palm and the yew shared the winter solstice, signifying birth and death.

PAGE 30

18 Celtic spirituality is thought to have commingled with Christianity until the Norman invasions of the 12th century. This commingling is evident in the Book of Kells (produced early in the 8th century), which combined the stately letters of the Greek and Roman alphabets with the talismanic, spellbinding simplicity of Ogham (Cahill 1995). It is another 8 th century text Bretha Comaithchesa, or judgements of the neighborhood that contains the most information on trees. OSullivan (1993) dates this text to the 7 th century. Twenty-eight trees are discussed and divided into four classes of seven based on their economic worth. According to Kelly (1999) the airig fedo class is the lords of the wood and refers to oak, hazel, holly, yew, ash, pine, and wild apple. Any offense against such a lord of the wood resulted in a fine of two milk cows and a three-year-old heifer. That was just the base fine. The rest of the fine was determined by the nature of the offense. If a branch was cut, the punishment was to pay the base fine plus a yearling heifer. If a branch was cut below a fork (this may mean a bigger branch), the punishment was to pay the base fine plus a two-year-old heifer. If the tree was cut at the base, another milk cow was added to the fine. The second category of trees was the aithig fedo or commoners of the wood which are alder, willow, hawthorn, rowan, birch, elm, and wild cherry. The penalty for damaging these trees was one milk cow. If the tree was killed, two milk cows. The third class was the fodla fedo; blackthorn, elder, spindle, whitebeam, strawberry tree, aspen, and juniper. The fourth class was the losa fedo; bracken fern, bog-myrtle, gorse, bramble, heather, broom, and the wild rose. Scottish laws, the Leges Forestarum of the 12-13 th centuries, also included such fines for damaging the trees of others. The Welsh laws of the 13-14 th centuries, Llyfr Blegwyrd,

PAGE 31

19 placed a specific monetary fine on yew trees. A woodland yew was worth 15 pence and a churchyard yew was worth one pound, a heavy fine for the time. Note oak, ash, and holly are not represented in the Ogham vowels. Of all the nobles yew was the only one carried into the Gaelic alphabet. Kelly (1999) notes two 9 th century dialogues that document the significance of yew to this culture. The story of Mad Sweeney is a dialogue between himself and St. Moling where Sweeney defends the beauty of a leaf of his yew tree. The teachings of Cormac comment on the long lived nature of the yew tree (which Cormac he is referring to is unknown, King Cormac lived in the 3 rd century and according to the Annals of the Four Masters died because he believed in God over Druidism). The yews cultural importance and presence during the early Christian era can be verified in archaeological evidence. Two early medieval yew horns were found, one in Co. Fermanagh and another in Co. Mayo (Waterman 1969), as well as a late medieval yew casket in Co. Clare (Rynne 1971). One would think this reverence would serve to protect the culturally important trees but in fact, made the trees objects of retaliation during internecine strife. The crowning insult which could be inflicted on an enemy was the desecration of the sacred tree or trees at the inauguration place of his kings (Lucas 1963). The AFM records the burning of 14 religious places between the years 1162 and 1164. There are two specific yew references within the entry for 1162: The monastery of the monks at Iubhar-Chinntrechta was burned, with all its furniture and books, and also the yew tree which Patrick himself had planted and Imleach-Iubhair, with its church, was burned (ucc.ie/celt/publishd.html). Both places are etymologically connected with the yew. The first burning refers to Newry, Co. Down, the second refers to the monastery at Emly, Co. Tipperary (Murray

PAGE 32

20 2001). It is to be noted that both places were very likely named for the sacred yew present at the site (as was Iubhar Arnun burned in the year 1014). The AFM records another yew burning in 1077 which occurred at Gleann Uiseann (Killeshin, Co. Carlow)(Lucas 1963). Other historical yews are one of the most venerable in Ireland that of Inchcleraun in Co. Westmeath and the male yew at Muckross Abbey in Co. Kerry which survives this day. A.T. Lucas (1963) wrote an extraordinary 38-page article about the Irish reverence of trees entitled The Sacred Trees of Ireland whereby he systematically covers many aspects of reverence for trees by the ancient Irish culture. He refers to this reverence as a cult and is confident it was a countrywide phenomenon and that the culture believed trees were endowed with supernatural qualities. Lucas identified five main legendary trees of Ireland. One of these, the Eo Rossa in Co. Carlow, was definitely a yew, several others could have been yews but are not positively identified as such. Connellan wrote of the Eo Rossa, the Yew of Ross, in 1860. He mentions a 7 th century riddle that asks: Which are the two trees whose green tops do not fade till they become withered? The answer is the Eo Rossa and the Fidh-Sidheang (the yew and the holly). Connellan (1860) implies that yew and holly were the only evergreens in Ireland at this time. This is questionable as this riddle could have been in regards to one location. He also mentions Dallans poem which describes the quality of the shield of Hugh as durable and made from a religious wood that bore berries. Lucas (1963) mentioned several pieces of literature which mention the yew: One from 1024 which celebrates three famous yew trees in Ireland and one from 1160 which commemorates some remarkable yew tree. Lucas mentions that in all probability

PAGE 33

21 these trees were intimately associated with the church. He makes this comment because Ireland is known to have been densely forested at this point (Harris 1739, Wright 1863, McCracken 1971), so the fact that these occurrences are entered into the Annals may intimate their uniqueness. Christian Reverence of Yew Trees The adaptation of pagan places of veneration (trees and wells) was greatly practiced by Christianity (Neeson 1991). The association of yews with churchyards is mentioned in almost every work on the species. Historically the trees were often older than the church itself, so it is feasible that either a churchyard was picked because of the presence of a yew, or that the yew was planted at an ancient religious site which later became Christian. At first, in brief, the church came to the tree, not the tree to the church. The more this strategy was put into practice, the firmer the association between church and tree grew, until in time, by force of it, the trees came to the churches and the planting of them there was rationalized(Lucas 1963, p34) Neeson (1991) states that yews were frequently used to mark the bounds of sanctuary land and associated with the word fidnemed (sacred grove). In Ireland yew is frequently used as palm on Palm Sunday, which to many Irish speakers is known as Dumhnach an Iuir (Yew Sunday) (Vickery 1995). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church has an entry for Yew Sunday whereby it is defined as A medieval name for Palm Sunday so called because branches of yew were carried in the liturgical procession (Cross 1997). Chandler (1992) assembled fancies about the yews association with churchyards: Yew thrived on corpses which made it ready to make an excellent bow (yew wood was used for longbow material)

PAGE 34

22 Yew trees were needed in each town for bow-making so a churchyard was a safe place The presence of yew would cause owners to keep their cattle off of the consecrated land (the yew can be poisonous to cattle) Yew wards off evil spirits, as the heartwood is red and the sapwood white, the colors used to symbolize the body and blood of Christ And finally, the more popularly accepted theory: Druids had a temple on the land and Christians built upon the site. This list does not contain the idea that yew was carried in funeral processions and thus a churchyard yew would be a good source. In Old England yew was gathered, to deck the house where a body lay awaiting burial (Rogers 1935). The Yew is considered to be the most potent tree for protection against evil, a means of connecting to your ancestors, a bringer of dreams and otherworld journeys and a symbol of the old magic (whitedragon.org.uk/articles/yew.htm). Trees have always been used as symbols, their roots and trunks symbols of strength, their fruits and flowers symbols of life. The tree of life is mentioned 8 times in the Bible (Ge 2:9 and 3:24, Pr 3:18 and 11:30, Rev 2:7, 22:2, 22:14, and 22:19). Klein (1987) mentions that the yew has served as a tree of life. Chetan and Brueton (1994) provide a very convincing argument that the tree worshipped by Germanic tribes, Yggdrasil, was a yew. Central to the mythical world was the tree Yggdrasil, which provided a framework or scaffold for the cosmos and a ladder between the sky, earth and underworld (Gibson and Simpson 1998). Recent scholars translate Yggdrasil to yew pillar appropriate for the evergreen support of the world (Gibson and Simpson 1998). The Yew and Craftsmanship in Northwestern Europe The Sutton Hoo burial ship in Suffolk, England dates to the 7 th century. It is a funeral ship thought to be dragged a third of a mile from a nearby river, to be part of a

PAGE 35

23 traditional pagan ritual mound for King Raedwald of the Wuffing Dynasty. A yew bucket was found on the site thought to be for Raedwalds own use (Joachim 1986). The history of such a bucket is revealed in Vidals (1976) research at Haute Garonne, France. A tripod bucket made of yew staves dating between 35 and 10 BC was found in a funerary shaft. Vidal states that 29 similar finds have been made in Britain, France, Germany, and Luxembourg. They were probably used for diluting wine and continued to be made during the Roman period in Britain, becoming widespread once more during 4 th -6 th centuries AD (Vidal 1976). Ancient yew artifacts are common. A yew wooden mallet was found in Somerset, England and dated to the mid-3 rd millennium BC (Coles and Hibbert 1972). The yew thrusting spear found in Essex in 1911 stratigraphically belongs to the Hoxnian Interglacial from 200,000 years ago (Oakley et al. 1977). The yew has been used as a material for indoor and outdoor utensils for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years. The Antiques Road Show television program (2002) displayed a valuable antique chest with drawers made of solid yew. Historically, the yew has made the most resilient bows for Windsor Chairs (Finelot 2002). In the late 17 th century Thomas Dineley wrote a journal during his travels in Ireland. He wrote of Sir Lawrence Parsons house in Kings County (now County Offaly): such plenty of Ewe-Timber, that of his House the Windows, Staircases, Window Cases, Tables, Chaires, Benches, Stooles are formed therewith. Here is sayd to be the fairest stair-case in Ireland (Shirley 1863 p.272). The Yew in Literature For at least nine centuries before Christ, celebrated and uncelebrated authors alike mentioned the yew in their epic writings; Homer (Iliad) in the 9th century BC, Theophrastus (Inquiry into Plants) in the 4th century BC, Nicander and Pausanius in the

PAGE 36

24 2nd century BC, Caesar (Gallic Wars), Claudius, Dioscurides, Pliny, Plutarch, and Virgil (Georgics and Aenid) in the 1st century BC (Dallimore 1908; Brimble 1946; Srodon 1975; Keen 1956; Hartzell 1991). In the first 14 or 15 centuries A.D. the tree retained its importance in literature. Richard the Lionheart, Saxon King Harold, and William the Conqueror all met their demise by an arrow shot from a yew wood bow (Hartzell 1991). In epic poems and ballads throughout history, the yew was revered for its prized wood in the form of bows. The word yeoman is a derivation of yew-man (man carrying yew bow), a term often used during the height of archery, especially during the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) when Henry V prepared tens of thousands of yeomen for battle. Geoffrey Chaucers Death of Robin Hood (14 th century) closes with: And set my bright sword at my head Mine arrows at my feet And lay my yew-bow by my side The Columbia Grangers Index to Poetry (Frankovich 1997), The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (Watson 1969), and Hoyts New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations (Roberts 1923) list 15 mentions of yew in literature. The following list is composed from these three sources as well as numerous internet searches: 16th century William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Twelfth Night. Act II. Sc4. Macbeth. Act IV. Sc1. Romeo and Juliet.Act V. Sc3. Edmund Spencer (1552-1599): Faerie Queene. Bk 1. Canto 1. St 8. 17th century Robert Herrick (1591-1674): To the Yew and Cypress to Grace His Funeral 18th century Robert Blair (1699-1746): The Grave

PAGE 37

25 Thomas Gray (1716-1771): Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 19th century George Henry Boker (1823-1890): The Leaden Eyelids of Wan Twilight Close Thomas Campbell (1777-1844): Theodric: a Domestic Tale, and other Poems John Keats (1795-1821): Ode on Melancholy Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936): A Tree Song Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). Old Yew which Graspest the Stones Francis Thompson (1859-1907): A Fallen Yew Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): The Importance of Being Earnest The Decay of Lying The Canterville Ghost The Dole of the King's Daughter Panthea William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Yew-Trees Wordsworths composition Yew-Trees expressed his awe of the magnificent species: There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale, Which to this day stands single, in the midst Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore; Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands Of Unfraville or Percy ere they marched To Scotlands heaths; or those that crossed the sea And drew their sounding bows at Azincour, Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers. Of vast circumference and gloom profound This solitary Tree! A living thing Produced too slowly ever to decay; Of form and aspect too magnificent To be destroyed. Yew Longbows From the later Stone Age in central Europe, at sites in Switzerland and Germany, more than 20 bows or fragments of bows have been foundAll of the bows are of yew wood (Hardy 1976). Of the woods for self-bows, yew beyond all question carries off

PAGE 38

26 the palm (Ford 1887). Gordon (1939) later agreed, yew at its best is the monarch of bow woods. Hardy (1976) claims the earliest yew longbow in England is from Meare Heath in Somerset, it dated to 2,690 BC, another found at Ashcott Heath dated to 2,665 BC, and another at Edington Burtle dated to 1,320 BC (it is uncertain how these bows were dated). The yew longbow obviously transcended time as Germanic longbows were used against the Romans at the Rhine in 354 A.D. (Hardy 1976). Longbows were also used in England at the Battle of Maldon in 991 and the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Bayeux Tapestry (also known as Matildas Tapestry), a 230+ foot long embroidered pictorial description of the Battle of Hastings, shows the yeomen with their bows. The first major land battle of the Hundred Years War at Crecy in 1346 proved the longbow to be the ultimate fighting weapon. The Genoese crossbowmen were outshot by the English longbows and the pattern was set for the rest of the day: the French cavalry were committed piecemeal in fruitless charges against strong English positions, losing perhaps 10,000 men in the course of the fighting. After almost a millennium in which cavalry had dominated the field of battle, the infantrymen, and particularly the longbowmen, now ruled supreme. (Nicolle 2000) In 1415 the English monarchy led 8,000 archers once more into France to the Battle of Agincourt and again the yew longbow proved an invincible adversary. The King who won this war, Henry V, called his archers his yew hedge (Hardy 1976). Gordon (1939) states it was illegal to grow yew in France for 100 years as a result of the English conquests. Rumor has it that the gesture of giving someone the finger (fingers held slightly differently in English and American context) originally comes from archers flaunting to enemies that they still had these fingers and thus could shoot their longbow. This rumor

PAGE 39

27 could have some substance as Hardy (1976) states the Salic Laws or Lex Salica of King Clovis of the Franks (5 th century) included a fine for cutting off anyones bow drawing fingers. In 1997 National Public Radio actually had a program discussing the fact that at Agincourt the French had threatened to cut off the fingers of the English longbowmen. When the English won, they waved their fingers at the French in defiance. The act of drawing the longbow was called plucking yew hence, the two gestures, one physical and one verbal, ended up together. This is actually published in a website by the Saint Andrews Noble Order of Royal Scots-Irish entitled History of Giving the Finger (st-andrewsscots.org/mainhall/mharticle6.html). Roger Aschams Toxophilus (1545) is by far the seminal work on archery. Likely quoted in every article and book on historical archery, this work was presented to King Henry VIII in 1545 and is the first known academic work written in English. It is written in dialogue between a lover of the bow and a lover of learning. The 16 th century saw the tools of war transform from bows to firearms and archery became a sport. The following centuries saw the formation of archer societies. In 1676 the Royal Company of Archers of Scotland was founded. In 1814 the Irvine Toxophiles archery society was founded. In 1951 the British Longbow Society was founded. The three controlling bodies of the sport today are the Grand National Archery Society, the English Field Archery Association, and the National Field Archery Society (members of these societies proved extremely helpful in answering questions about the yew in Ireland). The extensive use of yew bows in the centuries of war must have been accompanied by a major decline in yew populations. Violotis (1986) found evidence that 10,000 Yew longbows each year for 60 years were exported from Nuremberg beginning

PAGE 40

28 in 1512. Violotis (1986) then goes on to mention that export reached 500,000 to 600,000 bows over the period of 60 years. Czartoryski (1975) says that Moewes (1926) collected the most detailed data about the export of yew from Germany and that he estimated exports of yew by Nuremberg in 1531-1560 as amounting to 500-600,000 trees. Seeing that the numbers are exactly the same, 500,000-600,000 bows would be more feasible. Loudon (1844) verifies this time of decline: In the days of archery the yew was the principal wood used for the bow in Britain, and in the reign of Henry VIII of England (1491-1547), the demand was so great that it had to be imported from the continent of Europe into England Historical law also gives some idea as to the extensive demand of yew staves. William Lion Heart put forth an Act in the 12 th century for all men to 60 to have a longbow (Buchanan 1979). The Assize of Arms of 1181 was renewed by Henry III in 1252 stating that the townsmen must have bows in case they are needed in the army (Hardy 1976). Edward I (who Hardy calls the father of the military longbow) followed his fathers lead in terms of acknowledging the importance of the skilled archer, and in 1284 obtained control of Wales and the famous Welsh archers. The following two 15th century laws were documented by Burke in 1958: James I signed a law to Scottish parliament that all men after the age of 12 should be archers. Edward the IV demanded that every Englishman and Irishman must have a yew, wych, hazel, or ash bow of his own. The 13-15 th centuries surely marked the decimation of many a yew population. It is uncertain where all the wood came from. Ford (1887) says the best yew is from Spain or Italy but that occasionally English staves can be sufficient for bow-making. But Hardy (1976) says that English yew is good for bow-making, the further north the better;

PAGE 41

29 Scottish therefore is apt to be better Scandinavian better than Scottish. In the Middle Ages, import duties on cargos of wine into England were overlooked if bow staves were included in the shipment (Gordon 1939). The cessation of import duties sounds to me as an act of desperation. Perhaps at this point, the local supply was exhausted. A search of the Patent Rolls for Edward IIIs reign revealed an appointment in 1345 of two men to fell yew trees for bow making in Counties Kent, Berks, and Oxford. Hardy (1976) found Edward IV had said the scarcity of bowstaves is so bad that archery is almost lost. Milner (1992) states that Richard III decreed a general planting of yew and the importation of foreign yew staves. Searches at the British Library, and chasing rumors of yew-wood management in Scotland, revealed no substantial evidence of yew woods being grown and/or managed for the longbow cause (this is discussed further in chapter 5). The Yew in Heraldry A glossary of heraldic terminology has an entry for yew which reads; The yew is considered to be emblematic of death but the ancient Egyptians saw these evergreens as a symbol of hope and eternal life (Heraldic Artists 1980). A website on the subject also records yew under some of the more common heraldic symbols as a symbol of death and eternal life thereafter (oshel.com/symbols.htm). Micheal O Comain, a consulting herald at the Genealogical Office in Dublin, could not identify any Coats containing yew (Co. Dublin, personal communication, January 10 th 2002). Katey Lumston, a heraldic painter at the same location, was commissioned to paint a Coat of Arms for the Western Health Board that included a yew tree. Extensive searches revealed six occurrences of yew used in heraldry; the one for the Health Board, the Crest of the Seamark family (freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~heraldry/ page_coa.html#%20Home), the Coat of Arms for the Broadwood, Brandwood, and Morse families (Parker 1894), and the Civic Seal of

PAGE 42

30 the Lordship of Newry (located in Co. Down, Ireland), having a yew tree on either side of an ecclesiastical figure. Fox-Davies (1894) declared the trees on the Seal might actually be poplar trees. Though it is difficult to tell by the shape of the trees (Figure 2-2), it is more likely that they are yews as the Gaelic translation of Newry is Iubhar-Chinntrechta which translates to yew at the head of the strand (Room 1986). The town is also known for the previously mentioned 12 th century event where an ancient revered yew was purposely destroyed by fire. The Yew in Art Various heraldic artists have depicted the yew. Its wood, as longbow, is also seen in many depictions of famous battles. More recently, Vincent Van Gogh painted the Trunk of an old yew tree in 1888. Further research into the art world would likely result in the identification of additional usage of the icon. Summary The oldest wooden implement discovered is made of yew. Archaeological evidence proves that Irish inhabitants utilized the yew for literally hundreds of thousands of years. Many places in Europe are named after an association with the tree. Toponymic analysis, using a combination of 19th century census information, Irish place-name texts, and various versions of OS maps, revealed over 160 towns in Ireland named after the tree. The distribution of these towns shows no obvious patterns but reveals the tree as a noteworthy cultural element. The Celts are likely the group responsible for the majority of these town names. The culture revered the tree, incorporating it into their alphabet and outwardly protecting it in their law texts. Sacred yews are discussed in the ancient annals of Ireland and have been associated with religious ground for thousands of years. This exceptional reverence resulted in especially revered yews being the object of retaliation

PAGE 43

31 during internecine conflict. One particularly yew tree, the Eo Rossa, was one of the five main legendary trees of Ireland. This reverence amalgamated with Christian views when they were imposed upon the people of Ireland in the first half of the first millennium A.D. The trees association with churchyards is legendary, as it is considered a protector of evil, a symbol of magic. It has been suggested that the original tree of life concept was derived from a yew. The yew was not only utilized for spiritual worship. Its wood has been used, among other things, to make barrels, boats, buckets, mallets, furniture, bowls, spears and bows. The yew was a common object in early literature. It was mentioned by numerous authors including Homer, Pliny, and Virgil. It was later mentioned by famous authors such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Kipling, and Tennyson. Its role as the best material for longbows likely induced many of these mentions. Yew longbows are known from the 3rd millennium BC. They were later used to win wars at Hastings, Crecy, and Agincourt. The first known academic work in English was a book on archery. Yew longbows continue to be prized by the members of contemporary archery societies. The mid 1st millennium usage of yews for this purpose likely resulted in its near extermination. The symbolism of yew continued in heraldry as a symbol of death and eternal life. The yew is represented in 6 heraldic symbols. The yew has been depicted by various artists because of its association with the longbow and its symbolism in heraldry and religion. It was also depicted by Van Gogh in 1888. Reverence and utilization of such a species does not prove abundance. In fact, in many cases a species may be revered for its scarcity. The following chapter explores the past abundance of yew on the Irish landscape through paleobotanical and archival research.

PAGE 44

32 N Yew Towns Distribution of Yew Toponyms in Ireland Figure 2-1. Locations of towns named after the yew tree in Ireland

PAGE 45

33 Table 2-1. Derivations of yew towns obtained from Flanagan (1194), Joyce (1990), Lewis (1837), Room (1986), Shirley (1863), and Windele (1910). English Irish Translation Aghadoe Achadh-da-eo Field of two yew Aghilly Eochaill Yew wood Aghinure ?-iubhair ? of yew Ahanure ?-iubhair Ford of yew Altinure (2) Alt-an-iubhair Glen side of yew Ardnanure ?-na-iubhair Height of the yew Aughall Eochaill Yew wood Aughil Eochaill Yew wood Aughils Eochaill Yew wood Aughnanure Achadh-na-niubhar Field of yew Ballinure (8) Baile-an-iubhair Town of yew Ballynure (5) Baile-an-iubhair Town of yew Carranure ?-iubhair ? of yew Clashanure ?-iubhair ? of yew Clonoe Cluain Eo Meadow of yew Clonoghil (4) Cluain-eochaill Meadow of yew wood Cloonoghill Cluain-eochaill Meadow of yew wood Cornanure ?-iubhair ? of yew Crockanure Cnoc-an-iubhair Hill of yew Donohill (fortress?)-eochaill Fortress of yew wood Drumanure (6) (ridge?)-iubhair Ridge of yew Ellinure ?-an-iubhar ? of yew Emly Imleach-iubhair ? of yew Eochaill Eochaill Yew wood Finure ?-iubhair ? of yew Glanworth Gleann-iubhair Glen of yew Glenoe Gleann Eo Glen of yew Gortanure (4) Gort-an-iubhair Field of yew Gortinure (4) Gort-an-iubhair Field of yew Killenure Cill-an-iubhair Church of yew Killinure (13) Cill-an-iubhair Church of yew Killoe (2) Cill-eo Church of yew Killure (7) Cill-iubhair Church of yew Kinure Ceann-iubhair Head of yew Knockanure (3) Cnoc-an-iubhair Hill of yew

PAGE 46

34 Table 2-1. Continued English Irish Translation Lisdillure ?-iubhair ? of yew Loughanure Loch-an-iubhair Lake of yew Mayo (6) Magh-eo Plain of yew Moynoe Magh-neo Plain of a yew Moynure (3) Magh-iubhair Plain of yew Newrath (9) An-Iurach Yew land Newry (4) Iubhar-Chinntrechta Yew at head of strand Nure (7) Iubhar Yew at head of strand Oghil (9) Eochaill Yew wood Oghill (11) Eochaill Yew wood Oghillees Eochaill-? Yew wood ? Oghillicartan Eochaill-? Yew wood ? Oghilly Eochaill-? Yew wood ? Oghly Island Eochaill Yew wood island Okyle Eochaill Yew wood Rathnure (2) (fort)-iubhair Fort of yew Rush (2) Ros-eo Peninsula of yew Sruhanure ?-iubhair ? of yew Terenure Tir-an-iubhair Land of the yew Tinure Tigh na Iuir ? of yew Tullynure (3) Tulach-an-iubhair Hill of yew Ture (4) Iubhar Yew Uragh (4) Iubhrach Yew land Uregare Iubhar-ghearr Short yew Virginia Achadh an Iuir Field of Yew Wood of O Eochaill Yew wood Yewer Iubhar Yew tree Youghal (2) Eochaill Yew wood

PAGE 47

35 Figure 2-2. Seal of the Lordship of Newry with yews on either side of ecclesiastical figure. Reproduction by author.

PAGE 48

CHAPTER 3 THE YEW ON THE PREHISTORIC AND HISTORIC LANDSCAPE Introduction to the Yew in Palynological Analyses In many cases cultural geographers no longer need to be restricted by the information found in the current landscape and the amount of historical literature available. Paleoecological methods can be used as tool to reconstruct historical landscapes. Paleoecology studies the interactions of ancient and prehistoric organisms with their environment. Palynology is the study of pollen, including morphology, physiology, biochemistry, and spatial and temporal distribution. Pollen is produced and released from flowers, transported by wind, insects, and water, and deposited on the landscape. When the deposition occurs year after year on such substrates as a woodland floor, a bog, a lake, or another similar sediment trap, a historical vegetation chronology is produced in the ground. Assemblages of these microfossils (pollen) occur as the result of an individual species pollen dispersal efficiency, productivity, and density in the local and regional environment during any particular time period. Applications of palynology are useful in studying climatic history and following the course of mans influence upon his environment (Moore and Webb 1978). By using palynological methods cultural geographers can lengthen the time period covered in their research. A progressive approach can therefore begin in prehistory, adding clues from ancient annals and historical literature as Christian times commence. This research began when a contradiction in literature (both palynological and cultural forest history) was identified regarding the abundance of yew in the Holocene 36

PAGE 49

37 (the last 12,000 years). MacCracken (1971) states that in Ireland the yew did not form large stands but was fairly common as an occasional tree. Nelson and Walsh (1993) state the yew was never a dominant tree in the (Irish) landscape during the post glacial period. Tittensor (1980) claims, in reference to the entire Holocene, that yew was widespread but uncommon. On the contrary, Neeson (1991) and Huntley and Webb (1988) claim it to be formerly abundant. Srodon (1975) states that during the Holocene yews often formed large concentrations. Oliver Rackham (1980), comments in his often cited book on ancient woodland in England, that during the Bronze Age, pine and yew outnumbered oak. Books and poems descriptive of historic England and Ireland insinuate that the tree formed dark and mysterious forests suggesting that there must have been more than an occasional tree. Pollen analysis should be able to clear up the confusion; after all, there is no doubt that the male yew produces tremendous amounts of pollen. In March 1999, I witnessed a tree in Alderley Edge (Cheshire, England) that produced such copious pollen that it appeared gold in color. Upon bumping into a branch I was consumed in a cloud and my shirt turned from white to yellow. After this experience, it was easy to realize Dallimores (1908) comment: Pollen is borne in such quantities as to discolour the ground beneath the trees when it is ripe, whilst on a windy day it leaves the trees in clouds. A similar statement was made by Briggs (1936): In February and early March some of the yews change from a deep blue-green to a warm tawny colour, as if they had been powdered over with gold dust. After reading about and experiencing the pollen production potential, it was disturbing that the tree was not a part of early pollen analysis in England and Ireland. In

PAGE 50

38 fact, prior to 1987, palynological analyses in Ireland did not include yew. The answer was found in Godwins (1934) paper on the problems and potentialities of pollen analysis: Pollen of Populus, Taxus, Juniperus and members of the Rosaceae is easily destroyed, but fortunately that of all the forest dominants is relatively well preserved. This should immediately bring a question to mind, if they are easily destroyed then how do we know they werent at one time a forest dominant? Again in 1940, Godwin made a similar statement: Salix, Populus, Acer, Taxus and other generathe pollen of these genera is not preserved The above question was neatly answered in An Atlas of Past and Present Pollen Maps for Europe: 0-13,000 years ago (Huntley and Birks, 1983): The scarcity of sites in which yew pollen is recorded probably reflects the problems of identification of this pollen type rather than a true rarity of occurrence. Palynological researchers now regard it as an under-recorded species. Edwards and Warren (1985) report: Yew, an underrecorded species because its pollen has only recently been recognised, appears to have been frequent in the later postglacialIts ecological role is not yet understood, but it may be suspected that future pollen analysis will prove it to have been an abundant tree right up to the modern times, as its high frequency of place names suggests. Michael OConnell confirmed yew pollen went unrecognised in a lot of the earlier pollen counts (University College Galway, Co. Galway, personal communication, January 19 th 1999). Mitchell and Ryan (1998) stated its pollen is relatively fragile and difficult to recognise in fossil form and was overlooked for a long time. This difficulty of recognition is due to the tendency of the pollen grains to collapse during pollen concentration methods. Figures 3-1 and 3-2 show pollen straight from a tree and contorted yew pollen after pollen concentration methods.

PAGE 51

39 Thus the question arose: Was the yew a common element on the prehistoric and historic Irish landscape? To answer this question, a regional approach was initially taken by compiling and researching Irelands palynological and historical records. New palynological research was then initiated in the parish of Youghal, Co. Cork (which has etymological associations with the tree and fossilized yew within a submerged peat bed on its coast). It was assumed that localized research would reveal a clearer view of the complexities involved in the interpretation of the progress of the yew as a landscape element. Therefore, this chapter is divided into two main sections. The first is a regional (Ireland) look at palynological evidence that reveals the prehistoric presence of yew. The section then leads into historical accounts of political and economical activity that would influence yew populations. The second section is a local (Youghal) look at palynological evidence that reveals the prehistoric presence of yew followed by historical accounts of the physical environment and political and economical activity that influenced Youghal specifically and thus the areas yew population. Section 1: The Prehistoric and Historic Abundance of Yew in Ireland and the Political and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual Decline This account begins by reporting finds of yew (Taxus) microfossils in Pleistocene (1.8 million 12,000 years ago) sediments and progresses to report finds in the relatively recent geologic period, the Holocene (the last 12,000 years). Taxus pollen has been identified in Europes Cromerian Interglacial (750,000-350,000 years ago) and Hoxnian Interglacial (250,000-200,000 years ago). Godwin (1956) and Huntley and Webb (1988) report that the tree was part of the European forests since the Cromerian. R.G. West (1962) wrote of a 19 th century palynologist that found yew seeds at Hoxne (Suffolk, England), the type site for the Hoxnian Interglacial (a type site is the place where relics

PAGE 52

40 characteristic of a particular cultural and/or paleoecological period have first been found in situ, customarily adopted as the name of that period). Dowling et al (1998) recently verified the abundance of Taxus during these ancient Interglacials in Cork Harbour, Ireland. In fact, Dowling et al. (1998) found Taxus to be present in all 9 Gortian Warm Stage (an Irish interglacial that extended from 425,000 to 300,000 years ago) sites they reviewed. The fact that the yew was a significant component of the forest during the Gortian in 7 of the 9 locations suggests that the climate was moist and mild during this period. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) mention the presence of yew fruits in Irelands latter Aghnadarraghian Complex of 65,000 to 35,000 years ago. The yews sensitivity to frost and drought make it an excellent climate indicator, which promotes an understanding of the type of climate prehistoric cultures experienced. The paleoecology of the Holocene tends to be a bit easier to reconstruct. Radiocarbon dating has enabled chronologies for significant events in many parts of Ireland and given researchers major clues as to the arrival and activity of plants and animals (including humans). Many believe that when the ice of the Devensian Glacier retreated, about 12,000 years ago, a land bridge linking Ireland to Great Britain remained for some time (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This could have greatly aided in the postglacial migration of floral and faunal species from the Isles and the continent. Postglacial colonization could also have been due to, or included; refuges, causal introductions, and intentional human introductions. Because this study encompasses over 5,000 years, it is appropriate to include a general overview of the northwestern European climate, the particulars of which affected human activity, the knowledge of which was obtained by palynological research. Godwin

PAGE 53

41 (1940) was the first to analyze a threefold climate division of the postglacial: increasing warmth, maximum warmth, and decreasing warmth. Godwin formulated a scheme of pollen zonation for Britain, since modified, expanded and placed in regional contexts (Rackham, 1980; OConnell et al. 1988). Where Godwin (1940) does not include dates with his zones, Rackhams (1980) analysis of Britain includes radiocarbon chronology as dates b.c. The following zonation sequence follows Godwin (1940) and Rackham (1980). The associated dates provide a general guideline, but are of course, estimates. Zones I-III are collectively termed the Late-glacial and encompass 10,000 to 8,300 b.c. During this time there were land bridges between Great Britain and the mainland as well as Great Britain and Ireland. Temporary cold snaps did not impede the colonization of birch and aspen, and a small amount of pine. Zone IV, the Pre-Boreal, extended from 8,300 to 7,600 b.c. (this is where Godwin began his analysis). This zone marks a period of rapid warming and increasing forests. The main colonizers were birch, pine, and hazel. Zone V, the Early Boreal (7,600 to 7,000 b.c.), shows the northward movement of pine and the increase of hazel southwards, both at the expense of birch. It is this period that records the arrival of oak, elm, and lime (Tilia). Zone VI, the Mid to Late Boreal (7,000 to 5,500 b.c) marks the age of hazel. Pine and oak became common in Ireland and Great Britain. Ireland saw a large increase of elm and southern England saw the increase of lime. Birch became uncommon in England and Ireland. Godwin separates this time into three subzones; a. the elm and hazel increase, b. oak equaling elm and c. lime and alder increase and hazel begins to decline. At the end of this period a rise in sea level had cut off first Ireland and then Great Britain (Rackham 1980). Zone VII marks the beginning of man as influential in regards to vegetation change, though both Rackham (1980) and Behre (1988) state that Mesolithic clearing wasnt sufficient to make too much of an impression on the woodlands. According to Godwin, there was a large replacement of pine and birch by alder, and an oak and elm dominance. Rackham calls the period of 5,500 to 3,100 b.c. Zone VIIa, the Atlantic or the fully-developed wildwood. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) refer to the period of around 4,550 b.c. as the postglacial climatic optimum, where average temperatures in July were 1-2 degrees C warmer than today. According to Rackham this period experienced a stable climate where climax communities could develop. Pine and birch had disappeared except for the highest areas of Scotland and Ireland, hazel and elm dominated most of Ireland with oak and hazel woods dominating the west. Zone VIIb (3,100 to 800 b.c), or the Neolithic and Bronze

PAGE 54

42 age, is characterized by a sudden decline in elm throughout northwestern Europe. This Sub-Boreal period marks the invasion of Neolithic settlers. Zone VIII (800 b.c. to 40 a.d.), the Sub-Atlantic is marked by the late Bronze and Iron Ages. Rackham suggests the onset of a wetter climate to explain the recurrence of peat and blanket bogs extending into the forests. According to Godwin birch began to return and climate change induced in Great Britain equivalent but not identical changes in forest composition because of regionalism. The following sections discuss evidence for the yews Holocene presence in Ireland and describe the cultural and biophysical environment that it experienced. This general picture will enable a better understanding of the site-specific research in County Cork. The section titles include both archaeological and palynological idioms for the time periods. Previous palynological investigations are compiled to form a summary (a map of these locations is provided in Figure 3-3). A section of a conventional pollen diagram is included here for the reader to better understand the following interpretations (Figure 3-4). The Early Postglacial/Boreal and Mesolithic Culture The postglacial climatic optimum was identified in Scotland by T.F. Jamieson during his research in the second half of the 19 th century (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Robert Praeger also identified this warm period in Ireland later in the same century (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Evidence from Antarctic ice cores indicates a climatic optimum occurred during the early Holocene from 11,000-9000 BP (antcrc.utas.edu.au)(BP stands for Before Present indicating the number of years before 1950 A.D.). It now appears that the climatic optimum discovered by Jamieson and Praeger occurred in Ireland between 7000-6000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). The first evidence of humans in Ireland is c. 9000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998), unusually late for northwestern Europe. The period of 7000-5900 BP is considered the

PAGE 55

43 climax phase in Ireland in terms of woodland development (Mitchell 1998). This time of woodland climax followed a long period of soil development, as the ice cover was extensive in Ireland at 17,000 BP. Rackham (1980) dates woodland climax in England earlier, and extending longer at 7500-5100 BP. Bennett (1989) dates it 5000 BP. In any event, the climax phase is evident in several pollen diagrams by the high concentrations of major tree taxa around this time period. In Co. Donegal, at Lough Mullaghlahan and Altar Lough, in Northern Ireland, a climax phase of woodland is evident between 9000-6000 BP (Fossitt 1994). Taxus is present at both of these sites, more so at Altar Lough, but it never becomes a significant forest component during this period. Maldonados (2002) analysis at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow shows a similar story where hazel, oak, elm, and pine are prevalent, with alder appearing later in the period. There is no Taxus present at Maldonados site during this phase. At Norfolk, England, Keith Bennett recorded a remarkably similar sequence (1986). This climax phase substantiates Behres (1988) conclusion that human disturbance is thought to be only very local during the Mesolithic. The Atlantic Period and Neolithic Culture Coxon and OConnell (1994) note an increase of yew around 6000 BP on Inishbofin in Co.Galway. This was also noted at Lake Namackanbeg, also in Co.Galway (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). At Killarney, Co. Kerry, Mitchell (1990) noted an increase of yew at 5615 +/40 BP. These increases are early in comparison to other pollen diagrams. The climate was changing at this time from a continental climate, hence the term Boreal, to a more maritime climate known as the Atlantic period. The Ulmus (elm) decline, a well known postglacial paleoecological event, occurred Europe-wide during the 6th millennium BP. Mitchell (1990) dates the decline at 5615 +/

PAGE 56

44 40 BP at Killarney National Park. This date, he comments, is slightly older than the range of dates (5100-5300 years BP) for the elm decline recorded in the British Isles. The decline occurred with such synchroneity that an anthropogenic cause is arguable (Hirons and Edwards 1986). Birks (1999) associates the decline with disease or disease plus human impact. Chappellaz et al. (1993) associate it with an episode of cold and arid conditions. If the latter is correct, yew populations would also decrease due to their sensitivity to frost and drought and their overall maritime preference. At Killarney, as previously mentioned, yew increased at 5615+/-40 BP. This is associated with a decline in elm, which does not support Chappellazs theory. The onset of the Atlantic period (and its associated maritime conditions) and perhaps the abatement of Chappellazs cold spell, probably explain the numerous yew pollen increases over the next few thousand years. Many diagrams reveal a significant increase of yew during the second half of the Holocene but not until about a thousand years after those noted above. The Atlantic period is noted for the replacement of pine and birch by oak, alder, and elm. This period should also be known for a sharp rise in yew at about 4500 BP. This is especially evident in Glendalough in Co. Wicklow (Maldonado 2002) and Lough Nabraddan and Altar Lough in Co. Donegal (Fossitt 1994). Mitchell (1988) published a continuous record of yew back to 4850 +/-120 BP in Killarney. OConnell et al (1988) identified it at 3940 +/-60 BP in Connemara. Molloy and OConnell (1991) noted it at the same time at another Connemara location. The most significant find lately is on the Aran Islands, Co. Galway where it was the dominant species at 4200 BP (OConnell 2001).

PAGE 57

45 The ancient cultures of Ireland left evidence of their presence in the form of four types of Megalithic tombs, tumuli, standing stones, mounds, souterrains, and cairns. Megalithic tombs are strongly associated with Neolithic culture. Radiocarbon dating of court tombs, the earliest type, suggest that they were in use during the 6 th millennium BP. Ireland is well known for portal tombs which have a large capstone situated on smaller upright stones. The architecture of which is quite spectacular (Figure 3-5). Passage tombs are also known from the same millennium. Wedge tombs were prevalent in the later Neolithic. Other Neolithic structures have been found in Counties Antrim, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, and Tyrone (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Irish Neolithic artifacts include bowls, polished stone axes, and various flint objects. As previously mentioned, a yew bow fragment found in Co. Fermanagh is dated to this period (Glover 1979). The Neolithic seems to be the benchmark for increased human disturbance being noted as intensive c. 4920 +/-45 in Co. Galway (Molloy and OConnell 1991) and elsewhere in Europe c. 5330 BP (Edwards and Whittington 1997). This Neolithic clearance was also noted at G.F. Mitchells renowned Littleton Bog site in Co. Tipperary (1965) as well as in Co. Derry, Co. Kerry, and Co. Sligo (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). It is unique then, that the yew increases during this Atlantic/Neolithic period of intensive woodland clearance. Could the yew have been revered this long ago? Thus leaving the ecological factors at hand (the onset of an appropriate climate and the decline of elm, which created an unoccupied niche under the opened woodland canopy) to play their part in the increase of the species? The bones of later Neolithic cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and dogs were found at Newgrange, Co. Meath. Cattle are a major figure in Irish mythology and this site

PAGE 58

46 confirms their presence early in the islands cultural history (cattle become intertwined in the yews story as we will later see). The presence of the Ceide Fields in Co. Mayo, an extensive Neolithic field system, verifies that these early farmers may have lived in large communities. The Neolithic in Ireland ends sometime around 4500 BP when evidence of mining and metallurgy appears. The Sub-Boreal Period and the Copper and Bronze Ages More Bronze Age gold hoards have been discovered in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe (Walsh 2002). Copper deposits in Cork and Kerry were extensively mined in the Earlier Bronze Age (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Many copper axes and daggers have been found that date to this period. Wedge tombs became prolific during the 4 th millennium BP and are often associated with finds of Bell-Beaker pottery (named for the containers being a bell shape). This Bell-Beaker culture appears to also have been active from Poland to Iberia (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Stone circles and wedge tombs date to this period and both are prevalent in the southwest of Ireland. The later Bronze Age brings a new range of implements, weapons, and structures such as socketed axe-heads and swordshill forts and ring forts (Walsh 2002). The Littleton Bog site, the type site for the current Littletonian warm stage, clearly shows the decline of several tree species and the increase of disturbance species during the Bronze age. Several diagrams (Glandalough (Maldonado 2002), Tralong Bay (Helps 1998), Lough Namackanbeg (OConnell 2001), and Lough Mallughlahan (Fossitt 1994)) show a continuous record of Taxus during this time suggesting that the species suffered little in these locations in terms of human disturbance. In some cases the mere persistence of a species would not necessarily indicate a lack of human disturbance as a species could be managed to simply retain a certain population level. The slow growth of the yew

PAGE 59

47 makes this a virtually impossible scenario. This brings to mind the myths and laws associated with the Celtic culture, which are further explored in the following section. The Sub-Atlantic Period, the Celtic Culture, and the Iron Age Within this section the use of BP dates will be phased out as we soon enter the Christian timescale, appropriately used for discussing the last few millennia. Note again that the year 1950 BP marks the first year of Anno Domini (A.D.). The wetter climate of the Sub-Atlantic period experienced by the Celts enabled the yew to be established in many places in Ireland. A continuous record of yew exists from 2500 BP to beyond 1000 BP at 6 sites; Camillan Wood and Derrycunihy Wood (Mitchell 1988), Glendalough (Maldonado 2002), Lough Corcal and Lough Namackanbeg (OConnell 2001), and Reenadinna Wood (Mitchell 1990). Yew is, at times, a significant forest component but is not represented continually at Altar Lough (Fossitt 1994). The wheel with yew dowels, the boat made of yew, and the yew carved idol were dated to this Sub-Atlantic period (see chapter 2). The Celtic arrival coincides with the introduction of the plough. Frank Mitchell has argued that the advent of the ard-type plough marks the beginning of the period of wholesale forest clearance in Ireland (Nelson and Walsh 1993). During this period the elm again shows a decline, though not as massive as the first. This could be the result of culturally selective deforestation. The Celtic tradition places yew in the Airig fedo category, or a noble of the wood. The elm is placed in the Aithig fedo category, a commoner of the wood. Perhaps the elms lesser categorization assisted this second decline.

PAGE 60

48 The Celts and the Coming of Christianity Forest destruction was intensive and widespread in Co. Sligo in the beginning of the 4th century (Dodson and Bradshaw 1987). This 4th century decline includes elm and alder, both considered commoners, but also includes oak, a noble. Oak shows a fairly sudden and significant decline. The 4th century marks the coming of Christianity to Ireland. Similar results are seen in Connemara, Co. Galway (Molloy and OConnell 1991) where there is not only a decline in the commoners, but 3 nobles (oak, ash, and holly). The pollen section dated 165-485 A.D. is actually called Early Christian impact on vegetation and landscape. The forests of Ireland, however, were not decimated by these early activities. In fact, palynological evidence revealed that numerous places in Ireland were densely forested at the turn of the last millennium. An expansion in woodland is noted at Slish Lake from 1200-600 BP (750-1350 A.D.). The Littleton Bog site revealed a lull in farming that sets in about 1000AD which lasts for a few hundred years. The Glendalough pollen diagram shows stable woodland to about 1400 A.D. (Maldonado 2002). At this point the archives become a helpful addition to paleoecological evidence. Sir James Ware, a famous historian who wrote during the 17 th century said some authors will have it that Ireland was in old times also called by the historians of that country, the woody island (Inis-na-siodhbuidhe) (Harris 1739). Giraldus Cambrensis, a 12 th century world traveler, wrote the Topography of Ireland and the History of the Conquest of Ireland. His texts are invaluable works on Irelands natural history. Within these texts we find verification of Irelands wooded nature: Ireland is a countrywell woodedthere

PAGE 61

49 are in some places very beautiful plains, though of limited extent in comparison with the woodsThe woods abound with wild animalsIn no part of the world are such vast herds of boars and wild pigs to be foundIt produces stags so fat that they lose their speedIreland is the most temperate of all countries (Wright 1863). Giraldus also specifically speaks of the yew: yews, with their bitter sap, are more frequently to be found in this country than in any other I have visited and later states yews with which the woods of the island abound (Wright 1863). His writings were within the Medieval Warm Period (c.1114th centuries) where climate would have been favorable for the yew. Palynological evidence revealed yew to be prevalent at 6 sites beyond 950 A.D., supporting both the concept of this warm period and the evidence provided by Giraldus. This 12 th century traveler gives us a very important clue in terms of the yew: Yet the bows used by this people are not made of horn, or ivory, or yew, but of wild elm; unpolished, rude, and uncouth (Wright 1863). It is virtually impossible that the Irish did not know the quality of yew bows. Could they have revered the tree too much to cut them down for weapons of war? Conellan (1860) quotes the unknown source Mr. Bowman who discusses the yews likely role in the culture: It seems most natural and simple to believe that, being indisputably indigenous, and being, from its perennial verdure, its longevity, and the durability of its wood, at once an emblem and a specimen of immortality, its branches would be employed by our pagan ancestors, on their first arrival here, as the best substitute for the cypress, to deck the graves of the dead and for other sacred purposes. As it is the policy of innovators in religion to avoid unnecessary interference with matters not essential, these, with many other customs of heathen origin, would be retained and engrafted on Christianity on its first introduction. (p154) The Irish tenaciously held on to their traditions in the face of English conquest. Giraldus states in regards to Christianity: The faith having been planted in the island

PAGE 62

50 from the time of St. Patrick it is a wonder that this nation remains to this day so very ignorant of the rudiments of Christianity (Wright 1863). The Changes of the 12 th Century and the Norman Invasion Though Giraldus wrote a fantastic natural history that brings forth images of a beautiful country, 12 th century Ireland was undergoing tremendous physical and cultural change. Continuous waves of religious reformers arrived in Ireland. The Cistercians arrived and were soon followed by the Augustinians. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) go as far as saying they provided a model of monastic rule which sounded the death-knell of the ancient native form. In 1171 Henry II of England claimed himself Lord of Ireland and began the process of subinfeudation. He told Pope Adrian that Irelands religion was corrupt, practically extinct, and his purpose was to bring the barbarous nation within the fold of the faith (MacManus 1921). The opinions of Henry II and Giraldus imply that the Irish werent strict Christians, suggesting that the Celtic beliefs were still somewhat in place. The writings of Giraldus would come in handy in the coming years of foreign exploitation, like an explorative report for imperialism. The Anglo-Norman invasions wreaked havoc amongst the Irish rulers and their landscape. There has been fighting in all provinces, endless campaigns, cattle-raids, burnings, atrocities Ireland lies like a trembling sod (Mitchell and Ryan 1998 quote an unknown author). After the in-depth exploration of the Irish reverence of yew it is dreadful to read Burkes (1958) comment; The conquest of Ireland, in 1172, would not have been possible without the use of the longbow. The ensuing centuries were ones of continuous conflict. The 13 th century saw a tremendous boom in foreign trade within the areas under English control. The natives continually challenged English rule, at one point claiming Brian ONeill High King of

PAGE 63

51 Ireland. In the 14 th century English trade imported the Black Death to Dublin and King Edward III was busy fighting the Hundred Years War. About a third of the area of Ireland was obedient to England and cross-cultural conflict continued. Volumes have been written about this period in Irelands history. The summation, for this particular subject, is that the ancient Irish culture was to receive a series of blows of which it would never thoroughly recover. However, throughout these centuries the Irish continued to attempt to resist the Normans, struggling to preserve their ways of life. The Irish retain a very important trait that isnt as evident in other cultures. MacManus (1990) clarifies this trait in the following lines: Here let us understand that the ancient historical legends of Ireland are, generally speaking, far from being baseless myths. The Irish people are a people who eminently cling to tradition. Intermarriage was prevalent between the Celts and the Normans and there is a common saying that the Normans became more Irish than the Irish. Thus the Celtic ways were wholly preserved for thousands of years until the Tudor monarchs began to shake the foundations. One hypothesis would be that the destruction of woods during Irish history was slower than the rest of Europe because of the Celtic adoration of trees (and Celts prevailed in Ireland longer than anywhere else in Europe). A 14 th century author Caithreim Thoirdhealbhaigh described cattle being hidden from raiding armies in the wooded mountains of Co. Clare (OSullivan 1993). The 8 th century tree-laws revealed the importance of cattle to early society. This remarkably was still evident in the 16 th century when the Earl of Kildare received 340 cows to compensate for the death of his foster brother (ODonovan 1940). Yew reverence had also prevailed as a hand carved yew drinking vessel was found in Co. Fermanagh not sufficiently Christian in design but elaborate enough to suggest a religious function

PAGE 64

52 (Seaby 1966). The author declares the majority of older wooden vessels, whether hand-cut or turned are found to be of yew. Sadly these times could possibly mark the end of the yew woods of Ireland. In 1551 the English Privy Council wrote a letter to the Lord Deputy stating that the yews in Ireland be used for bowstaves. This one record in the Calendar of State Papers (1509-1573) could have meant the near total destruction of the physical presence of a cultural icon. The House of Tudor and the House of Stuart The 16 th century brought the wrath of the House of Tudor to Ireland. In 1541 Henry VIII raised Ireland to an English kingdom and government assisted settlements, or plantations, were created whereby the natives were dislodged and land was parceled out to English settlers. Queen Elizabeth continued her fathers exploitation of Ireland into the 17 th century followed by an additional blow from James I of the House of Stuart, who proceeded to reform inhabitants better than any since the 11 th century invasion. He abolished many Irish customs which supplied the place of laws (Scrivenor 1967). James Ware similarly stated that ancient law remained in full vigor in those areas not under English rule and that English law wasnt universally acknowledged and submitted to until the reign of King James I (Harris 1739). So the 16 th and 17 th centuries placed Ireland into turmoil once again. Crotty (1966) says it best: Each upheaval represented the violent rejection by the old Irish order of the new order which its English exponents sought to impose. It is important to note the situation in England in order to understand Irelands fate during these years and to further understand the story of Youghal told in the following section.

PAGE 65

53 The forests in the south of England, decimated by Roman iron smelters, had regenerated. There was plentiful timber when Henry VIII became King in 1509, though it had been an export to France and Holland since the 14th century. The economy was stable, but the country was importing large amounts of salt, dyes, glass and iron products. While other countries had already destroyed their forests in order to export these goods, England still enjoyed substantial forest wealth. As the country would soon see, the amount exported did not nearly equal the amount needed to produce such goods. Despite the stable economy, the King became disenchanted as he witnessed Spain and Portugal making great profits from foreign exploitation and trade. In comparison to her European neighbors, England was lagging behind in industrial and maritime development. The danger of being reliant on imports soon became apparent. Rumors of war began to circulate and foreign arms suppliers halted export. The King moved quickly toward self-sufficiency. By 1549 the iron veins and oak woods of Sussex supported 53 ironworks (Perlin 1991). Within a few years local communities began to see the devastation of their life-supporting resource. Wood was quickly becoming unavailable to the common people. The Duke of Somerset sided with the people and was subsequently arrested and beheaded for aiding the insurrection of the Kings subjects (perhaps this is where the term ruling with an iron fist came from). When Elizabeth I came into power, she decided the best thing for England was to decrease importation and further self-sufficiency. Copper smelting, salt production and glassworks all came into being, further devastating the forests. Maritime power was nonexistent without timber. In order to build a cannon-bearing warship, about 2,000 oaks had to be felled (each having matured a century)(Perlin 1991). Shipbuilding was big business for Elizabeth and the oaks of

PAGE 66

54 Sussex were believed to be the best in the world for the job. The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, provoked Philip II of Spain to send his Armada to invade England in 1588. When the English defeated the Spanish Armada, at the expense of Englands oak forests, it was the beginning of her reigning power over the seas. After reviewing this course of history it is understandable that Perlin (1991) made the statement Elizabethan societyresulted in more destruction and waste of woodlands than in any other preceding period. As their native forests quickly ran out, English magnates began to hunger for Irelands forests. Irelands Losses The extent of forests in Ireland during early Tudor times is legendary. In many a history book one will find reference to the dark and deep forests as strongholds for the barbarous Irish rebels. Elizabeth then came along and ordered the destruction of the woods to deprive the rebels of their shelter and to reinforce Englands resources. Boate (1652) describes this time: But the English having settled themselves in the land, did by degrees greatly diminish the Woods in all the places where they were masters, partly to deprive the Theeves and Rogues, who used to lurk in the Woods in great numbers, of their refuge and starting-holes, and partly to gain the greater scope of profitable lands. In 1589 it was proposed to William Cecil that all glassworks be moved to Ireland so as to spare Englands few remaining forests (Perlin 1991). Though wood product export was already underway during the 15 th century in the form of barrels, boards and oars (Down 1987), Boate (1652) dates the greatest destruction of woodland in Ireland from 1603 to 1641. Mitchell (1988) (within his palynological analyses) correlates major woodland disturbance with the Elizabethan invasion of the 17th century. During this century there were many industries reliant on timber.

PAGE 67

55 Iron ore was widespread in Ireland and ironmaking flourished during the 17 th century. MacCracken (1957) talks of iron furnaces moving around Ireland as the local woods became exhausted. Coopering was obviously very dependent on the native resources as all items were made of wood. Staves and barrels of all sizes formed a large part of the Irish timber trade (MacCracken 1971). New colonizers needed accommodation according to their tastes, which were not houses made of wattle and daub or stone, but wood. This trend did not last long as timber, near to the new settlements, was running short. Dugout boats and cots (small primitive boats) had been used in Ireland for centuries, but during the 17 th century ship construction began (built of local oak). Only a few were sea-going vessels as numerous river boats were needed due to poor road infrastructure. The size of these boats must not be underestimated. MacCracken (1971) mentions three boats of the mid-17 th century at 18, 25, and 40 tons. After reviewing all of the industries reliant on timber, one would think there would be no forest left. MacCracken (1971) gave an estimate of 12 percent of Ireland being covered by woodland in the beginning of the 17 th century. In the beginning of the 19 th century only 2 percent remained. MacCracken (1971) talks of 17 th century authors mentioning the possibility of walking on the tops of trees for long distances. By the early 1700s timber was being imported into Ireland. An 18th century traveler relates a completely different image than that of Giraldus six centuries before him: The greatest part of the kingdom exhibits a naked, bleak, dreary view for want of wood, which has been destroyed for a century past with the most thoughtless prodigality (Young 1925).

PAGE 68

56 A Changed Icon The idolization of yew by the 1800s was completely different to that of the past. The professional landscape gardener Ninian Niven introduced the French style to the gentlemans Irish garden in the 1800s. Huge parallel hedges of yew, 250 years old, but healthy with clean, red stems, clipped but arched and bulging like static elephants reads an 1895 description of the Yew Arcades in Co. Meath (Malins et al. 1980). A catellated yew hedge on either side, and the walk terminated in a nymphaeum, flanked by obelisks sculpted in yew, reads a description of St. Annes Garden in Co. Dublin (Malins et al. 1980). I fear to imagine a yew personified in her ancient noble nature gazing in disgust at her piers shaped like static elephants. It also became fashionable in the 19 th century to plant Monks walks, parallel rows of yews, which had been a previous historic feature of several abbeys. Yews can still be found in gentlemens gardens. The Duke of Devonshire has an impressive yew hedge in his gardens at Lismore in Co. Waterford (Figure 3-6). It seems that after the devastation of the woods in the previous centuries, these gardens served as refuges. Boate said in 1652 in some places you may travell whole dayes long without seeing any woods or trees except a few about Gentlemans houses. Summary of the Regional Analysis Palynological evidence verifies that the yew was an intermittent member of the Irish woodlands during the Pleistocene. Ultimately, it was a fluctuating member of the landscape for the last several thousand years. The yew was prevalent at 7 Atlantic period locations researched by palynologists. This time is associated with a flourishing Neolithic culture known to have otherwise reduced woodlands. Many palynological investigations have shown the continuance of yew through the following Sub-Boreal and Sub-Atlantic climatic periods. The Celtic culture inhabited the area during the Sub-Atlantic and there

PAGE 69

57 is no evidence that yew populations declined, rather, they persevered while other species declined. The coupling of palynological and archival evidence verifies the yews abundance at the beginning of the last millennium. Giraldus stated in the 12 th century that he had never seen such an abundance of yew in his travels. The Irish culture at this point was bombarded with wave after wave of Norman invasions but it is reported that Christianity and English law did not significantly replace the Celtic belief systems until after the reign of James I. It is likely that the requirement for longbows and the eventual 16 th century law to use the yews of Ireland for such, along with Englands subinfeudation and general needs for exploiting Irelands woodlands, devastated yew populations. The Celtic reverence had been lost with the cultural change. By the 19 th century the yew was a popular element of gentlemens landscaped gardens and a sporadic element of churchyards, but rare on the natural landscape. The ultimate decline of these trees is thus intelligently conjectured at the regional scale. The research now moves to a finer resolution analysis, a detailed look at the species decline in the parish of Youghal. Section 2: The Prehistoric and Historic Presence of Yew in Youghal and the Physical, Political, and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual Decline The following section, a local account of a species decline, begins with an introduction to Youghals history and a summarization of several of the towns attributes. This initial sub-section surveys the etymological variations of the towns name and its evolution from Celtic to Anglicized form. It also presents an introduction to the areas geology, the limestone of which provides the yew trees preferred calcareous environment. Lastly, the areas changing sea level and local shoreline are discussed. The study area summary is followed by the methods, data, and interpretation of the local pollen analysis. The core site locations are described first, followed by sections on pollen

PAGE 70

58 concentration and counting methods, and an interpretation of the pollen data. The palynological analysis ends during the first century A.D. At this point, archival information is used to investigate the yews history as a landscape element onward to the 19th century. Introduction to Youghal A brief history The parish of Youghal at the mouth of the River Blackwater in eastern Co. Cork, south-central Ireland (see figure 1-4), was possibly settled in the Mesolithic, however, little is known about the earliest settlement (Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce 2001). The Celts left architectural evidence in the area thus their presence is substantiated. The first historical evidence, however, of occupation in the Youghal area isnt until 402 A.D. when a Christian mission was entrenched at Ardmore, just across the River Blackwater. The well-documented Youghal begins in 1211 A.D. when the Normans took the local Gaelic chieftain prisoner (OBrien 1982). By the later 13th century Youghal was second only to Bristol, England as the busiest port in the British Isles (Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce 2001). A town with many names The Annals of the Four Masters (AFM) is a manuscript that chronicles events in Ireland from before the Age of Christ to the year 1616 A.D. The AFM mentions an area called Eochaill in the 9 th century. By 1224 A.D. the AFM refers to this area as Youghal. Toponymic analysis revealed 17 town names where the ancient word Eochaill had been manipulated. A few examples are; Aughall, Oghill, Okyle, and of course, Youghal. Kevin Murray, a linguist at University College Cork, verified there is no doubt from a linguistic point of view the standard compound eo (yew) and caill (wood,

PAGE 71

59 forest) give Eochaill (modern Irish spelling), translating as yew-wood(Department of Early & Medieval Irish, University College Cork, Cork, personal communication, October 2, 2001). In the 17 th century Thomas Dineley wrote this account: Yoghal, or Youghall, took its name from the vulgar O-Kyle, which signifies of the wood, its original foundacion being where was a thick wood, as I was informed by a very reverend Divine, Raymund Bourgh, al Bourk, of the University of Dublin. (Shirley 1863 p322) Evelyn Shirley, the author of the publication of Dineleys extracts, places a footnote here saying that Youghal actually means yew-wood, not just of the wood. In these few lines we have seen the town of Youghal (as it is presently spelled) written as Eochaill, O-Kyle, Yoghal, and Youghall. Lord (1784) states that Youghall in latin is Ochella, whereas Coleman (1923) claims the latin version is Jochull. Historical variation of the spelling varies enormously. Within Fields Handbook of Youghal (1896) there are at least 10 different spellings of Youghal (Youghall, Yoghill, Yoghil, Yoghell, Yoghel, Yough-halle, Eo-chaille, Yoghyll, Yogholl, Yoghull). This book is a compilation that includes entries from many sources with a date range of 402 A.D. 1896 A.D. Within Lords (1784) Ancient and Present State of Youghal there are 4 different spellings (Ochill, Jokile, Youkelain, Ochella), none of which are used in Field (1896). Walter Raleigh used a seemingly unique spelling Yoholl (Latham 1999). A compilation of other sources from the 16-19 th centuries reveals a pattern that eventually led to the common spelling (Table 3-2). The geological landscape and its origins Southeast Cork has an interesting geologic structure. It is characterized by alternating east-west trending Devonian sandstone ridges and Carboniferous limestone valleys, the limestone resting in downfolded portions of sandstone. During the early

PAGE 72

60 Devonian, c. 400 million years ago (mya), the land that became Ireland was in the southern hemisphere located at about 20 latitude and experienced a semi-desert climate. As time passed, the land in the north eroded and transported large quantities of sand and mud into the areas South Munster Basin. These sediments hardened under pressure into sandstone. By about 350 mya warm shallow seas flooded the basin and limestone eventually covered the sandstone. Sandstone and shale later formed atop the rising landscape and warm conditions enabled colonization of tropical forests and coal formation ensued. This limestonesandstone/shale-coal period is known as Irelands Carboniferous period (355-290 mya). At the end of this period, tectonic activity affected southern Ireland where the old sandstone and overlying Carboniferous deposits were folded into pleats which ran east/west (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This stage of folding is known as the Variscan Orogeny. At some point a carbonexodus occurred, a period where denudation stripped away virtually all the coal (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This is understandable as Ireland at this point had a desert climate, being located somewhere above 10 latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. Desert erosion was extensive and much of the Carboniferous limestone was once again exposed. In southern Ireland, much of the limestone was removed except for the troughs between the sandstone ridges (it is within these limestone troughs that we find yews today). Figure 3-7 illustrates the formation of the ridge and valley system. The town of Youghal sits on a Devonian outcrop of Sandstone and Mudstone. Situated on a hillside, the town slopes upward from Youghal Harbour in the east to an elevation of 80 m to the west. Immediately to the north is the Tourig River Valley primarily underlain with Carboniferous limestone. To the south is a large valley c. 5 km

PAGE 73

61 in N-S width and c. 65 km in E-W length, the majority of which is below 20 m in elevation. This valley, locally known as the Cork-Youghal Valley, is also primarily underlain with Carboniferous limestone, the preferred substrate for yew. The areas shoreline Mean sea level in Ireland has varied over thousands of years due to local and global scale processes. Dr. Robert Devoy, the previously mentioned coastal specialist and lecturer at University College Cork, states that sea level was c. 60 m lower 14,000 years ago and that it rose at c. 6 mm per year until about 5000 years ago (Geography Department, University College Cork, Cork, personal communication, January 8, 2002). This implies that sea level was still 12 m below current sea level 6000 years ago. Devoy (1984) states sea level at Cork Harbour, 35 km west of Youghal, was 12 m lower at 5500 B.C. Robin Wingfield has proposed that the lower sea level due to the last glacial period created a land bridge linking Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (approximately 100 km east of Youghal) to Devon, England by 11,000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This coincides with the Woodgrange Interstadial (13,000-10,600 BP) period when massive immigrations of flora and fauna have been found in many pollen diagrams. Pollen studies in America have shown that during the Holocene, oak and spruce migrated northward at rates of up to one kilometer per year (Pitelka 1997). These early Holocene migrations were not impeded by human landscapes that today render increasingly impassable barriers. These theories lead to the belief that yew would have established itself in southern Ireland first as it moved northward in the postglacial. Dr. Wingfield proposes that the land bridge was severed, thus sea levels rose, by 9500 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998).

PAGE 74

62 Youghals shoreline Directly to the west of the town of Youghal is a long, windswept strand (Figure 3-8). This beach is about 6 km long and is interrupted, about a kilometer to the east of its terminus, by the mouth of the River Womanagh. This strand is home to an extensive peat bed only exposed when storms move the sand to the west (Figure 3-9). The peat holds at least several hundred fossilized tree stumps. Both Dr. Devoy and I individually obtained samples of these stumps. Cellular analysis proved them to be of yew, oak, and alder (Robert Devoy, Geography Department, University College Cork, Cork, personal communication, January 8, 2002). Radiocarbon dating revealed two yew fossils to be 287060 BP and 245060 BP (Beta Analytic Inc., Miami, results catalogued in Appendix B). A literature search provided no historical evidence of a woodland in this location. This beach, commonly known as the strand, was described in the 18 th century as a common turf-bog, covered over with sand and pebbles; from whence not only good turf is dug every season, but also great quantities of timber trees, as fir, hazel, etc are found (Lord 1786). Youghal was a tourist spot during the 1800s. The relatively fair weather and inviting beach brought people from all over Ireland. The beach, however, was disappearing. The sea is making great inroads on the land along this shoreThe flat strand was once a race course (Gibson 1861). Erosion was so serious that in 1898 Mr. Allanson-Winn proposed an embankment, sluice and sluice run, and 17 groynes (Allanson-Winn 1903). The project was completed several years later but not in time to stop a breach into the 600-acre Ballyvergan Marsh directly behind the strand (Figure 3-10 shows the location of the town, strand, and marsh). The attempt at halting mother nature

PAGE 75

63 was only temporary. Charles OConnell (1945) noted several indications that the shoreline around Youghal was continuing to erode rapidly: The shoreline at Inch, a town to the southwest, had receded 120 yards in 70 years and the shoreline at Ballycotton, also to the west, had receded within living memory. He also talked of a dolmen in the Rostellan area to the west that is submerged at high tide. The presence of peat, tree fossils, and the dolmen on the shoreline verify that sea level was once much lower and that a forest once survived here. The Yew in Youghals Prehistory Paleoecological Evidence The in situ fossils on the strand, the presence of peatland, and the towns well-documented history, affirmed Youghal to be an excellent location for reconstructing a species decline via archival and palynological research. Palynological research begins by obtaining sediment cores that contain the microfossils (pollen) that reveal sequences of past vegetative landscapes. There are several methods of obtaining these cores. Basically, a coring instrument is pushed into the ground to retrieve the surface meter, the core is recovered, and the mechanism is placed down the same hole to acquire the next meter and so on. The sediment of the core is then sampled at intervals, the space of which depends on the desired temporal resolution. The sampling procedure can be done in the field or in the laboratory. Laboratory analysis follows which consists of sub-sampling each interval (depth) and processing the sediment to eliminate everything except the pollen. The pollen is then placed on slides and the taxa that survived at that depth, ultimately that time period, can be identified. This data, in interval order from top to bottom, gives a chronological history of the vegetation. In this case, analysis of 2 cores taken at Youghal provided a Holocene chronology for the presence of yews in the area.

PAGE 76

64 Core site locations Ballyvergan Marsh The east side of Ballyvergan Marsh is located just over one kilometer southwest of town. It stretches westward lying just to the south of the N25, the main Youghal to Cork City road. The marsh lies in the Cork-Youghal Valley and is underlain with Carboniferous limestone. To the north and to the east (where the town lies) are red sandstone ridges. The derelict G.S.&W. Railway runs east/west approximately through the center of the marsh. The marsh has an area of c. 246 hectares and is home to large populations of Phragmites communis (common reed). Salix (willow) and Alnus (alder) dot the landscape and Carex (sedge) fills any Phragmites gaps. The town acknowledges the marsh as an important tourist opportunity and have formed the Ballyvergan Marsh Committee to watch over this proposed Natural Heritage Area. The marsh was systematically probed to find a site that would provide the longest core in an attempt to cover the longest possible time period. The probing was carried out using a connectable system of 1-meter aluminum rods provided by the Botany Department at Trinity University, Dublin. The average depth of sediment atop the limestone base is 3.95 meters. This average of 30 probe depths does not include the exceptional location that was chosen for coring, where a 6 + meter depth was located. The site of this core, hence referred to as the Marsh Core (MC), located 51 56.19 min N latitude, 07 52.25 min W longitude, was cored on August 26 th 2001. Boards were carried to the site and placed on the surface of the Marsh to form a sturdy base. A Livingstone corer, provided by the above Department, was used to extract an eight-meter core with a two and a half-inch diameter. Each meter of sediment was preserved in a primary layer of plastic wrap and a secondary layer of aluminum foil. The cores were

PAGE 77

65 removed from the marsh in half pipes of PVC and that evening placed in plastic tubes for transportation. The top two-meters contained peat and were subsampled at c.10 cm intervals in February, 2002 at the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI) at the University of Florida (UF). The bottom six-meters were gray silt and were subsampled at 10 cm intervals. The silt subsamples were sent to Robert Devoy at UCC for diatom analysis which is incomplete at this time. The Youghal Strand The second core was taken from the peatbed on the strand on December 21 st 2001. This core (Strand Core = SC) was extracted at 51 56.020 min N latitude, 07 51.545 min W longitude. SC is .857 kilometers from MC. Thus the strand site is .857 km east-southeast (bearing 111) of the marsh site. An auger corer supplied by the Geography Department at Trinity College, Dublin was used to obtain the core. A two-meter core, with a one-inch diameter, was extracted and subsampled at the site. This core had the same gross stratigraphy as the marsh core with just less than two meters of peat followed by gray silt. Subsampling was not at consistent intervals because of the nature of the core. Wood was encountered at many depths thus the sampling depths became irregular. The samples were placed in small, labeled plastic bags for transportation. Con Foley of the Youghal Council Yard was interested in the structure of the sediment so he ordered a backhoe from town that dug a five and a half-meter hole. There was just less than two-meters of peat then three-meters of gray silt followed by pink clay. We did not reach the limestone base as the tide was quickly coming in. Subsamples of the bottom three-meters were sent to Robert Devoy for diatom analysis, which is incomplete at this time.

PAGE 78

66 Pollen concentration The subsamples from both cores were processed at the LUECI laboratory at UF. The pollen concentration method for pollen analysis was as follows: 1. Subsamples of 1cm 3 were taken from the selected samples of MC and SC. 2. The subsamples were placed in labeled 16X125 polypropylene test tubes. 3. A solution of 10% NaOH was added to the tubes. 4. The tubes were placed in a 90C water bath for 27 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. 5. The tubes were vibrated in a FS110 de-ionizer to reduce clumping and thus reduce losses during the sieving process. 6. The samples were then poured through a 106 m sieve into several test tubes, washing the sieve and original test tube with deionized water. 7. The samples were centrifuged at 2500 rpm for 5 minutes and the samples were reassembled into one test tube each. (each step is now followed by the same centrifugation) 8. All samples were washed 8-10 times with deionized water (until the supernatant was clear). 9. The samples were again vibrated to reduce clumping. 10. The samples then underwent a glacial acetic acid wash in order to remove all water before acetolysis. 11. Erdtmanns acetolysis mixture (9ml of acetic anhydride + 1ml concentrated sulphuric acid) was added to the samples and placed in the water bath for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 12. The samples were again washed with glacial acetic acid. 13. The samples were washed with tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA). After the TBA was decanted, the tubes were covered with several layers of AccuWipe tissue, enclosed in the idle fume hood, and left for several days in order to make sure the residual TBA had evaporated. Six to 10 drops of silicon oil were then

PAGE 79

67 added to the remaining pollen concentration in the test tubes. Three slides were made from each sample with material directly from the test tube. Pollen counting Two slides were chosen to represent each sample (depth). The first 100 pollen grains encountered on each slide were tallied along with a separate count of the copious Poylpodiaceae (ferns) spores. The grains were counted as Taxus (yew) or non-Taxus and the easily identified taxa such as; Alnus (alder), Salix (willow), Quercus (oak), Pinus (pine), Betula (birch), Ericales (heather), Graminae (grass), Urtica (nettle), and Plantago (plantain) were tallied. The preservation and number of identified grains varied tremendously through both cores. Radiocarbon dating The peat of both MC and SC was encumbered with pieces of plant material. Four samples of this material were collected from SC for radiocarbon dating: The samples were taken from 12 cm, 86 cm, 120 cm, and 180 cm from the surface. This core was chosen for dating because of the presence of fossilized yew stumps in the immediate area. The four samples were dried and ground at LUECI by Dr. Jason Curtis. The samples were then sent to the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry in California. The resulting 14 C ages were 192035, 311535, 387034, and 455535 radiocarbon years BP respectively (see Appendix B for a copy of the results). These dates were used to identify the temporal characteristics of the core. Pollen data Because of the inconsistency of sampling depth for the SC, the coarse sampling resolution of the MC (10 cm), the fact that only 200 grains per depth were counted, and there was a low percentage of identified pollen, I did not use the common diagram

PAGE 80

68 method of pollen percentage presentation. Also, the purpose of this section was originally to simply identify the presence/absence of yew at different depths and to create solely a yew chronology. Modified diagrams (Figures 3-11 and 3-12), created in Microsoft Excel and Word 2000, reveal the relative pollen abundance of individual taxa that can be visually compared to others without inferring amounts between depths. Overall temporal patterns of individual taxa can be observed by following its representative column. The first row of figures 3-11 (marsh core pollen data) and 3-12 (strand core pollen data) are the common taxa found in the respective core. The rows below reveal the abundance of the taxas pollen/spore grains at each sampled depth. The size of the rectangular symbol is representative of the number of grains found at the particular depth. Out of the 519 entries (all non-zero pollen/spore counts for each taxa at each depth in both diagrams) 495 (95%) had counts of 42 or less pollen/spore grains. Of the remaining 24 relatively high pollen/spore entries 14 (58%) belong to Polypodiaceae (ferns), three to Alnus (alder), six to Carex (sedge), and one to Graminae (grass). These four taxa are often over-represented in pollen analysis. Two symbols in the diagrams are dedicated to these high grain counts, one representative of 43-121 pollen/spores and one representative of 122-200 pollen/spores. The smaller symbols represent increments of 1-5, 6-10, 11-20, 21-30, and 31-42 grains. Though 74% of the entries fall between 1 and 10 grains, it is unlikely that variations among such small numbers represent a significant change in vegetation. Thus only two symbols, or categories, are dedicated to occurrences of less than 10 grains. Once the raw data (provided in Appendix C) was transformed into these seven categories, the number of category changes between adjacent depths was tallied to find

PAGE 81

69 significant changes in vegetation and delineate pollen zones (these counts are documented in Appendix C as a table coupled with the raw data). Similarities to the generalized zones described earlier in the work are seen in the diagrams and discussed in the interpretation. The creation of zones on the MC pollen diagram was done without consulting the SC diagram and vice versa. The zones correlated well enabling the consideration of the pollen diagrams as one entity. The data, transformed into atypical, but simply created pollen diagrams, successfully reveals general changes across the landscape through geologic time. Interpretation and discussion of the pollen data retrieved from the cores The deepest peat of the cores dates to c. 5000 yr BP. At this point the limestone lowland extended farther to the south and east, beyond the current shoreline, as the sea is shallow and only reaches 10 m below sea level 5 km away from shore. Zone I Pollen in both sediment cores suggests a freshwater habitat in the area until c. 4500 BP. Taxa such as Myriophyllum (water milfoil), Nymphaea (water lily), and Typha (bulrush/cattail) are present at both sites and Potamogeton (pondweed) was identified at MC. Yew, elm, alder, oak, pine, and hazel, were present at both sites by the end of the period. We can imagine a landscape with numerous vegetation groups and a freshwater pond or lake. The yew and oak survived on the well-drained soils while alder occupied the wetter niche. The presence of heather and relatively high grass pollen at SC suggests areas of open woodland. The yew would have needed shade for its establishment and hazel and oak likely filled the requirement. The pine clung to the poorer, less developed soils of the nearby sandstone ridges.

PAGE 82

70 Zone II The freshwater environment turned into a fully-developed woodland by c. 4400 BP which lasted until c. 4000 BP. The typical period for developed woodland in northwestern Europe is c. 6500-5000 BP (Rackhams Zone VIIa). The various groups of vegetation, occurring at the conclusion of Zone I, had further developed after the freshwater environment abated. At SC, hazel provided the shade for a yew/oak woodland to develop on the well-drained soils with fern occupying the understory. The hazel at MC provided the shade for yew to increase during the next zone. A wet woodland existed at both sites with alder, willow, and sedge. Birch and pine also endured throughout the period. SC had a more dense woodland than MC as heather disappears at this site, oak and yew are better represented, and holly appears (a common member of a well-developed oak/yew complex). Open areas also existed as grasses are represented at both sites throughout the zone with bedstraw (Gallium) adding to the diversity at SC. Zone III This zone includes an elm decline. Since the core does not provide a longer chronology, it is impossible to see what the elm populations were c. 5200 BP when elm was rapidly declining throughout northwestern Europe. Hirons and Edwards (1986) noted a second elm decline in Co. Tyrone at about 4300 BP when elm somewhat recovered from an initial decline before decreasing again. The synchroneity of the initial 6 th millennium BP elm decline argues against human interference. The ultimate decline at Youghal occurred c. 3900 BP. Pine disappears at both sites just after the elm but yew continues to be represented at both sites. If climate was the culprit for the elm decline, it certainly wasnt an onset of cold as yew representation does not significantly falter. The yew/oak/fern complex is well represented at SC. This type of woodland occurs to the north of present day Youghal at Glengarra Wood in Co. Tipperary and is discussed later

PAGE 83

71 in the document. Plantago and nettle are both represented at SC during this zone and MC shows the largest spike of nettle found at either site. The presence of these disturbance indicators coupled with the reduction of pine suggests human disturbance. Bronze Age disturbance has been noted at many sites in Ireland, as was previously discussed. The fact that the yew/oak woodland persists at SC supports that the pre-Celtic inhabitants of this area valued these species. Alder, willow, and sedge are well represented at MC. Thus MC remains the wetter site while SC has occurrences of Lactuceae (dandelion), Aster, and the return of bedstraw. The similarity to other pollen diagrams, in terms of yew enduring this period of decline of other taxa, is striking. Devastation of yew populations is more likely to show up in the pollen record as it would tend to be absent from the record longer than other taxa because of its slow growth and late sexual maturity. This concept coupled with the consistent presence of its pollen suggests that the yew was relatively undisturbed during this period. Zone IV This zone marks a major change at MC that begins at c. 3000 yr BP. The count of alder and willow pollen are low in comparison to the previous zones. Decreasing pollen values (excluding the grasses) characterize Zone IV at MC. This period of reduced tree and shrub taxa is coupled with an all-time low of sedge (sedge is indicative of moist conditions and is a dominant feature of the other zones at MC). What is notable here is that this phenomenon is not coupled at MC with the presence of disturbance indicators like nettle and plantain. The time period lies at the end of Godwin and Rackhams sub-Boreal zone, a drier period after the Atlantic phase. This scenario sets up an argument for climate change.

PAGE 84

72 SC shows a similar phase though not as obvious and would probably not be interpreted the same way without the evidence from the nearby MC. This period begins with an increase in alder only to drop off mid-way through the zone. By the end of the zone oak and willow disappear. Yew disappears briefly at the same point that alder diminishes. Beech (Betula) and holly (Ilex) pollen were identified only once in this core, just before the drop of alder and yew. Hazel does not seem to be effected by the changes occurring at this time at SC (but it does disappear at MC). Though nettle and plantain occasionally show up in this zone at SC, they do not appear coupled with the declines. In fact both of these disturbance indicators drop off at the same point as the yew, alder, and heather. Perhaps the sub-Boreal period occurred slightly later in this region. Zone VThis zone begins c. 2500 BP. Alder and willow values are again low at MC but are well represented at SC. Sedge increases at both sites, indicating the abatement of the previous dry period. Oak, yew, and fern are represented at both sites. The fact that this oak/yew/fern complex is indicated at both sites suggests this habitat was relatively more extensive during this time also supporting that the previous dry period had abated. Birch, elm, and pine make a brief appearance at SC and birch is consistent at MC. Both disturbance taxa appear but do not occur in great numbers. The time frame indicates possible Celtic presence. The record of yew persisting through Celtic occupation elsewhere in Ireland was previously discussed and is evident in these cores. Disturbance isnt dismissed, but yew and oak pollen are not obviously reduced. Grasses are fairly consistent and do not show any dramatic increases nor do disturbance taxa during this zone. The absence of disturbance taxa and grass pollen does not support the theory of the association of Celtic arrival with the plough at this location.

PAGE 85

73 Perhaps the favorable climate and a low human population enabled sustainable use of the woodland. Zone VI This is the last observable zone at SC as beach erosion has removed peat from the site for hundreds of years. The mid point of the zone was dated at c. 1920 BP (mid first century A.D.). The yew persists throughout the zone at both sites as does oak, alder, hazel, sedge, fern, and grass. Woodland, wet woodland, and scrubland were all present at this time. Perhaps the landscape included an alder/willow/sedge wet woodland, a hazel/grass scrubland, and a yew/oak/fern woodland. This zone marks the introduction of another disturbance taxa at MC, Equisetum (horse-tail), which thrives along the railway line of the marsh today. The three disturbance taxa are persistent at MC during this zone. Lime (Tilia) and birch disappear at MC and willow decreases at SC. Birch and willow are both considered commoners of the woods in Celtic law. The yew/oak complex is once again undisturbed, and both trees are nobles of the woods. This evidence supports the strength of the Celtic culture in the area. Zone VII This zone is only evident at MC and is characterized by an absence of all tree taxa except alder and an increase in sedge. The radiocarbon date indicates that this zone included the commencement of the Christianization of the area. Fine resolution could not be obtained for the last thousand years. The site was so heavily populated with reed and the roots penetrated to 70 cm. It was necessary to dig out this first layer for the corer to get past the root systems. As was previously stated, the top layer of SC had eroded thus leaving only a brief record of Christianized Youghal at MC. Zone VII, with

PAGE 86

74 its associated decline of tree pollen, is a significant indicator of a major event that is revealed in the next few pages. The General observations regarding the palynological results are inserted within the rest of the paper. The study of the yew in Youghal takes an archival/historical turn after a brief comment about yew pollen. Comment It should be mentioned that the numbers of yew pollen found in the core subsamples are low in comparison to other pollen types. For example, the number of grains above and below the absence of yew during Zone V (at 28 cm at the strand) are only 1 and 2 pollen grains. The previously mentioned female bias of the species could mean that the yew was present though in small numbers (this could account for the few cases of absence in both pollen diagrams). Though pollen production is high in yew, the poor preservation of the grain over time as well as a possible lack of endurance through pollen concentration methods could result in an underestimation of the occurrence of this species in palynological analyses. The Yew in Youghals History Archeological and Archival Evidence Eochaill and its yews to 830 A.D. A.F. OBrien, an east Cork historian, states the origins of Youghal are obscure (1986). As can be seen from microliths from Blackwater River area, man was present in Co. Cork by 6,000 BC (Woodman 1984). Archaeological evidence tells us that the Celts were prevalent in the area in the first millennium A.D. A quick look at the current OS maps reveals over 60 ring-forts, a common element of the 1 st millennium A.D. landscape, within 15 km of Youghal. Hayman (1879) reported finding an ogham stone by a priory in town. A similar stone was found that had been used as a building stone of St. Declans

PAGE 87

75 Oratory, Ardmore. We know by palynological evidence that yew survived into the first half of the 1 st millennium A.D. We know by the clues left on the landscape that the Celts were prevalent during the same time. The coming of Christianity is also known as the end of prehistory in Ireland. Christianity began to take hold in the area by 461 A.D. when St. Declan is said to have built his seminary in Ardmore. In 501 A.D. St. Molanfide established an abbey at Molana, north of the town on the Blackwater River, and in 575 A.D. St. Coran established a monastery at Shanavine just west of Youghal town. In 680 A.D. a Saxon church was established in Youghal town. The establishment of numerous ecclesiastical sites hints at a significant population. It is likely that the initial presence of Christianity did not result in substantial upheavals of Celtic culture. The clans were fighting each other and were probably far more worried about hostile invasions of their land. The Norsemen, or Vikings, were in the region by the 8 th century A.D. They plundered Lismore, to the north of Youghal, in 812 A.D. There is suspicion of a pre 9 th century Norse settlement at Youghal but there is no record of their plundering the Christian sites there making this an unlikely scenario as Youghal was ecclesiastically connected with Lismore. There are numerous entries in the various Annals of Ireland that reveal events in the area. There is one invaluable entry that describes a major transformation of the landscape. It is an entry in the Annals of Ulster (AU) for 830 A.D. This entry tells us that the Blackwater River, known historically as the Avonmore, changed course from Ardmore and submerged the valley of Youghal. Whiting bay, about 5 km east of Youghal, is still locally known as Beul-Amhain meaning mouth of the river. Ireland is subject to

PAGE 88

76 prodigious and durable rains which drown the land (Dineley 1681). Condon (1945) states: From the earliest times the lower harbour of Youghal and the western side of Youghal bay were under dense forestas a result of various land oscillations these coastal forests were submerged and the harbour of Youghal formed. (p117) This event could explain Zone VII in the marsh core where most tree taxa suddenly disappear. The more northerly location of the valley (the marsh core site) always had lower values of tree pollen and perhaps a great percentage of it was from a prehistoric forest to the southeast (the strand). There was no lithological evidence of a flood event in the top root layer of the marsh core that was dug away, indicating that the flood may not have reached this more elevated section of the valley. Of course, the spatially limited palynological data gives us no clue as to the extent of the flood but the sudden disappearance of the tree taxa suggests a significant depletion of woodland. The lower areas of the valley, to the southeast of the current strand, would obviously be the first to flood creating a new bay. The parsimonious answer is that the advanced shoreline created a saline environment that was not amenable to the resident species (that prehistorically formed around a freshwater environment). But how is it possible that there is wood left to be found on the strand today, when we know that humans were prevalent in the area during this event? Gibson, in 1861, commented that bogwood is often raised from the peat beneath the sand. The two pieces of fossilized wood were dated c. 2870 BP (920 B.C.) and c. 2450 BP (500 B.C.), a thousand years before the course of the river changed. Via pollen analysis we know that the forest lived well past the entrance of the 1 st millennium A.D. Perhaps the wood of the forest on the surface, that died off as a result of the flood, was utilized by humans and that erosion has revealed successive layers of the ancient forest floor.

PAGE 89

77 The AU entry was also explored by a 19th century author who put a slightly different touch on the story. His description is quite poignant and is worth quoting at length: The 9 th century of the Christian era opened with extraordinary disturbances of nature. Earthquakes and tempests, accompanied by terrible thunderings and lightenings, appalled Europe. The sea made ravages in innumerable places. It carried away a great part of Heligoland, and changed the coasts of Brittany. Even the lagunes of Venice felt the commotion; and the isles of Ammiano and Costanziaco disappeared. Our native historians record the calamities that simultaneously befel Irelands shores he then refers to the AU entry Under the influence of this tempest, the Blackwater piercing its southern confining bank of shingle, rushed to meet the ocean through the low-lying valley of Eo-chaille. Its rapid torrent excavated the swampy ground of Moin-na-traigh, straightway converting it into an arm of the foaming sea (now Youghal harbour). The great forest on the moor beyond (the bay and long strand) was, in a moment, submerged. Such of the trees as were uprooted, floated up and were swept out to sea; but many retained their hold, were prostrated and buried in sand, still clinging by the roots to their native bed. (Hayman 1860 p37) The discussion of the yews of Youghal could certainly end at this point, but several nearby populations of yew live today and reverence for the tree was evident in the town in the 19 th century. These facts require the study to continue past the tremendous flood event that occurred in the year 830 A.D. The latter 9 th century to the Norman invasion I had previously wondered why the first Christian establishment in the area was at Ardmore. It seemed a better location would have been at Youghal where there was access to the interior via the River Blackwater. The archival evidence regarding the change in the position of the mouth of the river suggests an answer. Ardmore was closer to the historical mouth of the river. Just after the date of this dramatic landscape change the historical archives suddenly begin to more commonly mention a place called Eochaill (now conveniently located at the mouth of the River Blackwater).

PAGE 90

78 It didnt take long for the new harbor to be utilized. The AFM mentions a victory in 864 A.D. over a Danish fleet and fortress at Youghal by the Deisi, a tribe that was conquering lands in the area as early as the 5 th century. Perhaps the Deisi retained the area after conquering the Norsemen, or lived coherently with the Christian missionaries, as in 872 A.D. they themselves were plundered as far as the Youghal pass by another tribe, the Cearbhall. Problems between these tribes led the Deisi to settle in Demetia (now Pembrokeshire, Wales). Christianity took a firmer hold in the latter 10 th century as the round tower at Ardmore was built in 960 A.D. In 1020 A.D. St. Marys Norman Church was built in Youghal around the foundations of its smaller Saxon predecessor. The 12 th century marked the ascendancy of the Mac Carthaigh clan in the region. Jefferies (1985) believes this ascendancy was aided by local Norsemen. In 1173 A.D. Lismore was again plundered, this time by the Anglo-Norman troops of Richard de Clare (Strongbow). Diarmaid Mac Carthaigh sent a fleet, with a Norse leader, to intercept their ships off the coast of Youghal. Jefferies (1985) and Field (1896) describe how the Irish fought with stones and axes and the Normans fought superiorly with arrows. The 12-15th centuries Diarmaid was the last Gaelic chieftain in east Cork. He was taken prisoner in 1211 (OBrien 1982). This date marked the beginning of enduring Norman rule in the area. In 1177 King Henry II gave the region to Miles de Cogan and Robert Fitz Stephen who then began the process of subinfeudation. Fitz Stephen granted land in Ui Meic Caille (Imokilly) to Alexander Fitz Gerald who passed it on to his brother Gerald who then passed it on to his son Maurice. It is this Maurice Fitz Gerald, obtaining his land in 1215, who is often considered the founder of Youghal. In 1202 the town received a Royal

PAGE 91

79 Charter, and in 1275 obtained a further charter from Edward I permitting them to levy customs for a period of seven years for the purpose of enclosing the town with stone walls and defences (Healy 1988). The architecture of the wall indicates bows were being used at the time of construction. The Anglo-Normans were considered intruders and thus needed protection against the rebellious Irish. The walls were definitely built for an archers defense as there is evidence of a chemin de ronde or broad archers walk, later raised for musketeer defense (Buckley 1900). The longbow was the weapon of choice at this point, and dominated as such until the middle of the 16 th century (historicalweapons.com). Thus the yew takes its place on the local landscape once again, as a tool of war. The Geraldine proprietors commenced colonizing the town with citizens from Bristol, England. The house of the Fitz Geralds of Desmond (South Munster inclusive of counties Cork, Kerry, and west Waterford) ruled the area from 1220-1600. The 13 th century brought rapid development to Youghal making it a major Irish seaport and center of trade. In 1224 the Franciscan South Abbey was established in Youghal town and by 1268 the Dominican North Abbey was also established. To illustrate Youghals importance, in the 13 th century London was c. 1 square mile in size where Youghal was of a square mile (Sheila Loughnan, Chamber of Commerce Historian, Youghal, Co. Cork, personal communication, September 5 th 2001). King Edward I rallied ships from Ireland in 1301 to aid in his Scottish expedition. Youghal was the only port required to send 3 ships proving its rank as a flourishing town. There were hard times during the 14 th century. Youghals Annals (Field 1896) talk of constant rains and the high price of wheat. The first Earl of Desmond, Maurice Fitz

PAGE 92

80 Thomas, ended up in a heated debate with the crown about land title ending up in rebellion and the ultimate fragmentation of the Anglo-Irish lordship system. Anti-crown rebels besieged the town and the Black Death struck the population. The Anglo-Normans did not control all of Ireland at this time, nor did they ever. There were constant wars between the foreigners and the Irish and it is unlikely that Irish customs were wiped out any farther than an arrows flight from Anglo-Norman towns. Irish customs might even have been strengthened by the increased threat of these foreigners to their culture. It is also unlikely that the Normans ventured into the possibly hostile Irish woodlands to obtain wood for their longbows. Nearby yew populations may thus have been safe from decimation at this point and the amount of suitable habitat in the area (limestone valleys) probably supported some. The Medieval Warm Period was at hand and, in general, the yew woods of Ireland were still flourishing as Giraldus Cambrensis and palynological evidence has previously implied. The 1400s were quiet in comparison to the preceding centuries but the 15 th century witnessed a synthesis of Gaelic and colonial traditions and prosperous local economic expansion (OBrien 1986). The only piece of encountered history significant to understanding the local landscape is one that refers to iron. The King (Henry IV; 1399-1413) granted a license to purchase, and import to Youghal, 30 cargoes of iron from the counties of Dublin, Meath, and Louth (Field 1896). This implies that ironworks were not employed close to Youghal. As we will see, this did not last for long. The quiet nature of the 15 th century was probably due to Englands preoccupation with more important affairs, such as Henry Vs campaign at Agincourt. Englands incessant use of the longbow must have reduced many a yew population in Europe and it wasnt much more

PAGE 93

81 than a hundred years later that the Thrones needs would be partially fulfilled by the resources of Ireland. 16 th century Youghal In 1541 Henry VIII claimed Ireland as an English kingdom and the plantation period began. The 16 th century saw the crown insisting on the allegiance of Old English seaport towns in order to stand up to the Gaelic interior. These towns were needed as vantage points for the crown to hold on to control. At this point towns were given a certain amount of autonomy for loyalty. The revival of the port towns such as Youghal was an essential element in the political and economic history of Ireland in the late 15 th and 16 th centuries (OBrien 1986). Thus Youghal became a very important trade center. The town was tied with Bristol, many of its citizens being planted there by the Fitz Geralds in the 13 th century. Because Bristol was one of the great centers of commercial communication with Ireland, Youghal thrived. Indeed the trade of these parts [England] was almost entirely with Ireland, especially that of Bristol early in the century (Longfield 1924). Exports poured out of Waterford, Wexford, and Youghal. These exports included many timber products such as oars, oar-blades, hoopstaves, poles, laths, beams, small beams, ingle boards, and ship planks (Longfield 1924). As was previously mentioned, in 1551 Edward VI commanded that the yews in Ireland be used for bowstaves (Calendar of State Papers 1551). Youghal was again a bustling port and it is inevitable that this law impinged upon any yews surviving in the area. Many Irish were probably undergoing incredible hardship and the sale of yew wood would be profitable. Custom often gives way to survival.

PAGE 94

82 A Unique Find: Evidence of Woodland in Maps For years I thought the only large-scale maps of pre-Elizabethan Ireland were those that one creates in the mind when reading historical literature, of which Ireland is lucky to have plenty. Andrews (1985) referred to a pre-Elizabethan cartographic absence as an evidential dark age. The political activity during this time period greatly affected the landscape. After 1583, when the Earl of Desmond was ousted, the crown confiscated the rebels land in county Cork. These lands were settled into seignories and the large ploughlands of the Desmonds became fragmented into smaller units. It seemed advantageous to study the history of Irish map-making to gather clues about what was happening in southern Ireland. The plantation regime and its associated fragmentation brought with it an age of mapmaking in order to secure the new imposed boundaries. Only a handful of these maps survive. I unexpectedly uncovered two maps of the area created in 1598 (and the Youghal Town Council was understandably delighted). The maps are housed in the Dartmouth Collection at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Two maps within this collection of special interest to a southeast Cork historian are one centered on Inchiquin, a few kilometers west of Youghal, and the other centered on Kilwatermoy, a few kilometers north of Youghal. The maps show the towns, waterways, and woodlands of two areas of Walter Raleighs estate. They may be the only remaining cartographic representation of woodlands in the area. A narrative on the Inchiquin map says: The description of the castle and landes of Inshequin lying within 3 miles of Yohall on the west side therof; being a very good soyle for pasture The map is not easy to interpret but the waterways show some resemblance to those of today enabling the approximate location of these historic

PAGE 95

83 woodlands. A narrow strip of woodland lines a stream to the north of Clonard, which would be in todays Ballyvergan Marsh. The other main woodland on this map is in what appears to be the area now known as Finisk along the Womanagh River. The distorted nature of the map made a reconstruction of this woodland on a modern map enormously speculative, but the identification of the general area is appropriate enough for this study (I was not allowed to make reproductions of the maps in this document). The Kilwatermoy map encompasses a much greater area, over 20 kilometers diagonally from Templemichael northwest to Shean, both in the present Co. of Waterford, all to the north of Youghal. Surprisingly enough, some of the areas indicated as woodland are woodland today (but some are recent pine plantations) though the majority of the two largest tracts no longer exist. Not much of this area is yew habitat. Only a few areas along the River Bride, which runs through a Waulsortian Limestone valley, would possibly have held yew populations. These maps suggest that the area in the late 16 th century was more wooded than it is today. It probably wasnt long before these woods were cut down as ironworks began to dot the landscape in the 17 th century. These maps could have aided the proprietors in the location of woodland. A landscape transformed: The 17 th century Queen Elizabeth is known to be responsible for a major loss of woodland in Ireland, but in 1621 she forbade the cutting of timber within 14 miles of the sea (McCracken 1957). This, obviously, would have included any existing woods around Youghal. This law was most likely written to protect the future needs of her army because the woodlands were rapidly disappearing. Cunningham et al. (1998) note extensive woodland clearance at this time in Co. Kerry. An abrupt disappearance of

PAGE 96

84 willow, oak, ash, and alder occurred at c. 1600 A.D. A 1630 entry in the Calendar of State Papers of Ireland states: We have built a forge and furnace in the barony of Muskerry in Cork lying between the two rivers that run into the harbours of cork and kinsale. We have got the liberty of 20 miles of wood here, the largest wood that has survived in Ireland. The 17 th century marks a time of massive reduction of Irelands woods. The Boyle family ironworks in Co. Cork and Co. Waterford (directly east of Co. Cork) exported thousands of tons of iron between 1615 and 1640. Boyle had an exclusive contract in 1607 with a Mr. John Whitsone where he provided him with 100-200 tons of iron per year (Lismore Papers 1883). The Cork Guide states that Boyle used yew to feed his ironworks (cork-guide.ie/youghal.htm). This is the only time I have heard of yew being used to fuel ironworks and I have found no literature on its usefulness as such. In fact, Rector Marley remembers his father telling him that the yew gave off little heat and burned too slowly (Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, personal communication, January 30 th 2002). The Lismore Papers, a published version of Boyles diary, do not mention particular types of wood used to fuel his ironworks. Lismore Castle was Boyle property at the time and I suspect that he had a particular liking for yews. A Monks Walk was planted there in the 17 th century and plentiful old yews adorn the property today. These yews were noted in the Topographical Dictionary of Ireland in the 19 th century (Lewis 1837). The Guides suggestion could have been formulated simply from the handiness of the town being named after a yew wood, the fact that there arent any now, and that Boyles presence is associated with deforestation. However, if other wood had been selectively deforested over thousands of years of Celtic presence, yew woods could have

PAGE 97

85 been some of the wood left in the area. Boyle could have simply preserved the yews on his property for posteritys sake. By 1633 there was a shortage of wood for coal (Kearney 1953). According to McCracken (1957) there were 19 charcoal-burning ironworks in Co. Cork during the 17 th and 18 th centuries, one actually located in Youghal that opened in 1607. Thomas Dineleys 17 th century drawings of Youghal reveal barren hills behind the town (Shirley 1863). Irelands Naturalle History (Boate 1652) gives us significant clues about the perception and use of woodland during this time. He describes the remaining woods as a hindrance to cattle by keeping the sun from the land and hence keeping the moisture in. He explains that it was necessary to diminish the woods to deprive the theeves and rogues, who used to lurk in the woods in great numbers, of their refuge. He continues: Whole ship loads [of wood have been] sent into forrein countries yearly which brought great profit to the proprietaries, so the felling of so many thousands of trees every year as were employed that way, did make a great destruction of the Woods in tract of time. As for the Charcoal, it is incredible what quantity thereof is consumed by one Iron-work in a yearthe inhabitants do not onely want wood for firing but even timber for building (p121) The idea of Irelands culture changing as a result of the reign of James I was exemplified in Youghal in July 1644. This date marked the expulsion of the Irish and Catholic inhabitants of the town (Irwin 1980). Youghals Irish culture (and perhaps the regions yews) was at that point removed for the next several hundred years. Denudation to reforestation: Descriptions of Youghal in the 1700s and 1800s In 1749 Cooke describes the strand as delightful and four miles in length making no reference to any woods in the area (Day 1903). In the later 1770s eastern Cork was described as exhibiting a naked, bleak, dreary view for want of wood, which has been destroyed for a century past with the most thoughtless prodigality, and still

PAGE 98

86 continues to be cut and wasted as if it was not worth the preservation (Young 1925). A Frenchman came to Co. Cork in 1790 and noted a cart loaded with turf for the ironworks (Chinneide 1973). Perhaps there were no woods left to fuel them. The diaries of several visitors support this hypothesis. In 1809 Joseph Woods, an architect and botanist, described Cork as being naked having a few woody spots about Gentlemens houses: otherwise, I believe, there is not a tree in the country (Lyne and Mitchell 1985). His companion Lewis Dillwyn, another botanist, noted about Youghal that there were woods by the side of the road which leads to the sands about a mile from the town (Lyne 1986). These sands surely refer to the strand. He also noted the Mall area of Youghal was well planted with trees. There are no trees in either location today. This noted denudation was recognized by the administration. According to Bill Power, a local historian, there were around 16 Acts of Parliament passed by the Irish House of commons to plant trees beginning in 1721 (Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, personal communication, January 30 th 2002). These acts enabled tenants to own the rights to trees they planted. In order to ensure these rights, the tenants had to supply formal testimony that they had planted these trees. The trees, their owners, and their location were registered in a county book. The National Archives in Dublin housed 13 of these registries until a fire destroyed many of them some years ago. Four out of six of Co. Tipperarys were destroyed (and another has since gone missing) and three out of four of Co. Waterfords were destroyed. Luckily, all three for Co. Cork survived and were the subject of Eileen and Donald McCrackens (1976) article A register of trees, Co. Cork, 1790-1860. The original manuscript was inspected in hopes of finding thousands of yew trees planted in the area. An 1802 entry, very close to the beginning of the manuscript,

PAGE 99

87 announced 2,000 yew trees planted in Monkstown (west of Youghal). This entry sent me reeling into the rest of the volume to find, after reading seemingly thousands of entries, that Monkstown was the only entry for yew between 1790 and 1824. The McCrackens made a good point, saying that sometimes an entry simply said conifer which impeded more detailed analysis for several species. Only one entry was found for Youghal in the 1824-1834 registry where in 1832 David Walsh planted 1,502 alder and 883 fir. In all, 9.5 million trees were planted in Cork between 1790 and 1860 (McCracken and McCracken 1976). The feelings toward yews varied during the 19 th century. Windele, a Cork historian, dedicated 4 pages to the yew, discussing at length the Muckross Abbey yew in Killarney and the trees part in the place-names of Ireland (Coleman 1910). Smith (1893) focused on utilitarian and negative points. He mentioned the beauty of yew furniture and the poisonous quality of the yew tree being experienced by cattle eating of the branches some years ago, in the garden of Ballymacoda, (then held by Mr. Maurice Uniack) in this neighbourhood, after which they suddenly died. The poisonous nature of yew has been mentioned on several occasions, as was the concept of culture making way for economic gain. Both of these reflections should be considered in regards to cattle, the economic staple of the area in the mid 1840s. In the period 1821-25 national cattle exports averaged 47,000 head per annum; by 1835 they had more than doubled to 98,000 and continued to rise rapidly, reaching 202,000 per annum in the years 1846-49 (OBrien 1975). There would have been no room for poisonous yew trees on the commoners landscape. The yew did, however, find its place on the Gentlemans Estates. Tree

PAGE 100

88 planting was very much in vogue in the early nineteenth century not only among landlords but among well-off tenants also (O Murchadha 1986). Summary of the Local Analysis The landscape of Youghal was once home to ancient woodland that formed over 5,000 years ago amongst a freshwater ecosystem inland of the Atlantic Ocean. The populations of woodland taxa, inclusive of yew, fluctuated with time responding to the intricacies of climate. During the first millennium B.C. the woodlands experienced some scale of human interference but yew populations in the Youghal area were generally unaffected. The Celtic adoration of this tree likely guaranteed its survival. Yew was present in the area almost continuously until the first century A.D. when the information from the cores ceases. It is plausible that the early historical flood destroyed the yew woods for which the town was named, the local woodlands being submerged, a brackish environment created northward into the low lying land. The newly formed harbor town of Youghal with its navigable River Blackwater was an excellent base for several groups to exploit the interior. Eventually, Norman intolerance and banishment wiped the Irish culture from the area. Ironically, the walls of the town have an archers walk, and the tree that was natively revered was turned against them in the form of a weapon of war. Ironworks devastated the remaining woodlands to the point where authors often noted the paucity of trees. Reforestation came into vogue in the 18 th and 19 th centuries but it is difficult to tell how much yew was planted, as the county records are vague in terms of species. A 19 th century Co. Cork historian admiringly talked of the yews presence in historical times and the nobility of a particular yew in Co. Kerry. This mention suggests that there were no other old yews in Co. Cork to write about.

PAGE 101

89 Both regional and local analyses proved via palynological, archeological, archival, and toponymic evidence that the yew was a significant component of the Irish landscape and culture for thousands of years. This account of a species decline continues by looking at the cultural significance of yew in the 20 th and 21 st centuries, which complements the previous chapter on the historical reverence of the species. This information is followed by an inventory of yew on the contemporary landscape that surrounds the Youghal area thus complimenting this chapter, which revealed the abundance of yew from prehistory to the 19 th century. Figure 3-1. Pollen obtained directly from male flower. Drawing by author. Figure 3-2. Pollen after pollen concentration methods. Drawing by author.

PAGE 102

90 Figure 3-3. Locations of palynological investigations used to identify the presence of yew in the Holocene. Figure 3-4. Section of Mitchells (1990) pollen diagram from Reenadina Wood, Co. Kerry. Radiocarbon dates and depth are represented on the Y axis and amount of pollen is represented on the X axis. Note the spike of Taxus after c. 5500 BP.

PAGE 103

91 Figure 3-5. Portal tomb at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo. Photo by author Figure 3-6. Yew hedge at Lismore Castle Gardens, Co. Waterford. Photo by author.

PAGE 104

92 Table 3-1. The evolution of the spelling of Youghal from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Year Spelling Author 1571 Yowghall (Campion) 1571 Yough-halle (Hanmer) 1586 Yoghill (Hooker) 1610 Youghall (Speed) 1633 Youghall (OGrady) 1641 Youghall (Pickering) 1652 Youghall (Boate) 1750 Youghall (Smith) 1750 Youghal (unknown author) 1843 Youghal (Aldworth) 1861 Youghal (Gibson)

PAGE 105

93 Sandstone deposited 400 myaLimestone deposited 350 myaGeological formation at 300 Geological formation after Variscan Orogeny 290 LimestoneSandstoneLimestoneSandstone Geological formation after limestone is weathered Figure 3-7. The creation of limestone valleys found in southern Ireland through geologic time. Representation by author.

PAGE 106

94 Figure 3-8. The Youghal strand. Photo by author Figure 3-9. Peat on the strand after a storm removed the sand from the surface. Note the fossilized fallen tree just below center. Photo by author

PAGE 107

95 Figure 3-10. Map of relevant locations discussed in the chapter.

PAGE 108

Figure 3-11. Marsh core (MC) pollen data. 96

PAGE 109

Figure 3-12. Strand core (SC) pollen data 97

PAGE 110

CHAPTER 4 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE IN THE 20 TH AND 21 ST CENTURIES The following chapter explores the yews position within contemporary culture. Its organization is much like chapter 2 where differing cultural utilizations are arranged into categories. The report summarizes the employment of yew by the 20 th and 21 st century artist (the craftsman, novelist and poet) and scientist (the pharmacognosist, ecologist, and conservationist) as well as uncovers its potential future benefits to society. The Yew and the Contemporary Craftsman The list of contemporary furniture makers in England that use yew as a material is long. A few companies were chosen in order to reveal the range of yew furniture available: GT Rackstraw Ltd. in Worcestershire offers yew veneer sideboards, china cabinets, and tables; Bradley Cabinet Ltd. in Kent offers yew veneer coffee and lamp tables, bookshelves, cabinets, television stands, hall furniture, home office furniture, and sideboards; West of England Reproduction Furniture in Somerset offers four styles of crossbanded yew bureaus, four styles of yew bookcases, five computer associated pieces of furniture in yew, and one bon heur du jour in yew; Vin-Garde Design Furniture in Surrey offers 14 different desks in yew, nine different filing cabinets in yew, 11 different bookcases in yew, 10 styles of chair in yew, and numerous optional extras in yew. The Woodturning Reference and Information online site says yew wood is difficult to work with but straight grained examples turn well and a beautiful polished finish can be obtained (2002). The Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (2002) has a 98

PAGE 111

99 picture gallery that includes a beautiful yew tazza (a shallow vessel on a pedestal). Pictures of yew bowls, platters, and vases can be found by searching the galleries of woodturning internet sites. I have personally seen John McCarthys work at his home in Co. Cork, Ireland. The yew pieces are breathtaking. The woodturners get their yew wood from either bog yew, obtained from government sources, or estates that have felled a tree. Estates often ask top dollar for the wood. The Yews Infamous Role The yew is known for its poisonous properties. It was anciently used as a poison (Violotis 1986) and is infamous for killing cattle and occasionally horses that have eaten too much of its foliage (botanical.com and gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/livestock/horses/ facts/poison.htm mention these qualities and cattle poisoning events in the Youghal area are discussed later in the work). People have also died from ingesting the leaves (Feldman et al. 1987). Klein (1987) reported that consumption of the seeds causes dilated pupils and coma. Toxicologists at the Swiss Toxicological Information Center analyzed types, frequency, and severity of plant poisonings in Switzerland. T. baccata was responsible for one occurrence of tachyarrhythmia and one case of fatal asystole (Jaspersen-Schib et al. 1996). A method was created for detecting yew poisoning at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Surrey, England. The stomach contents of suspected yewpoisoned horses were analyzed for taxine alkaloids using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (Kite et al. 2000). The poisonous alkaloids cause cardiac myocytes resulting in heart failure (Wilson et al. 2001). This fatal quality along with its evergreen nature, red berries, and association with churchyards make it a suitable character for legends, poetry, and other fictional, and non-fictional, compositions.

PAGE 112

100 The Yew in 20 th and 21 st Century Literature The yews mystical characteristics have continued to be romanticized by authors of the recent centuries. Early 20 th century writings include Archie Randolph Ammons Night Chill, Phoebe Heskeths Yew Tree Guest House, James Joyces Finnegans Wake, David Herbert Lawrences The Yew-Tree on the Downs, Sylvia Plaths The Moon and the Yew Tree, and Jan Struthers Badgers. The Times (Times Newspapers Limited, London) index for the first half of the 20 th century indicated the yew as a noted landscape element. Seven articles included yew topics, several of which discussed the preservation or destruction of one tree or another. There are at least 8 contemporary books with yew in the title: Frank Balms The Enchanted Island of Yew, Anand Chetan and Diana Bruetons The Sacred Yew, Stephen Cosgroves Morgan and Yew, Hal Hartzells The Yew Tree: A Thousand Whispers, Andre Norton and Sasha Millers To the King a Daughter (The Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash,and Rowan) Books 1 and 2, Guido Mina di Sospiros The Story of Yew, and Mary Westmacotts Absent in the Spring: and Other Novels: Giants Bread / The Rose and the Yew Tree. Taxol and Cancer The yews association with life (its evergreen nature and winter fruit) and death (its poisonous qualities and association with churchyards) is far from baseless myth and fable. Taxoids, found in the yew tree, are diterpenoids found to treat ovarian cancer (Campbell and Nicholson 1995, Lavelle et al. 1995), breast and lung cancer (Lavelle et al. 1995), and Kaposis sarcoma (Alexander 2001). Taxol, also known as Paclitaxel, is extracted from the bark of the Pacific yew (T. brevifolia)(Lavelle et al. 1995). The compound 10-deacetyl-baccatin III is extracted from the needles of T. baccata for the synthesis of Docetaxel, also known as Taxotere (Lavelle et al. 1995). Extraction of this

PAGE 113

101 valuable chemotheraputic agent is costly and limited by the slow growth of the species. Environmentalists are concerned for Taxus populations because taxoids are in great demand and their complexity has precluded complete synthesis. In order to produce 2.5 kg of taxol, 27,000 tons of T. brevifolia bark are required and 12,000 trees must be cut down (Rates 2001). Their widespread use in the treatment of a variety of cancer types, their likely approval for the treatment of additional forms of cancer, and their use at earlier stages of intervention will lead to increased demand for these drugs in the future (Jennewein 2001). Herbal remedy companies are beginning to exploit these properties; Trimedica offers a product called Vital-Yew. Recent News A recent news story regarding the yew is that of a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today [June 4 th 2002] filed an antitrust lawsuit charging drug-maker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. with a fraudulent scheme to illegally maintain its monopoly over its costly and widely used anti-cancer drug, Taxol (Office of New York State Attorney General 2002). The Yews Natural Pesticide Another chemical trait of yew is its ability to resist pests. Woodturning literature often includes the fact that yew is resistant to woodworm. Daniewski et al. (1998) isolated two compounds from T. baccata which they feel are most responsible for resisting insects. These compounds have strong antifeedant capabilities against 3 major storage pests. Doss et al. (1997) also reported that T. baccata produces a natural insecticide. This chemical trait could lead to major advancements in synthesized pesticides.

PAGE 114

102 The Yew and Wastewater Treatment The yew has another unique trait. The ability of Taxus leaves to adsorb chromium occurs at a rate of 1.2 to 2 times that of activated carbons commonly used to extract chromium from industrial wastewater (Aoyama et al. 2000). Aoyamas preliminary work could lead to major advancements in wastewater treatment. Yew Wood and Dendrochronology The yew has yet another exceptional characteristic. The millennial-scale longevity of the yew is similar to that of the bristlecone pine, the dendrochronology of which has been used to date significant global climate events to calendrical years and provided an absolute standard for radiocarbon calibration. Yew dendrochronologies could potentially span thousands of years recording the North Atlantic Oscillation which is thought to work on a multidecadal scale and significantly influence global climates. The yew was previously regarded as useless for dendrochronology, however, yew sections were crossdated by the Aegean Dendrochronology Project (1997) and by A.K. Moir at London Guildhall University (1999). Wood used for dendrochronological analysis comes in many forms; beams or artifacts from archaeological finds, bog wood, cross sections from felled trees (called biscuits), and increment cores from living trees. The Aegean Project obtained yew from archaeological finds and crossmatched the data to dendrochronologies of other species. Peter Kuniholm of the Project calls the yew sections gorgeous and is impressed that they crossdate with pines as far west as Greece (2350 kms.), junipers as far east as Kyrgyzstan (2070 kms.), and pines in Cyprus to the southwest (1340 kms.) (Aegean Dendrochronology Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, personal communication, February 4 th 2001). The rings are dated 1526-1980 A.D. Moir (1999) created his 303 year dendrochronology from 14 complete cross sections of yew from Hampton Court

PAGE 115

103 Palace, London which were felled during garden reconstruction. Putting together lengthy chronologies (thousands of years) requires a tremendous amount of material. The above studies confirm that yew can be used in dendrochronology and that efforts to compile material may be beneficial to climatology. Dendrochronological information obtained from just one tree, however, can be enlightening to a small, local study by enabling the calculation of a trees age and also in identifying environmental stresses during its lifetime. This local analysis obviously necessitates the acquisition of increment cores if biscuits are not available. Mike Baillie, a leading dendrochronologist (who is suspicious about the usefulness of yew for dendrochronology), thought that live yew was next to impossible to core. He stated In our experience it is absolutely impossible to core yew trees with increment corers. The tree grips the corer and the person trying to get it in or out snaps it off (it is quite spectacular and expensive) (Palaeoecology Centre, Queens University, Belfast, personal communication, December 10 th 2001). Jonathan Pilcher agreed saying that to get a core more than 10 cm is a triumph (Palaeoecology Centre, Queens University, Belfast, personal communication, February 8 th 2002). They were quite surprised when I told them I had 12 cores from southern Ireland and would like to visit the lab and analyze them. One point was quite clear after obtaining these cores, the male yew is next to impossible to core. No literature on cellular differences between males and females was located but an early 20 th century book on archery sheds some light on the situation. Gordon (1939) says that the wood of a female tree is not good for bowmaking: The female doesnt dry as crisp as the male and is rubbery and requires more volume for a bow of equal poundage and shoots in listless flabby fashion. Increment core attempts

PAGE 116

104 also verified a difference in wood quality. Out of 30 attempts only 12 were successful and all but one of these were from female trees (one male tree was cored but not quite half of its radius was obtained). Seventeen out of 18 of the unsuccessful cores were attempted on males. Biodiversity in a Yew Forest A dark yew wood might appear scant of life at first, the large unruly trunks accompanied by nothing but ferns, holly seedlings, and some herbs on the woodland floor. A closer look (and listen) reveals a rich avian, arachnid, bryophyte, and fungal biodiversity (Figure 4-1). The avian diversity of yew woods has been documented by Batten (1976) and Tittensor (1980). Mammals in yew woods have been documented by Watts (1926), Tittensor (1980), Hulme (1996), and Garcia et al. (2000). Epiphytes were documented by Kelly (1981). A fairly unique yew resident is Taxomyia taxi, a small cecidomyiid fly (Milner 1992). The yew obviously supplies microhabitats for many organisms. A yew wood biodiversity project is being considered as it would contribute to a better understanding of the species and may aid conservation efforts. Genetic Variation Studies The discovery of Taxol as an antitumor drug along with the concern of Taxus becoming endangered or extinct, has sparked an interest in the genetic diversity of existing populations (El-Kassaby and Yanchuk 2001, Svenning and Magard 1998, Lewandowski et al. 1995). Macrofossils could be used to compare the genetic diversity of past populations to those of today. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that all macrofossil finds be recorded, and their dates of existence established, for possible further study.

PAGE 117

105 Yew Conservation David Bellamy and the Conservation Foundation (CF) are attempting to catalogue historical yews in Ireland in order to protect them. A database of T. baccata locations in England was developed by David Bellamy after an article was published asking for details of ancient yews. The public response was enormous (Chetan and Brueton 1994). The result was a survey, numbering, and tagging of all historically significant yews in England. A newspaper article on my research in Youghal was published in the Cork Examiner. I received numerous letters of response and feel that if my address had been printed correctly I would have received many more letters. The amount of public interest for a project like Bellamys thus seems to be adequate, at least in Co. Cork. Irish attempts at yew conservation are limited to protection on estates and in churchyards and a few Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). SACs in Ireland are the result of the government working with the Habitats Directive, a European Community council that is establishing a network of protected sites called the Natura 2000 network. In 1999 the governments chosen sites did not adequately protect the habitats and species listed by the Directive. At this point five Irish non-governmental environmental organizations (NGOs) coordinated to propose that additional sites be added to the network. Taxus baccata Woods are one of the Directives priority habitats. In Ireland, two yew wood sites have been successfully transmitted to the Natura 2000 network by the government and two additional sites have been proposed by the NGOs. As a result of this research, the Irish Native Woodland Trust is suggesting that an additional yew wood site be included in the NGOs proposed SAC list. This site is discussed in detail in the next chapter.

PAGE 118

106 Miscellaneous Yew Happenings The interest in yew is growing: The British Columbia Ministry of Forests has initiated ecological studies of Taxus brevifolia Nutt (for.gov.bc.ca). Violitis (1986) proposed preservation of T. baccata in the Greek/Balkan areas. The Trinity College Dublin Pharmacy (TCD Pharmacy) started 3 research projects on Taxus baccata compounds in the early to mid 1990s. Yews for the Millennium, another project of the CF, was responsible for giving 7,000 infant yews (taken from cuttings of historic trees) to parishes across Britain (Smith 2000). Further evidence that the interest in yew is being rekindled can be found in the Spring 2002 edition of Releafing Ireland in which Ben Simon of Forest of Belfast reports on the association of yews with churchyards. The same edition has a brief description of T. baccata, an article on David Bellamys attempts, a review of The Story of Yew (Guido Mina di Sospiros newest book which is selling out in the U.K. and Ireland), a write up on Andy McGeeney (a yew photographer), and an excerpt on taxol. Summary The recent reverence for yew is different than that of ancient cultures. The concept of respecting and honoring a natural element for its benefits to society is relatively non-existent in contemporary cultures. The yew, however, still retains a position in the ideological and technological landscape. It is used as a material for furniture makers and woodturners. Solid yew and yew veneer furniture of all types is available for purchase in England. Woodturners use yew wood to make stunning works of art. The species retains a certain amount of nostalgia evident in England and Ireland via its place in literature. Twentieth century poets and essayists utilized its mystical properties in their prose. There are at least eight books currently available with yew in their title. Two people have

PAGE 119

107 successfully used yew wood in dendrochronologies. Another significant contribution of the yew to society is its various chemical constituents, which provide molecular blueprints for the synthesis of cancer medicine and pesticides and may also contribute to advances in wastewater treatment. The medicinal attention has resulted in the increased interest of ecologists, conservationists, and the general public. Figure 4-1. Mushrooms growing on yew trees. Photo on left (a) taken at Glengarra Wood. Photo on right (b) taken at Fota (mushroom is growing in tree-forming scar).

PAGE 120

CHAPTER 5 THE YEW TREE ON THE CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE Introduction Chapter 3 explored the prehistoric and historic presence of yew in Ireland and the Youghal area using palynological and archival data. The research now moves to the identification of yew on the contemporary landscape in order to determine its niche within the human landscape, add to the understanding of its population dynamics, catalogue its present abundance, and make predictions for its future. The survey is generally confined to churchyards and woodlands within a triangular area with Youghal being at one corner and the adjacent legs extending north to Lismore (along the River Blackwater) and west toward Cork City (along the coastline)(Figure 5-1). The delineation of this area was a result of outward daily excursions from Youghal. The area incorporates several major towns historically linked with Youghal and parts of several east-west trending limestone valleys to the north. The survey is not restricted simply to presence/absence but rather reports a variety of physical data, scientific conclusions, archeological information, and the overall aesthetics of each location. There are sections of unempirical discussion, as many of these sites impress an enigmatic air that is difficult to ignore. The survey is preceded by a materials and methods section as well as an overview of problems experienced when calculating tree ages. A discussion of the trees regeneration methods is also included in order for the reader to understand the extent of human interference and the precarious situation of many yews. The survey is organized 108

PAGE 121

109 into three sections; yews in Youghal, yews at ecclesiastical sites, and yew woods. A summary of this account wraps up the chapter. Materials and Methods The search for yews began in churchyards. The 1:25,000 OS maps of Ireland include point data for archeological sites, churchyards, and cemeteries, and area data for woodlands. Ecclesiastical locations on OS maps were circled for investigation. Eighty-four abandoned and operational churchyards and graveyards in Counties Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, and Tipperary were visited in search of yew trees. This research was complemented by the search of many woodlands seen from the road. Upon locating a tree, the surroundings were summarized and data collected. The location was catalogued using a Garmin 12 GPS receiver. Basal and breast-height girth measurements were taken with a wax covered seamstress tape. The common measurement for breast height in forestry is 54 inches. A problem arises with this standard. The yew tends to branch low to the ground thus a lower breast height, 48 inches, was used during this research. The presence of reproductive material was noted for sex determination. The condition of the canopy and evidence of human interference were also noted. Increment cores were taken from 12 trees with a 20 Haglof Increment Borer. The cores were taken to the Palaeoecology Centre in Belfast for ring counting. Post field work, Powers (1992-1997) archeological inventories were referenced in order to identify the history of the site. The mid 19 th century OS maps were consulted in some cases in order to ascertain the historical condition of the site. Appendix D contains specific geographic coordinates, sex, and breast and base circumference information of many of the trees. Increment core data is available from the author upon request. All distances given in the following pages are direct.

PAGE 122

110 Estimating the Age of Yew Trees The yews unique growth pattern makes age determination problematic. Even when a tree is cut down and an entire biscuit is obtained for ring counting, the number of rings may be remarkably different on either side of the tree. The first year of growth is repeatedly off-center. The rings twist and bend and seedlings grow together. It is often difficult to tell if you are observing one tree or several (Figure 5-2). Another problem is when yews attain great age they often hollow (Figure 5-3). The ages of many famous European yews are unknown. Almost every piece of literature that mentions the Fortingall yew has a different age estimate (dates range from 2,000 to 7,000 years old). Ages can sometimes be determined from archival information. One tree in Wales is considered to be 375 years old. This estimate was made not by getting an increment core but by reading an epitaph on a tombstone below the tree: Here lyeth y body of Richard Jones of Moysgwin, gent, who was interred December y 10 th 1707, aged 90. Under this yew tree buried would hee bee, for his father and hee planted this yew-tree (Ramage 1871 p443). The article goes on to estimate that Richard Jones planted the tree with his father as a boy at the age of 10 (1627 A.D.). This would make the tree 80 upon Richards death. This makes the tree about 375 years old today. It would be beneficial to measure its present girth, if it is still there, and compare it to its 10 girth of 1871. The physical data includes age estimates of a number of the yews. The estimates were obtained from either Milners (1992) growth rate (1.1 cm per year) or the increment cores discussed in the last chapter. It is not known whether the yew actually develops a growth ring every year, they are known to slow their growth rates tremendously in times of stress. Ghost rings are common in the obtained increment cores. Ghost rings are a very light growth ring making it difficult to estimate whether it is a true annual growth ring or

PAGE 123

111 whether the tree just slowed its growth for a time. Many of the trees had numerous ghost rings thus this method could cause an underestimation of the minimum age of the tree by, in some instances, up to 19 years. In several instances ages determined by multiplying the girth with the growth rate constant do not match the age determined from ring counts. Baillie suspects that estimation from the growth rate may tremendously overestimate a yews age (Palaeoecology Centre, Belfast, Ireland, personal communication, February 5th, 2002). Chetan and Brueton (1994) report a study whereby ring counts compared to the known ages of two yews underestimated their age by 200 and 650 years. Neither the ring counts nor the ages determined from girth are considered definite. Vegetative Regeneration and Tree-Forming Yews naturally branch close to the ground. Limbs are used for support and are also a source of regeneration. Limbs may run horizontal and sprout vertical branches or dip into the ground and reappear forming a seemingly separate tree. Allen Meredith refers to this process as layering (Chetan and Brueton 1994). The original tree may die while the sucker, or layer, will live. Chetan and Brueton (1994) note this regeneration behavior at Langley Park in Buckinghamshire, England. This process can also be seen in Ireland at the edge of Glengarra Wood in Co. Waterford, at Fota in Co. Cork, and at Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry. It is difficult to assess the extent of this kind of regeneration without digging up current woods. This method of regeneration is extensively stunted by human interference. Tree-forming (Bugala 1975) or cutting all erratic lower limbs, forcing the tree to grow vertically, is evident even in the deepest parts of contemporary yew woods. At Fota Island in Co. Cork, trees are scarred up to 20 feet up the trunk, insinuating that tree-forming has been practiced for hundreds of years. When limbs are

PAGE 124

112 removed the tree will scar over forming a crevice. See figures 5-4 and 5-5 for examples of tree-forming and resulting scars (additional pictures are provided later in the chapter). One potentially fatal case of tree-forming is that of the Oughterard yew at Aughnanure Castle in Co. Galway. The trees horizontal trunk is trying to send shoots into the ground below, evidently for support (it is growing out of a vertical limestone wall). It bears many scars where near-ground-reaching limbs have been cut. This female yew appears to be under stress as its fruit is scarce and sour. I predict that this tree, said to be 1,000 years old, will soon fall. This case of human interference could result in the loss of a local historical icon (the towns name translates to field of the yew trees and this relic specimen is boasted of in the Castles flyer). Other cases of tree-forming are mentioned throughout the chapter. The Yew Trees of Youghal The Yews of Myrtle Grove A print of a c.1850 woodcut survives in an old printing office in Youghal (Figure 5-6). The print shows several yew trunks, their canopies creating a roof over a chair with a framed picture of Walter Raleigh at its legs. A footnote on the woodcut says: The yew tree under which Sir Walter Ralegh smoked the first pipe of tobacco in Ireland. 16 th century. This tree is still in Myrtle Grove, Youghal (W.G. Field Printers 2001). The romantic idea of this tree still surviving led me to pursue permission to enter the Myrtle Grove Estate at the northeast end of town. The mansion and grounds (once owned by Walter Raleigh) are now private property and worries of costly insurance stop the owners from allowing the public to see the fantastic estate. I received permission and the pursuit of this endeavor led me to the only substantial population of yews left in Youghal today. Four male yews stand in a square at the front of the mansion with one female yew off to

PAGE 125

113 the side of the square. Behind the house are two more yews (one male and one female). The trees that make the square have breast girths of 3.32, 2.80, 2.61, and 1.78 meters. Using Milners (1992) growth rate of 1.1 cm per year, these trees are between 196 and 365 years old. These trees are said to be the ones in the woodcut making them over 400 years old. A few scenarios come to mind. Four trees could have been planted within the date range above, one dying and replaced at a later date. Or perhaps, the smaller tree was a subsequent addition to a 16 th century group of three. Close examination of the woodcut shows 3 yew trunks. Perhaps the three larger extant trees are the ones depicted, after all, yew growth rate is known for tremendous variation. The woodcut depicts the trees as short, their canopy blending together in one mass. All four trees today are tall and straight. One theory is that the three yews were subsequently tree-formed forcing them to grow straight and interfering with their growth rate. Someone could have visualized and enacted upon making the three into a neat square of four. It is interesting that all of the trees are males. Perhaps the three large males are parts of one tree as the excerpt on the woodcut states. The most remarkable arboreal feature on this estate, however, is not the yew square in front of the house. It is a yew row just outside the town walls on the north side of the property. Sixty-five yews were planted here in a long row parallel to the town walls. Four of the trees are dead and there are gaps in the row indicating that some have died and been removed in the past. Increment cores were taken of two trees in the yew row. The cores suggest the trees are a minimum of 60 years old. At the foot of this yew row stands a male and a female yew side by side. Their branches are wrapped around each other like humans embracing (Figure 5-7). This is fitting as next to them lay the tombs of Sir Henry

PAGE 126

114 Arthur Blake and his wife Edith. Sir Blake was a Knight of the Grand Cross and governed Newfoundland, Jamaica, Hong Kong, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Sir Blake died in 1918, his wife died in 1926. These yews could have been planted as a memorial to this couple, the male and female yews to their side a living symbol of their memory. The canopies of these trees appear healthy, the undergrowth scant and dark for want of light (Figures 5-8 and 5-9). A walk down this yew row is spooky, awe-inspiring. A ditch runs the entire length presumably to facilitate drainage around these formerly tended trees. Further inquiries are being made of the present owners of the estate regarding the planting and purpose of this stunning yew row. Neither the 1877 or the 1902 OS maps of Youghal show the row of yew trees outside the town walls but the 1877 map does show the four trees that make the square in front of the house. The Yews of St. Marys Church of Ireland The graveyard at St. Marys Church is reputed to be haunted. The property is situated on a hill with the town walls behind it and a grand view of Youghal Harbour to the east. A large female yew stands on the hill. An increment core was taken but her annual rings twist and bend and the center ring was not obtained. The core contained 130 rings, but without the center there is no way of knowing how much growth was missed. Her girth is 2.9 m. Using Milners (1992) growth rate of 1.1 cm per year her age is 319. Her size is much less than the famous ancient yews of England, but her stature commands the respect of an ancient tree. She stands 13 m tall and her foliage creates a wide and dense crown riddled with vines. There is a mystical sense about this Queen of St. Marys Graveyard that makes her feel much older than her counterparts in Myrtle Grove.

PAGE 127

115 Her beauty and situation is captured in a photo taken from atop the town walls on a foggy morning (Figure 5-10). Another female yew lives by the Church at the bottom of the hill, just inside the town walls. Her girth is 1.28 m. A growth rate of 1.1 cm per year makes her 141 years old, however, a complete increment core (complete meaning the center and outer rings were obtained) revealed 36 clear rings. We have already seen the possibility of overestimation and underestimation of yew ages within the first few pages of the analysis. The 1877 OS map shows a mixture of conifers and deciduous trees in the graveyard but does not make any further distinction. These two females appear healthy, their fruit sweet and numerous in their season. The Yew at Molana Abbey Just to the north of the town of Youghal, along the River Blackwater, are the ancient foundations of Molana Abbey constructed for St. Molanfide in 501 A.D. The land is privately owned but the property is open to visitors a few days a week for a few months a year. A female yew with a girth of just less than 2 m sits in front of the ruin. Her girth suggests she is over 200 years old. It is obvious that the tree has been maintained throughout the years. The trunk is straight and smooth and despite the obvious human interference the tree appears healthy. Her foliage reaches down almost touching the ground providing a large circle of shade. The ancient ruin, the River Blackwater, the song of many birds, and the female yew weighted down with fruit, create a picturesque and tranquil autumn scene. Her presence at this ancient ecclesiastical site is fitting when one considers the role of yews in the history of the region.

PAGE 128

116 Yews at Other Ecclesiastical Sites Until now we have only considered the common yew. A variation known as the Irish yew (T. baccata var. fastigiata) was discovered in Co. Fermanagh in the 18 th century. This variation, a juvenile form of the common yew, was propagated at Florencecourt Estate in the same county. It became a popular garden tree in the 19 th century. All Irish yews are descendents of one tree at Florencecourt, and to my knowledge all are females. This variation has darker and more compact foliage than the common yew (Figure 5-11). Multiple small stems form its trunk and it grows in a vertical fashion. They do not branch horizontally like their genetic parent. Though the common yew is the object of this research, the presence of Irish yews is noted in order to ascertain a figure regarding the occurrence of the genus Taxus in churchyards (this is discussed at the end of the section). Sixteen sites within the study area had common yews. We have already discussed two of these locations (St. Marys Church and Molana Abbey). The remaining sites are discussed below. Three sites had multiple yews; Castlemartyr, Lismore, and Dungarvan. The remaining 11 sites contained one or two yews; Aglish, Ballincollig, Barnane, Churchtown, Kilcockan, Kilwatermoy, Leap, Mackeys Cross, Screhanero, Timoleague, and Aghada Upper. The geographic coordinates of the locations and the girths of many of these yews are documented in Appendix D. Refer to figures 5-12 and 5-13 for site locations. The Carmelite Monastery of Castlemartyr Castlemartyr is a town in the Cork Youghal valley 15 km west of Youghal. The town is rich in 16 th and 17 th century political and ecclesiastical history and is home to several archaeological sites. Just inside the entrance to the Carmelite Monastery at the

PAGE 129

117 west end of town lives 12 tall yew trees. Only one was positively sexed (female), as the foliage is so high as to be unreachable by hand. Davison (2001) claims the yew can reach heights of 15 m but the average height of yews in the authors experience is about 11 m. These yews stand over 20 m tall. They may, however, be in jeopardy. The yew has an ability to continue to grow even when it has fallen. It simply sends shoots skyward and may eventually grow into what appears to be multiple trees. Humans often remove fallen trees, especially if it is in a garden like surrounding. A tree recently fell at Castlemartyr and was evidently cut up, most of the trunk being removed. This tree did not get the chance to regenerate in this manner. This situation resulted in the acquisition of a full round of trunk for ring counting. This tree had a base circumference of 1.67 m. The first year of growth was off-center in the round and individual ring widths varied from one side of the tree to another. Two ring counts were taken (from opposite sides of the round). One side had 183 rings and the other side had 170. Using the 1.1 cm per year growth rate its age would be 184 years. Three yews were increment cored on this site. Only one contained the center ring. This tree had a circumference of 1.04 m and 99 clear rings were counted suggesting a growth rate of 1.05 cm per year. The two other increment cores (no center ring) contained 157 and 149 rings. Using their neighbors growth rate and their respective circumferences (2.48 m and 1.56 m) the trees have ages of c. 260 and 172 years. This small population has a girth range from .7 2.48 m suggesting an age range of 73-260 years. All of the trunks are straight and have no lower branches. It appears that this area of the gardens was once managed and is now relatively left to natures will. It is interesting that several of the trees are leaning and appear ready to fall over. The height of these trees along with the lower branches being historically removed may be the

PAGE 130

118 problem. There are numerous stories of yews falling over. Experts relate the problem to human management hindering the trees natural buttressing process. Lismore Cemetery Lismore is about 20 km north of Youghal. It lies in an east-west trending limestone valley that runs parallel to the Cork-Youghal limestone valley. Two adjacent cemeteries on the east side of town had, or have, yews on the grounds. One cemetery is abandoned. A double row of yews once lined its central walkway, the only remnants being decaying stumps. Immediately to the east is the Lismore Famine Cemetery. A magnificent double row of yews lines the walkway all the way to the back of the grounds (Figure 5-14). Originally the site was a mass grave for famine victims. This mass grave is off to the right of the picture where there are several more yews. There are 40 yews on the site. This Monks Walk (the two parallel rows forming a walkway) is unique for several reasons. Previous to this site, no yew rows had shown order in terms of gender, such as every other being a female, or all males etc. The yews do not outwardly reveal their sex until they are quite large, obtaining maturity at c. 70 years. There might be a preference if this were not the case (the females can be quite messy during fruiting season). This row shows order. The first six, three on each side, are males. The second set of six are females. The girths of this set of 12 trees range from 2.7 2.9 m, thus the trees could be older than 300 years old (an inquiry has been made to the town council). This yew walk is also unique because the second half of the row was planted at a later date. It appears that 20 more trees, 10 to a side, were added to the row when the back of the graveyard was extended. The girths of these yews are all under 1.4 m suggesting a plant date of c. 150 years ago. There was no notable order in terms of sex as many of these trees did not bear reproductive material at the time of observation.

PAGE 131

119 St. Michael and St. Davids Church of Dungarvan The Dungarvan of which I speak is not the famous Dungarvan in Co. Waterford but the smaller Dungarvan of Co. Kilkenny on the N9 Primary Road. The location is east of the general survey area but is unique because of the presence of a common yew row next to a Norman church ruin. There are eight females and two males in a single row along the ruins encompassing stone wall. No measurements were taken during the visit. A new Catholic church, St. Michael and St. Davids stands in front of the ruin. The locals say the grounds are anciently religious but no one knew when the yews were planted (Figure 5-15). Aglish Cemetery Aglish Cemetery (in use today) is west of Lismore in Co. Waterford, 22 km north west of Youghal. A stout female yew resides here with a girth of 2.65 m and a height of 12.5 m. The graveyard is rectangular with a stone wall marking its boundaries. There is no evidence of a former church and Power (1997) claims there to be no known ecclesiastical connection. Five Irish yews are also in the graveyard. These yews poisoned 12 cattle in 1977 when they entered the yard through an open gate (Patrick Barry, Aglish, Co. Waterford, personal communication, October 17 th 2001). Using the growth rate of 1.1 cm per year, her girth suggests an age of about 300 years, but only 80 clear rings and five ghost rings were counted in a complete increment core. This is an interesting situation that merits further investigation. Perhaps interviewing the local population will reveal the age of the tree hence shedding some light on the growth rate dilemma.

PAGE 132

120 Ballincollig Military Cemetery The Ballincollig yew was found via a phone call from a historically minded citizen of the area, Pat Cosgrove. This female yew with a girth of 2.96 m, resides in the Protestant British Military Cemetery by the Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mill just west of Cork City. She has a large canopy but her trunk was recently, and historically, tree-formed. An interesting concept was brought to my attention at this site. The reason for the significant human interference may not be solely for geometric aesthetics and a garden like landscape, but for worries of visitor injury and liability issues. This yew may be safe from human interference for now as the cemetery is closed to the public and the tree is surrounded by a tall, thick, stone mason wall. The presence of this large yew may indicate that the site is older than its late 19 th century association. The oldest headstone dates to 1813 but a local project is in the works to obtain a better idea of its antiquity (Pat Cosgrove, Ballincollig, Co. Cork, personal communication, September 20 th 2001). The Ancient Barnane Church and Graveyard The ruin at Barnane in Co. Tipperary is said to be the site of the oldest church in Ireland (Michael Johnson, Barnane, Co. Tipperary, personal communication, September 28 th 2001). The earliest written record of the area was in 1364 (Tipperary County Council, Date Unknown). The ruin sits away from the main road and it took a keen eye to spot the unique green hue of the yews foliage (Figure 5-16). The yew resides on the north side of the property but the site is heavily overgrown with nettle and bramble thus measurements were not taken. The ruins are unique not only for their antiquity but for the fosse that surrounds the property. A fosse is a ditch that the Council says was constructed to prevent cattle entering the site. Fosses are known in Ireland to mark ancient land

PAGE 133

121 boundaries and its presence supports the antiquity of the site. Fosses are also found at an ancient ruin at Castlemartyr and at Glengarra Wood (mentioned later in the chapter). The Churchtown Ruin and Graveyard Churchtown is a small area on the north side of the N25 Primary Road 19 km west of Youghal just to the east of the main town of Midleton. The old graveyard is home to a female yew with a girth of 2 m. Her girth may suggest an age of several hundred years and the site is considered ancient. Power (1997) reported this as the location of the late Medieval parish church of Inchinabrackey. The earliest marked tomb is from the mid 18 th century. The four walls surrounding the graveyard and church ruin are lined with tall Irish yews. An interesting yew grows at the front of the property. It appears to be a cross between a common and an Irish yew. The Kilcockan Ruin and Graveyard The scene at Kilcockan graveyard, less than 6 km north of Molana Abbey, is that of a typical haunted graveyard. Ferns and grass grow between toppled graves and an empty stone vault-like chamber lies next to a ruinous church. Power (1997) reports that the church was in ruin by 1372 but that the graveyard was still in good repair at the end of the 16 th century. This site is home to numerous Irish yews. The very back of the graveyard, approachable from the field beyond, houses a special common yew. It is a male/female graft accompanied by three tiny juvenile yews. It is the only ecclesiastical site in the investigation where yew is regenerating. The base of the grafted adult has a girth of 1.1 m. It stands c. 7.5 m tall. The juveniles are 24, 59, and 67 cm tall. Michael and Betty Morrisey, the couple that owns the land around the graveyard, would not appreciate this news. In 1975 they lost 19 cattle as a result of yew poisoning when their

PAGE 134

122 livestock broke through the graveyard enclosure (Betty Morrisey, Kilcockan, Co. Waterford, personal communication, August 7 th 2001). The Kilwatermoy Church Ruin and Graveyard Kilwatermoy is 6 km northwest of Kilcockan. The overgrown, walled graveyard is impossible to enter and the ruins can hardly be seen. Power (1997) reported that the church was in ruin in 1405. He states that this religious ground is of possibly early origin and that nearby is a venerated Souterrain site. A male yew on the west side of the property can barely be seen from the road and can only be approached from the adjacent field. He has a base circumference of 1.17 m and is 9.3 m tall. This yew was the only male which provided an increment core, though only 16 centimeters were obtained before the wood gripped the corer badly enough to abort the mission. There were 45 rings within the 16 cm core. With a radius of 18.6 cm, the number of rings can be forecasted at 51. The number of rings is less than half of the calculation obtained from the growth rate estimate (129 years). The Leap Church Ruin and Graveyard The story of the Leap yews (pronounced Lep) is one of a close call. The Leap Protestant churchyard in west Co. Cork is surrounded by a unique slate wall and is positioned on a hill overlooking the ocean. There are four common yews in the churchyard situated roughly in a line. Several years ago planning permission was granted to build an meter lattice work communications tower in the old churchyard. Concerns for the yews, the old slate wall, and the ruinous church were published in a 1997 online newsletter by Environment Watch Ireland. The construction plans were obviously altered as the tower presently stands just outside the walls. The old graveyard is intact and the yew trees safe within. The largest girth is 1.25 m. The yews are stunted

PAGE 135

123 and their foliage is browned. They may be much older than their girth suggests, as they are exposed to an almost continuous salty breeze. The Cemetery at Mackeys Cross Mackeys Cross, in central Co. Cork, is home to a graveyard situated on a steep slope overlooking the Lee River valley. The hillside provides a breathtaking view on a clear day. Two common yews are found on the grounds, the largest, a female, is 1.89 m in girth. Power (1997) notes this graveyard as unusual as its stone wall is subrectangular in outline. At one point the location, also called Mountdesert, had an operational church but it is presently used as a graveyard. The oldest grave is from the late 18 th century. The picture below is the larger female yew accompanied by two smaller Irish yews (Figure 5-17). Screhanero Graveyard There are two common yews at Screhanero graveyard just north of Kinsale in Co. Cork. Power (1997) cites Bradys mid 19 th century discovery that this was the site of the ancient parish church of Clontead. The two living yews are at either end of one of the walls, which, judging by a worn plaque at the entrance, were built in 1783. There are stumps somewhat evenly spaced between these yews and it is suspected that there was once a yew row. No measurements were taken during the visit. The Catholic Churches of Timoleague and Aghada Upper The last extended mentions of churchyard yews regard those at Timoleague (southwest of Kinsale, out of the general study area) and Aghada Upper (28 km southwest of Youghal). The new Catholic Church at Timoleague has one little gangly yew in a basket along the driveway. The new Catholic Church at Aghada Upper has a young yew planted in a narrow band of unpaved earth in the parking lot. No other new

PAGE 136

124 churches investigated during the research had yews on their property. The positioning of these two yews is unlike the ancient positions afforded by yews in the past. The north side of the church is the original position of the yew and that it was deliberately planted there, as one of the strongest protections against evil (Chetan and Brueton 1994). Discussion of Yews Found on Ecclesiastical Sites Similarities Among Solitary Churchyard Yews The individual churchyard yews that were measured fell into two girth categories, those over 2.5 m and those under 2.0 m. The largest individual yews on ecclesiastical grounds in the area are those at St. Marys Church, Ballincollig, and Aglish. All are females with girths between 2.6 and 3.0 m. Other solitary yews on ecclesiastical grounds (St. Marys Church, Kilwatermoy, Molana, Churchtown, and Mackeys Cross) have smaller girths between 1.2 and 2.0 m. All are females except the male at Kilwatermoy (which is also the smallest tree). The presence of the smaller individual yews could be the result of a renewal of churchyard planting in the 19 th century. Perhaps there was a paucity of churchyard yews as a result of the strife of the previous centuries and the general 19 th century interest in reforestation included a reinvention of the ancient concept. Using Milners (1992) growth rate of 1.1 cm per year, the smaller trees would have been planted between 1782 and 1873. These dates coincide rather nicely with the dates of the Co. Cork tree registers (1790-1860) when tree planting became en vogue. The girths of the three larger churchyard yews suggest that they are between 291 and 326 years old, planted somewhere between the years 1676 and 1711. It is possible that these presumably older yews mark ancient sites though the antiquity of Aglish and Ballincollig are unknown. Another idea is that the situation of the larger trees (on well-drained soil with

PAGE 137

125 plentiful sunlight and protected from browsing) could have aided in above average growth rates introducing the possibility of planting dates similar to the smaller trees. Religious Affiliation Yews are found on both Catholic and Protestant sites. It is difficult to say whether yews at Protestant locations were more or less likely to be protected from historical pilferers. It has already been stated that internecine strife resulted in the burning of sacred yews so it is easy to imagine Protestant sites being targets of later centuries. It is interesting enough to note, however, that the yews within the town of Youghal only exist on Protestant properties and two of the three largest yews on ecclesiastical sites in the area are on Protestant property. In regards to the Youghal yews, the yews of St. Marys Church are on the Protestant grounds of the Church of Ireland and Protestant families have historically owned Myrtle Grove. In regards to the areas largest yews, one is on Church of Ireland grounds, another on the grounds of a Protestant Military Cemetery. An inquiry is underway regarding the property at Aglish where the third large yew resides. A gentleman at Carrigrohane Castle, Co. Cork, an Estate with many common yews, stated that Protestant Churches were the places to look for old yews (Groundskeeper, Carrigrohane Castle, Co. Cork, personal communication, September 20 th 2001). Additional research may reveal some of the Catholic churches presently containing century old yews, may have been Protestant at one point. Dungarvan is one example where the old Norman ruin with its yews was transformed into a Catholic site. Table 5-3 includes data from 23 researched sites with common yews (this table contains a few sites out of the study area as well as a few places mentioned later in the text). The table shows 18 out of 23, or 78%, of these locations are Protestant sites or were at one time or another. This percentage could be an underestimation as the religious affiliation of four of

PAGE 138

126 the sites is unknown. Only one site is purely affiliated with the Catholic Church, and it is a relatively new building. Fosses, Stone Walls, and Cattle Poisoning A similarity amongst many of the ecclesiastical properties containing yews is the presence of an encompassing stone wall. Cattle restraint is likely the reason for functional barriers. It is known that cattle, along with yews, have been part of the Irish landscape for thousands of years. It is likely that the fosses associated with ancient land boundaries had a similar purpose to stone walls. These types of barriers are present at 19 of the 23 sites (83%) discussed in this chapter. Fosses are distinctively present at two of these sites and vaguely present at another. This type of structure could historically have existed at some of the other locations. In terms of walled sites and cattle poisoning, the Dungarvan yews are unique as they are on the outside of the wall that encompasses the Norman ruin. This site is in the middle of a historically urban area thus the trees could have been planted without fear of cattle poisoning The four sites without encircling structures are not exposed to cattle intrusion due to their position within residential areas or on estates. In terms of cattle poisoning, of the four poisonings discovered (listed in table 5-4), three of them occurred during the 1970s. The poisonings significantly affected the livelihood of the cattle owners. This produced such an immense fear of yew poisoning that livestock owners will cut down any yew they see on their property (William Kearney, Mt. Uniacke, Co. Cork, personal communication, August 7 th 2001). The Irish yews at Mocollop (which translates to Magh-collops or plain of the cattle) were responsible for poisoning a bull a few years ago as their foliage extended beyond the wall (Jimmy Whalen, Mocollop, Co. Waterford, personal communication, August 25 th 2001). The result of this poisoning was the removal of the yews close to the wall. The wood was

PAGE 139

127 taken by a man from Cork to be seasoned for three years and then used for woodwork. It is uncertain whether the trees that were felled were common or Irish yew, Mr. Whalen thought they were the same as the others but the stumps resemble common yew and the growth habit of Irish yew would render it fairly useless for woodturning. A search for occurrences of cattle poisoning prior to the 1970s produced no results. Dr. Lee, a veterinarian from Lismore, stated that before the three major poisonings of the 1970s, owners were probably afraid to report that their cattle had trampled upon religious ground. He also stated that in his years as a veterinarian (1953-1993) only two cases of yew poisoning were reported to him (Kilcockan and Aglish) (Lismore, Co. Waterford, personal communication, September 12 th 2001). Yew Rows, Monks Walks, and Other Noteworthy Yews Just east of the ancient Barnane ruin in Co. Tipperary, is the Broomall Estate. In front of the mansion is a row of tremendous Irish yews planted in 1865 (Lavina Broomall, Broomall Estate, Co. Tipperary, personal communication, September 28 th 2001). The western border of the mansion lot is wooded. Hidden amongst other trees, a common yew row runs perpendicular to the road. Four females stand and one has fallen and decayed. The largest has a girth of 2.86 m. The other four (three of them standing) are smaller with an average girth of 1.62 m. Other sites with noteworthy yews are Howth Castle in Howth (Co. Fingal), St. Brendans Church in Clonfert (Co. Galway), St. John the Baptist Church in Midleton (Co. Cork), the Catholic Church in Killeagh (Co. Cork), and the Church of Ireland in Mitchelstown (Co. Cork). In Howth, a pair of common yew rows is separated by a large green containing a circular hedge of yews. Three pictures are pieced together to give the reader a feel for the Howth yews (Figure 5-18). A cruciform yew walk is said to exist at

PAGE 140

128 St. Brendans in Clonfert, Co. Galway. Impressive Irish yew rows exist at Midleton (Figure 5-19) and Killeagh in Co. Cork. Irish yews are planted as a sort of secondary perimeter (inside the walls) at Mitchelstown (exactly like Churchtown mentioned above but the Mitchelstown site has no common yews). It is interesting to also note size similarity amongst the Irish yew rows and amongst the common yew rows. Two common yew rows at Lismore have average girths of c. 2.5 m suggesting that they were planted in the early 18 th century. The Youghal, Dungarvan, Howth Castle, and Broomall common yew rows appear remarkably similar in size. These, the smaller yew rows, were likely planted in the mid 19 th century much the same as many of the individual churchyard yews (the common yew row that once existed at Screhanero graveyard probably falls into this category). Irish yews in the area also show a size similarity. The Broomall Estate, Midleton, Mitchelstown, Churchtown, and Mocollop Irish yews are uncannily similar. The size similarity of local Irish yews was casually observed thus measurements were not taken during the research. A prominent Midleton citizen supposes the Irish yews at St. John the Baptist Church were planted in 1860 when the cemetery opened (Canon Troy, Midleton, Co. Cork, personal communication, October 31 st 2001). Coupled with the Broomall Estate planting date of 1865, it appears that Irish yews were commonly planted in churchyards during the mid 19 th century reforestation movement. The majority of common yews likely also fall into this category. Some Final Thoughts on Yews at Ecclesiastical Sites Eighty-four religious sites were investigated (Appendix E). Sixteen had common yews on the grounds and 24 additional sites had only Irish yews thus the genus was present at 40 of the 84 sites or 48% of the locations. Archeological reviews, remains of

PAGE 141

129 ancient structures and headstones, and local myth suggest that 38 of the 40 ecclesiastical locations with Taxus are early sites (utilized for a minimum of 300 years). There were 13 new churches (with no obvious ancient structures on the property) investigated. Only two of these had either form of yew (Timoleague and Aghada Upper). The reverence of these trees as churchyard protectors of evil appears to have diminished. A local historian insisted that there would have been a yew in every churchyard in previous centuries (Sheila Loughnan, Youghal Chamber of Commerce, personal communication, September 5 th 2001). Yew Woods The Yew Woods on Foaty Island Foaty Island is 20 km west of Youghal. The island, also known as Fota or Foata, is in Cork Harbour and is within the Cork-Youghal limestone valley. Once an 18 th century estate of the Morrison family, the islands historical mansion, with its adjoining lands, are now owned by University College Cork (UCC). The island is home to a world-class golf course (owned by Toyota), the Fota Wildlife Park, and the Fota Arboretum. Just inside the entrance to the golf course is a dense woodland heavily populated with yew. A search at UCC provided no archival evidence of these trees. Several archaeological finds on the island date to the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age (Power 1997). There is not much written in the historical journals about Fota perhaps because, as O Murchadha (1982) suggests, the ancient name of the island is unknown. O Buachalla (1959) suggests the name is of Scandinavian influence claiming the island was known as Fodry or Fodri in the 12-13 th centuries and that fodr is undoubtedly Norse. This area was not included in the early land grants of the 12 th century, a likely reason for the lack of literature.

PAGE 142

130 Circumference, sex, and height data were collected from 180 yew trees on the golf course property at Fota (Appendix F). The height data are incomplete as it is a fairly dense wood. There is another yew wood inside the wildlife park. Data was not collected in this area, however, it was noted that this wood appears to be dying off. The foliage is browned and Neil Stronach, the director of the park, says the yews have become unhealthy over the years and that many are dying (Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Co.Cork, personal communication, November 29 th 2001). This area will be the focus of additional research at a later date. The sex ratio, average girth, age estimates, woodland composition, overall health, and yew regeneration within the golf course wood are discussed below. Svenning and Magard (1999) mentioned an interesting fact in their article on a population of yews in Denmark: The sex ratio of fertile individuals was highly skewed towards females. The concept of sex ratio is very important to paleoecological studies of yew. Pollen analysis only gives a representation of the male population. This female skew was also noted at Fota. Of the 123 adults, 54% of the trees were female, 46% male. Base and modified breast height girth measurements were taken and one successful increment core was obtained. The girth data inadvertently reveal the number of trees that branch before 48 inches because there is no breast height entry for these trees. Average girth calculations were obtained from the base circumference measurements in order to contain data from as many trees as possible. Only three adults were not counted in the averages, this was due to their bases being heavily burdened with debris. Girth range and distribution data are presented in the comprehensive woodland discussion section later in the chapter.

PAGE 143

131 The average girth of male adults (considered as having a height greater than 9 m and showing evidence of sexual reproduction) at Fota is 1.68 m. The average girth of female adults is 1.55 m. The increment core was taken from a female with a 1.7 m breast height girth (her basal girth is 2.0 m). The core contained 103 clear rings and four ghost rings. The 40 th ring from the center of the tree was black and charcoal-like possibly indicating a fire. The growth rate constant of 1.1 cm per year would suggest an age of 187 years but the rings suggest a younger date of c.107. There are areas of pure yew stands at Fota but more often the trees are found singly or in groups of two to six (most often in threes). The ecosystem is also home to Ilex sp (holly), Rhododendron sp, Pteropsida spp (ferns), Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn redwood), Quercus spp (oaks), Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine), Fagus sp (beech), Larix deciduas (European larch), and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir). Judging by the amount of dense, dark foliage and the plentiful fruit of the females, the yew population is healthy. Douglas fir seedlings, however, blanket the understory, dominate the niche and appear to be restricting yew regeneration. This fir can regenerate in deep shade much the same as yew. If this introduced species is left unchecked Douglas fir may dominate the wood within 100 years. The yew has found a less hospitable, but sufficient place to regenerate on the outskirts of the wood. It appears that the yew can tolerate a certain amount of salinity and the Douglas fir cannot, as the brackish floodplain on the north edge of the wood is home to at least 45 juvenile yews and no juvenile Douglas fir. The area is also home to several adult yews. This amount of regeneration was a sight previously unseen in Ireland. This brackish environment is similar to what the

PAGE 144

132 unhealthy yew wood experiences at the wildlife park. I intend to monitor these juveniles for years to come. The Yews of Glengarra Wood There is another wood at Glengarra, Co. Tipperary, where yews are regenerating, but the fate of these juveniles is even more uncertain than the ones at Fota. This wood is 80 km north northwest of Youghal and resides at the foot of a sandstone ridge on the northern border of an east-west trending limestone valley to the north of the Cork-Youghal Valley. The wood is on the north side of the main Dublin-Cork Road (N8) just east of Skeheenaranky. The land was once the property of Walter Raleigh. During the 19 th century it belonged to the Viscount Lismore who planted exotic trees on about 150 acres of the north end of the wood. It then became part of the Shanbally Estate and in 1934 became the property of State Forestry. It is currently managed by Coillte, the Irish Forest Service. A very impressive yew wood, with at least 260 yews (sex and girth data listed in Appendix F), is just inside the entrance to the property. These trees are discussed in two sections; the area of almost pure yew wood and the mixed yew woodland. An excerpt of the 1841 OS map of the area is included to aid visualization (Figure 5-20). The well-established, almost pure yew wood is located on the west side of the entrance road and spans a rectangle 65.5 m by 314 m. The 1841 OS map shows this section as wooded. Yew is the dominant species accompanied by the occasional oak, the canopy of which shades the yew below. The ground is often cleared by forestry personnel thus the areas natural biodiversity is heavily reduced. There is literally no ground cover. The yews are consistently tree-formed and judging from the height of the scars, have been for a long time. Several trees have barbed wire incorporated into their trunks and toys, wrenches, and litter can be found in trunk cavities. A few trees on the western

PAGE 145

133 boundary were not cleared when they fell and are sprouting skyward. An earthen bank, expectedly a fosse, surrounds this area of wood. The bank forms two adjacent squares, the middle boundary going right through the center of this rectangular area (see Figure 5-20). It is an area of very deep shade. Even on the brightest of days it is dark under the canopy. The lower foliage is scant not only because of the maintenance but because the trees must extend their canopy skyward to compete for light. This made it very difficult to obtain sex data, which had to be done during fruiting season. The average base girth of the trees in this yew wood is 1.95 m. The largest tree had a base girth of 3.28 m. Girth range and distribution data are presented in the comprehensive woodland discussion section later in the chapter. Canopy health was difficult to determine because of its height. However, the fruiting season was highly productive, birds above were squawking uncontrollably while fruits by the thousands fell to the ground at my feet. Deer, squirrels, and spiders also abound here. The deer browse on the lower branches of the yew and feast when the yews are tree-formed and the branches are piled up for removal. It is obvious that the clearance and the lack of light under parent trees are arresting regeneration. These factors are not inherent in the oak wood to the west, outside the fosse, where several juvenile yews can be found. This area to the outside of the yew wood is not marked as woodland in the 1841 OS map. The north-south running River Burncourt divides the mixed woodland to the east of the entrance road. This division is not only convenient for discussion but also delineates ecological differences. The mixed woodland is thus discussed in two sections, east of the river and west of the river. The concentration of yews is heavier on the west side of this

PAGE 146

134 division (the area between the entrance road and the river). The 19 th century map shows a fork in the river about 300 m north of the N9 road. The river rejoined at the bridge forming an island. It appears that the west branch of the river subsided and the east branch is the river course today. With this information in mind, it is clear that the larger yews in this area were once on an island. The largest yew here has a base circumference of 2.55 m. The younger yews became established post 1841 in the old riverbed. There are several juveniles all heavily browsed by deer. The east side of the river contains less yew and has been planted with Picea spp (spruce), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir), Abies spp (fir), and Thuja sp (cedar). The non-yew conifer regeneration is tremendous here. Similar to Fota, the only place where the yews are successfully regenerating is in the floodplain. Deer also heavily browse the young yews in this area. Only 157 out of 204 adult trees were positively sexed. The 157 individuals contained 91 females and 66 males. There are 53 juveniles in the population, largely concentrated on the floodplain, away from the dense shade. Several areas of Glengarra Wood are due to be harvested and there is a plan to reforest the relatively sparse riverbed with oak, willow, alder, and birch. There is also a plan to eradicate Rhododendron ponticum (Mediterranean rhododendron), an invasive species. The floodplain also contains holly, Castanea sativa (sweet chestnut), and Scots pine. An anonymous vegetation survey of the area was prepared in August of 2000. Jim Lawlor of the Irish Woodland Trust was thrilled to identify several ancient woodland indicators in the survey. The compiled data from Glengarra Wood was also forwarded to Lawlor and the organization is attempting to get the location added to the list of SACs.

PAGE 147

135 The Yew Wood at Lismore Castle There is a Monks Walk of common yews, planted in 1707, at the Lismore Castle Gardens (Figure 5-21). The fruit of these trees is more numerous than any I have seen. There are more than 200 yews on this property once owned by the woodlands enemy himself, Richard Boyle the ironmaster. There are over 100 yews along the east boundary of the property. Just inside the Castle walls is a linear yew wood. A few trees have been felled but it is relatively undisturbed. The largest yew found in the study area resides by the River Blackwater at the northern end of the castle gardens along the east wall. His girth is 3.34 m. There are numerous females to the south of him with girths greater than 2 m. No juvenile yews were observed on the property. It does not appear that the yews were planted except for the yew shrubbery that marks the western boundary of this small wood. It is strange that the area does not appear wooded on the 1841 OS map, as many of these trees were likely present at the time. Discussion of the Yew Woods Similarities in Terms of Size The largest yew observed at Lismore Castle Gardens has a girth of 3.34 m. This is similar to the largest trees of Fota and Glengarra with girths of 2.97 and 3.28 m respectively. The growth rate of 1.1 cm per year suggests the trees ages are between 327 and 368 years. If the yew does develop annual rings, the increment core data at Fota suggests these trees are much younger. It is known, however, via archival information that increment cores have, in some instances, largely underestimated yew ages. It was noted during measurement compilation at Fota, and again at Glengarra, that there seemed to be a gap in terms of yew girth. There were big trees and small trees and fewer between. A frequency distribution with 10 evenly spaced girth intervals was

PAGE 148

136 formulated for both woods in order to visualize this gap (Figure 5-22). Both populations reveal a bimodal girth distribution. Over one third of both populations, 35.5% of the Fota yews and 44% of the Glengarra yews, have girths between 1.64 and 2.62 m. A large portion of both populations, 43% of the Fota yews and 31% of the Glengarra yews, have girths under .65 m. Thus 78.5% of Fotas population and 75% of Glengarras population lie within 5 of the 10 girth intervals. The average girth within the 1.64-2.62 m. range at Fota is 2.11, at Glengarra 2.06. Using the growth rate these trees are several hundred years old. These trees could have been planted as a result of the reforestation movement but no tree registry entries were found to prove such (the only entry in the area being the 2,000 yews at Monkstown in 1802 which is just to the south of Fota). The author is confident that the woods of Fota and Glengarra have been historically managed (see additional information on tree-forming below) and the mission continues to find literature to prove such. The variation of tree species at Fota hints at a nursery situation. It would be interesting to know where the seedlings came from for the Monkstown planting. The woodlands at Fota and Glengarra could originally have been naturally seeded populations, later discovered and managed, as both areas lie in limestone valleys. The population of juveniles at both sites is believed to be unique. The researchers of the famous yew woods at Killarney have not reported such numbers. The sites have provided amicable reproduction conditions during the last c. 50 years. The survival rate of juveniles, however, is unknown for the species in the area. These areas should be considered hot spots for research as yew populations are diminishing world-wide. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the major areas of regeneration at both sites are in danger. The juvenile Fota yews are taking advantage of a brackish niche subject to

PAGE 149

137 flooding. The juvenile Glengarra yews are taking advantage of an open oak woodland which is not protected from harvesting, and growing in the old riverbed that is going to be planted with other species. Tree-Forming in the Woods The manipulation of yew trunks to grow straight and clean occurs in churchyards and woodlands. The Fota yews, scattered within a forest containing many arboreal species, were once tree-formed. Why would these yews be manipulated if they were growing wild in a place with negligible public access? Peering skyward at the trunks, tree-forming scars are evident the length of all the larger trees. Glengarra Wood reveals a similar situation. This land has only recently been placed in Coilltes hands but it appears that the large trees have been tree-formed for hundreds of years. Some groups of yews at Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, have comparable scarring. The previous images of tree-forming scars revealed fairly large branches cut from the main trunk and the fissures formed from such cuts. When the lower, smaller branches are continually trimmed off, the tree takes on a unique appearance The yew will sprout from the scar fissures eventually producing a branch, much smaller in size than the original would have been. The branches of these trees take on an almost spiral appearance with small branches growing out of fissures. The difference between historically tree-formed yews and seemingly unmanaged yews can be seen in figure 5-23. The top two pictures are taken looking up at a tree-formed trunk, the lower trunks of these trees are straight and clean. The lower two pictures are trunks of trees left to grow on their own accord. One Coillte worker actually stated pure boredom as the reason for tree-forming at Glengarra. In 1988 Coillte employed approximately 3,000 workers. I was told that these workers simply did not have enough to do. The aforementioned idea of pruning to reduce the likelihood of

PAGE 150

138 woodland visitor injury is definitely not an all-encompassing excuse. It seems unlikely that all of these trees were managed so long ago, for such a long period, solely for liability issues. Could these trees have been managed for longbows (even though the height of archery was before their time)? Hardy (1976) insists the best longbows are carved from a trunk. When one considers the incessantly erratic natural growth habit of yews, how could the tens of thousands of bows used in the infamous battles be made from straight trunks? The trees would have had to be cleaned (the sprouts and branches shaved off continuously) for centuries previous. The straight yew trunk as longbow material must have been a rarity rather than the norm. Perhaps a felled manicured churchyard yew provided an English archer with this perfect situation and forever marked the demand for flawlessly erect yews. Hardy (1976) said Stone Age yews from central Europe were made from the core of the log, or are made from branches, as their makers had not yet discovered the magic that lies in the use of the sapwood and the heartwood of yew together. The question of yew management for longbows was posed to several experts. The replies brought up some interesting points and opinions: Paul Comstock, author of The Bent Stick: Making and Using Wooden Hunting Bows, does not think that yews were pruned or cultivated and that the case for such a hypothesis is weak (Delaware, Ohio, personal communication, November 30 th 2001). He also mentioned the use of ash and elm for longbows but that the use of these was purely to keep men shooting. He believes yew management isnt feasible, that it would take many lifetimes just to cultivate one tree. Patrick Moriarty of the British Longbow Society (BL-BS) says yew

PAGE 151

139 was certainly harvestedotherwise the supply of yew would have been exhausted a long time before it was (BL-BS, England, personal communication, December 6 th 2001). It was this contact that led to an investigation of the yews growing on the island of Inchcailleach in Loch Lomond, Scotland. Mr. Moriarty talked of the planting of yew by Robert Bruce specifically for producing yew bowstaves. The yews on the Island do not look anything like the yews at Glengarra or Fota. The size and form of the yews support the possibility of their being planted during Bruces time, almost 700 years ago, but their distribution hints of a naturally seeded population. These trees, isolated from human interference, have freely grown in their erratic manner for hundreds of years. I heard a rumor that Bruce planted these trees in order to replenish the yew population so reduced by the wars of his time. Mr. Moriarty explained that the Scots used bows differently than the English: The Scots used them for hunting, defending their flock, and as light infantry in times of war where the English used them as artillery to lay down a barrage or Arrow Storm. The Scottish bow did not need to be a perfect heartwood/sapwood specimen. He assumes Irish usage more likely followed the Scottish pattern. If this was the case, the branches would have provided sufficient material. Perhaps deficient bows made from branches were better than no bows at all, and the trees in southern Ireland werent really managed but just had sufficient sized branches continually removed. This process would result in the habit pattern that is seen today. The yews on Inchcailleach are isolated and show no evidence of such disturbance. Steve McCarthy also of the BL-BS said that there are bough bowyers who make bows from the limbs of yew trees (Urmston, Manchester, England, personal communication, December 6 th 2001). McCarthy referred me to the technical expert Hugh Soar who added that bowstaves were certainly

PAGE 152

140 shipped from Dublin to Bristol in the 14 th century and that it is very likely that it was yew (Oldland, South Gloucester, England, personal communication, December 15 th 2001). It is interesting that the export was to Bristol as Youghal had strong ties to this port. Perhaps there was yew harvesting in the area. The English and Irish law texts were keyword searched for yew. No indication of harvesting in Ireland was found. The size and ring counts of these local populations do not merit a 14 th century association, but it is not impossible that the yew woods in the area are descendants from historically harvested/managed woodlands. Chapter Summary Yews were identified in Youghal at Myrtle Grove Estate and St. Marys Church of Ireland. Myrtle Grove is home to over 70 yews including a yew row planted upon the death of prominent family members and a square of four yews once associated with Walter Raleigh. St. Marys property contains two yews, the female at the back of the graveyard being one of the largest in the area. The ruin of Molana Abbey just to the north of Youghal town is home to a magnificent female yew. To the west are the 12 tall yews of Castlemartyr. To the north are the yews of Lismore. Single common yews in south-central Cork are found on ecclesiastical ground at Aglish, Ballincollig, Barnane, Churchtown, Dungarvan, Kilcockan, Kilwatermoy, Leap, Mackeys Cross, Screhanero, Timoleague and Aghada Upper. The Kilcockan site is highly unique because of the presence of juvenile yews. This site should be researched in an attempt to isolate its regenerative qualities. Besides the one at Youghal, common yew rows are found at Lismore Famine Cemetery, Lismore Castle Gardens, Dungarvan, Howth Castle, and the Broomall Estate. Irish yew rows are found at Midleton, Killeagh, and the Broomall Estate. Irish yew

PAGE 153

141 perimeters are found at Mitchelstown and Churchtown. St. Marys Church, Molana Abbey, Lismore, and Kilwatermoy are known to be ancient religious foundations. The presence of yews at these locations is more than fitting and it is probable that yews mark the grounds of ancient sites at other locations in Ireland. Several similarities were noted amongst the churchyard yews. If Milners growth rate of 1.1 cm per year has any merit, girth data indicates that churchyard yew planting occurred once in the 18 th century and again in the 19 th century. An interesting discovery is that yews in Youghal only exist on Protestant owned lands. The religious affiliation of several of the sites was unascertained but it is suspected that the majority is Protestant. Another similarity at these sites is the presence of fosses or stone walls constructed to keep cattle from trampling on holy ground and/or being poisoned from yew foliage. Yew woods exist on Fota Island in Co. Cork and at Glengarra Wood in Co. Tipperary. A small wood also exists at Lismore Castle in Co.Waterford. All three survive within east-west trending limestone valleys. Unexplored yew woods reside in Cashel, Co. Tipperary and Blarney, Co. Cork, also in limestone valleys. It is suspected that a thorough search within these geological boundaries would reveal additional yew populations. The populations at Fota and Glengarra could have established themselves naturally, subsequently being managed by humans or are the result of the reforestation movement. They are not, however, listed in the Co. Cork tree registry of the late 18 th early 19 th centuries. The largest yews in the area are c. 3 m in girth. One hundred-eighty trees were measured at Fota and 260 trees were measured at Glengarra. The population at Fota has a female bias. A gender bias at Glengarra could not be adequately measured due to the

PAGE 154

142 height and density of the canopy. The girths of the trees at both sites were placed into 10 evenly spaced intervals. Both populations showed a bimodal girth distribution likely related to a bimodal age distribution. One third of both populations had girths in the 1.64-2.62 m interval and another 30% of both populations are under .65 m. The juvenile populations at both sites are in danger as the areas where they reside will likely be disturbed in the near future. Tree forming is evident at both Fota and Glengarra. A relatively undisturbed site was observed in Scotland and the form of the trees is remarkably different. Many of the trees at Fota and Glengarra have straight trunks with small, almost spiral, branches. The yews at Scotlands isolated island location had large branches that were lower to the ground and strongly fluted trunks. No convincing literature was found to prove that these yews were originally planted and/or managed for bowmaking, however, it is likely that yew bowstaves were exported from the region and that even the extant populations historically provided such material.

PAGE 155

143 LismoreCork YoughalCoverage area Figure 5-1. General area searched for churchyard yews and yew woods (a few sites discussed in the chapter are outside these general boundaries, see figure 5-33).

PAGE 156

144 Figure 5-2. One yew or three? It is difficult to tell whether a tree is the result of several seedlings fusing together or if the tree branched at a very young age. Photo taken at Fota by author.

PAGE 157

145 Figure 5-3. Aged yews hollow in the center. Funeral processions are known to have gone through such hollows. Photo taken on Inchcailleach, Scotland by author.

PAGE 158

146 Figure 5-4. A tree-formed yew at Glengarra Wood. This particular tree was allowed to grow naturally long enough to establish quite large lower limbs. Photo by author.

PAGE 159

147 Figure 5-5. The scar of a formerly tree-formed yew at Fota (additional pictures of this phenomena follow later in the chapter). Photo by author. Figure 5-6. A postcard print of a c.1850 woodcut. The print was found in the old printing office in Youghal. The text under the image talks of the yew tree, but it is evident from this picture that there are three trunks. These could be the three larger yews of a four-yew tree square in front of Myrtle Grove mansion.

PAGE 160

148 Figure 5-7. Yew couple at the end of the yew row at Myrtle Grove. Blake tombs are to the right of the picture. Photo by author. Figure 5-8. Canopy of Myrtle Grove yew row. The foliage of the row is marked with an arrow. The structure in the background is St. Marys Church. The town wall is between the row and church. Photo taken by author from Spa Hill.

PAGE 161

149 Figure 5-9. Myrtle Grove yew row and undergrowth. Photo by author. Figure 5-10. Female yew at St. Marys Church of Ireland Graveyard taken early on a foggy morning. Photo taken by Rick Delahunty, authors father

PAGE 162

150 Figure 5-11. Foliage of Irish yew is dark green, compact, and vertical (right). Foliage of common yew is lighter green and less compact. Photo taken by author at Ballincollig Military Cemetery, Co.Cork.

PAGE 163

151 NOne cm equals approximately 4.5 km Figure 5-12. Location of yews discussed in chapter 5 within the general study area. Note the woods are located within limestone valleys.

PAGE 164

152 Figure 5-13. Yew locations outside of the general study area. Figure 5-14. Yew row at Lismore Famine Cemetery. The new section of the row is at the back where additional light can be seen in the photo. The mass famine grave is to the right of the picture. Photo by author.

PAGE 165

153 Figure 5-15. Yew row in Dungarvan, Co. Kilkenny. Note ruinous Norman church in background. Photo by author. Figure 5-16. Barnane ruin. The vegetated area in the center of the photo is the ancient ruin of Barnane, Co. Tipperary. The dark green foliage in the back is the common yew. The fosse surrounds the back half of the lot. Photo by author.

PAGE 166

154 Figure 5-17. The female yew at Mackeys Cross. Note the Irish yews to either side and the Lee River valley beyond. Photo by author. Figure 5-18. Pair of yew rows with circular hedge in the middle. Howth, Co. Fingal. Photo by author. Figure 5-19. Irish yew row at Midleton, Co. Cork, planted c. 1860. Photo by author.

PAGE 167

155 Figure 5-20. Excerpt from 1841 OS map of Glengarra Wood showing the entrance road, location of fosses, the historical split in the river, and the areas of yew wood and mixed yew woodland. Figure 5-21. Monks Walk of common yew at Lismore Castle Gardens planted in 1707. A modern statue stands at the end of the row. Photo by author.

PAGE 168

156 Distribution of Yew Girths at Fota01020304050600-32.832.8-65.665.6-98.498.4-131.2131.2-164164-196.8196.8-229.6229.6-262.4262.4-295.2295.2-328Girth Intervals in CentimetersNumber of Trees Within Interval Distribution of Yew Girths at Glengarra Wood01020304050600-32.832.8-65.665.6-98.498.4-131.2131.2-164164-196.8196.8-229.6229.6-262.4262.4-295.2295.2-328Girth Intervals in CentimetersNumber of Trees Within Interval Figure 5-22. Girth distributions of yew trees at Fota Wood (A) and Glengarra Wood (B). Note bimodal distribution of both populations. A B

PAGE 169

157 Figure 5-23. The difference between historically tree-formed yews (top two pictures) and yews that have been relatively undisturbed (bottom two pictures). The branches of the tree formed yews take on an almost spiral ranked appearance with no large branches. Yews will naturally branch close to the ground if they are uninterrupted by humans. Photos by author.

PAGE 170

158 Table 5-1. Location and number of yews, religious affiliation of grounds, and presence of wall or fosse on site. LocationCountyReligious AffiliationEncompassed by Number of CommonWall or Fosse?Yews on SiteAghada UpperCorkUnknownNone1AglishWaterfordUnknownWall1BallincolligCorkProtestantWall1BarnaneTipperaryUnknown was ProtestantFosse2Broomall EstateTipperaryUnknown was ProtestantNone4 in rowCastlemartyrCorkCatholic was ProtestantWall12ChurchtownCorkProtestantWall1DungarvanKilkennyCatholic was ProtestantWall10FotaCorkN/A was ProtestantWall180+GlengarraTipperaryN/A was ProtestantFosse260+Howth CastleDublinProtestantFosse?40+KilcockanWaterfordProtestantWall1KilwatermoyWaterfordProtestantWall1LeapCorkProtestantWall4Lismore castleWaterfordProtestantWall200+Lismore cemeteryWaterfordUnknown was ProtestantWall40Mackeys CrossCorkUnknownWall2Molana AbbeyCorkUnknown was ProtestantNone1Myrtle GroveCorkProtestantPartially walled72ScrehaneroCorkUnknownWall1St. Mary'sCorkProtestantWall2TimoleagueCorkCatholicNone1Kinsealy (?)FingalProtestantWall6 Table 5-2. Cattle poisonings in the Youghal area. Location Year Family # of cattle deaths Kilcockan graveyard/church1975Michael and Betty Morrisey19Wild1973William and Mary Kearney4Aglish graveyard1977Patrick Barry12Mocollop graveyard/church1980??1

PAGE 171

CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION The Questions Answered Chapter 2 discussed the tremendous variety in the cultural utilization and reverence of the yew in ancient times, ultimately answering the first question of the analysis: What was the prehistoric and historic cultural significance of the yew tree? Ancient yew wood implements have been found throughout Europe and archaeological evidence proves that Irish inhabitants utilized the yew for hundreds of thousands of years. The yew is an element of place names in many European countries but toponymic analysis revealed an astonishing 160 towns named after the tree in Ireland. The Celtic culture revered the tree, incorporating it into their alphabet and law. Sacred yews have been associated with religious ground for thousands of years and their reverence resulted in their being the object of retaliation during internecine conflict. The reverence continued through the coming of Christianity. The trees association with churchyards is legendary and its use as a symbol of life and death resulted in its being a heraldic icon, but the yew was not only utilized through its spiritual connection. The yew was a common object in literature, being mentioned by numerous ancient authors, and its wood was used to make bows and spears, boats, bowls, staves etc. Yew longbows are known from the 3rd millennium BC and were utilized throughout history especially during the infamous Norman wars. In chapter 3, palynological, archeological, archival, and toponymic data were analyzed to answer the second research question: Was the yew a common element in the 159

PAGE 172

160 prehistoric and historic landscape? The compilation and analysis of Irish pollen diagrams that contained yew showed the species as prevalent during the Atlantic climate phase when woodlands were otherwise being reduced by Neolithic inhabitants. These palynological investigations also suggested yew was prevalent during the following Sub-Boreal and Sub-Atlantic climatic periods. The Celtic culture inhabited the area during the Sub-Atlantic and there is no evidence that yew populations declined, rather, they persevered while other species declined. The coupling of palynological and archival evidence verifies the yews abundance at the beginning of the last millennium. Giraldus stated in the 12 th century that he had never seen such an abundance of yew in his travels. The Irish culture at this point was bombarded with wave after wave of Norman invasions but it is reported that Christianity and English law did not significantly replace the Celtic belief systems until after the reign of James I. It is likely that the requirement for longbows and the eventual 16 th century law to use the yews of Ireland for such, along with Englands subinfeudation and general needs for exploiting Irelands woodlands, devastated yew populations. The Celtic reverence had been lost with the cultural change. By the 19 th century the yew was a popular element of gentlemens landscaped gardens and a sporadic element of churchyards, but rare on the natural landscape. Chapter three included palynological and archival analysis of the town of Youghal in Co. Cork named for an association with the yew tree. This data contributes to the ever-expanding knowledge that yew may have been more abundant than palynologists previously suspected. The data suggests that Youghal was home to ancient woodland containing yew. This woodland formed over 5,000 years ago and fluctuated with time responding to changes in climate. During the first millennium B.C. the woodlands

PAGE 173

161 experienced human interference but yew populations in the area were generally unaffected. The cultural adoration of the Celts likely aided in the trees survival. Yew was present until the first century A.D. when a flood destroyed the yew woods for which the town was named. This flood resulted in a new harbor. Coupled with the navigable River Blackwater, the harbor town of Youghal became an ideal location which the Normans later took advantage of. This new culture group did not tolerate the extant Irish, whose culture revered the yew, and banished them from the area. The yew took a new position on the landscape as the tool of war used by the oppressors. Ironically the tree was turned against those who venerated it. After centuries of deforestation, the yew once again returned to the landscape as an element of gentlemens gardens. The fourth chapter answered the third research question: What is the cultural significance of yew in recent times? The ancient reverence is contemporarily unmatched but the yew retains a cultural position through its use as a material for furniture makers and woodturners. A certain amount of nostalgia remains for the yews ancient religious affiliation and modern authors continue to incorporate it into their prose. The yew has been used in dendrochronology and could prove to be more beneficial in this field than previously suspected. The yews chemical constituents, however, are making the biggest impression on modern society. Yew has provided medication for cancer victims and it may contribute to advances in wastewater treatment and pest management. The medicinal attention has resulted in an increased interest and concern for the species. This particular tree has impressively managed to recapture human attention and may possibly obtain significant reverence once again.

PAGE 174

162 Chapter five surveyed a region in south central Ireland in order to answer the fourth question: How common is the yew on the contemporary landscape? Over 100 sites were visited in order to ascertain the amount of yew present today. It was found that these trees are restricted to older churchyards, a few public lands, elite estates, and the occasional persons yard. Surprisingly enough, a few yew woods survive. Regeneration of yew is minimal and the areas where it is occurring are in danger due to various inhospitable situations such as floodplain colonization or the presence of introduced species. The amount of yews on the landscape today is likely much less than in prehistory. A 12 th century author wrote that yews were abundant in Ireland. This statement is far from true today. The last question (what are the reasons for its relative scarcity today and what does this tell us about the regions culture?) has been answered intermittently throughout the text. The main reasons for yew scarcity is its historical use as longbow material and its poisonous nature making it offensive to cattle owners. The introduction of fast growing conifers is also affecting the yews presence on the landscape, which is discussed once again later in the chapter. The reduction in yew on the landscape reveals cultural change. Climate change, in this case, likely does not significantly contribute to the reduction. This cultural change is summarized in the following discussion, which further contributes to answering the last research question and reiterates the values of the waves of culture groups that have inhabited Ireland. A Discussion of the Yews Position on the Landscape from the Neolithic Period to the 21 st Century Palynological investigations have shown that yew did not decline but rather increased during Neolithic clearance. The culture associated with Bell Beaker pottery is

PAGE 175

163 said to have extended from Poland to Iberia and may have occupied Ireland. This 2 nd millennium BC culture experienced the warm Atlantic climate phase favorable for yew proliferation. We have seen that during the Bronze Age, which had commenced in Ireland by 2000 BC, yew was prevalent at many sites. Rackham (1980) stated in reference to England, that during the Bronze Age, pine and yew outnumbered oak. Metal mining was underway at this time in Ireland. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) discuss mines in west Co. Cork: The fuel used in fire-setting at one Bronze Age mine, by weight, consisted primarily of oak. Hazel, ash, alder, willow, and birch were also used for fuel and the chips of pine on the site were perhaps used for torches. The demand for fuel over the period of about 200 years when the mines seem to have been in use may have been as much as 15,000 tonnes. It was then stated that this was not reflected in a decline in tree pollens. The period when this mine was in production, c. 1700-1500 BC, coincides with the latter part of Zone III of the Youghal pollen diagrams. This zone included disturbance indicators but the only tree taxa that completely disappeared in this zone was elm. The relevant point for this analysis is that the yew didnt decline. This zone marked almost consistent levels of the yew/oak/fern complex. The evidence intimates that yew was not harvested for fuel or any other purpose during this pre-Celtic time in the locality of Youghal. Coupled with similar finds in the regional analysis, it appears the yew was valued in pre-Celtic Ireland. It is known that the Celts had a specific reverence for the yew tree and archeological finds, the frequent town-name associations, and Celtic law and myth support its presence. The culture placed the oak, yew, hazel, and pine in a superior category to other trees. The Celts achieved their greatest expansion during the 3 rd century

PAGE 176

164 BC whereby they occupied much of Europe. As we have seen, they had a system of law as well as a highly developed religion that unified all their tribes from Ireland to Galatia (users.drak.net/draoi/celt.html). The reverence enabled yew populations to withstand the presence of this cultural group and perhaps resulted in an increase throughout Europe. Celtic territory was greatly reduced by the Romans (Ireland and the Isle of Man were the only Celtic lands that went unconquered) who also had an affinity with the species, associating the tree with death and the afterlife (Hartzell 1991). The premise that Pre-Celtic society valued yew coupled with Celtic and Roman reverence conceivably facilitated not only the survival of, but the expansion of, significant yew populations in Europe. The Celts prevailed in Ireland and both local and regional pollen data suggests the yew did not significantly decline during their reign. The yew was common on the landscape even during the first millennium A.D. The customary idea that the early Christian missions did not substantially change Celtic beliefs was verified through palynological and archival data on the local and regional scale. The tumultuous existence between the later Saxons and Normans of northwestern Europe resulted in the Norman conquest of England and invasions of Ireland. The Irish culture, though busy with its own internecine struggle, began to be influenced by the invading imperialistic culture. It wasnt until the wars between the ruling families of France and England (the Capetians and Plantagenets) that there was a revival: The reinvention and exploitation of the ancient concept of the yew longbow. The yew populations which had experienced relative tranquility for perhaps thousands of years, then provided longbow material to the Hundred Years War. They supplied not only the

PAGE 177

165 means for England to defeat France but to murder the culture that, through reverence, had enabled it to proliferate. There must have been sufficient yews in Ireland to result in a 16 th century law written specifically about their usage as longbow material. The infamous deforestation of the 16 th -18 th centuries was the result of foreign exploitation that instigated poverty resulting in further denudation of the land. Any yews that survived the height of archery were likely felled during this period. Mike Baillie is convinced that the devastation was thorough and that there are no ancient trees in Ireland as a result of it (Palaeoecology Centre, Queens University, Belfast, personal communication, February 8, 2002). Violits (1986) suggests that 10,000 bows per year were exported from Nuremberg. Because of the yews slow growth, it is unlikely that the yews that supplied the bowstaves were planted for such. It is suspected that palynological evidence from export countries would reveal near total devastation of long established populations. It was during this period that the yew lost its significant position on the landscape eventually being relatively isolated to religious grounds making the churchyard yew a unique commodity. Perhaps not even a few remote populations survived. Admiration and respect gave way to exploitation and survival during the centuries of political and economical upheaval. The number of yews that exist today are insignificant in comparison to numbers of the past. The rare ancient churchyard yews are survivors and they reveal to us the extensive size and age achievable by this species. The pollen and fruit of these trees have aided in whatever genetic diversity remains today. Present yew populations such as Fota and Glengarra likely came about as a result of human attempts to correct a known devastation of natural populations (like the population on Inchcailleach), were planted

PAGE 178

166 during reforestation periods (like the one in Ireland that began in the late 18 th century), are abandoned plantations for landscape specimens (a scenario possible at Fota), and/or the result of timely occupations of ecological niches. There were once ancient yews on the Irish landscape. The annals of Ireland talk of famous revered yews being burned during conflict. The ancient Eo Rossa is known to have physically existed and its reverence continued in myth long after its demise. The oldest yews in Ireland today were likely planted during the 18 19 th century reforestation movement unless a few survived on well-protected estates. The largest yew found in the research was on such an estate at the Lismore Castle. This trees girth (3.3 m) is incomparable to the girths of famous yews in England (the yew at Tandridge in Surrey with a girth of 10.8 m, the yew at Payhembury in Devon with a girth of over 14 m). Predictions for the Future of Yew in Ireland Ireland is on the conifer plantation bandwagon. Sitka spruce, lodgpole pine, Monterey and Scots pine, Douglas fir, and western hemlock are all being planted on the ravaged soils of Ireland. McCracken provided a foreseeable scenario where Ireland will become one vast coniferous plantation (1971). A familiar topic comes to mind. The massive deforestation of Ireland by the House of Tudor inevitably brought with it a major loss of biodiversity. The species list of Glengarra, indicates that it may be an ancient woodland (Jim Lawlor, Native Woodland Trust, Dublin, personal communication, February 12, 2002). The problem is that Coillte owns this land and there are plans to clear and plant quick-growing conifers on a large part of this tract. Environmental awareness is increasing but Ireland is still very much a developing society. The loss of respect for nature is overwhelming. All but the best maintained historical sites were covered in litter. The teenage youth emanates a general indifference

PAGE 179

167 to their natural environment and education does not include adequate instruction on the subject (Jean Kelly, East Cork Area Development, Co. Cork, personal communication, September 4 th 2001). Economic concerns consistently rule over environmental concerns and intergenerational equity is not a concept that has taken a firm hold in Ireland. A project with good intentions is The Peoples Millennium Forests, a project in Ireland whereby 1.2 million trees (oak, ash, alder, hazel, yew, and pine) will be planted in an attempt to restore Irish woodlands (Byrne 2001), but no evidence of such a project was seen during the research. In Britain, cuttings of historic yew trees have been nurtured for the Yews for the Millenium program. Approximately 7,000 of these juveniles are being planted in Britain (along with a commemorative plaque) at churchyards, parks, schools, hospitals, colleges, and community centers (Smith 2000). Perhaps the trend will reach Ireland. Lucas (1963) adds a familiar reason for the yews overall decline: In recent centuries, we find that the yew has been virtually eliminated from the Irish countryside as a wild tree, probably on account of the fact that its foliage is dangerous to cattle Both cattle and spirituality have been important to Irelands people for thousands of years. The importance of cattle remains but the spiritual connection with yew has weakened. The people no longer revere nature and the several cattle poisonings in the area were so serious as to turn the commoner against the yew. There are no Eo Rossas on the landscape of today. Common yews were found in only 19% of the churchyards. This included only two young yews, both in precarious positions and likely will not survive. The age of the churchyard yew in south central Ireland is gone. Unless a renewal in

PAGE 180

168 planting takes place, the yew will be an historical element on this landscape. This absence of young yews reveals a culture indifferent to such a tradition. The yew still retains some significance in landscape gardening but has lost its previous cultural reverence as a mystical symbol of life and death. However, there is a recent movement that may save the species; the renewed interest in Celtic culture. Ancient myths and legends are once again becoming popular. Celtic music is also taking the world by storm. Brain McNeill of the Battlefield Band, one of Scotlands foremost music groups, wrote and composed The Yew Tree, whereby a tree over a thousand years old is asked tell me what do you see? when looking back at the countries history. Additional Studies It is suspected that biodiversity studies of yew woods will reveal an extensive number of interdependent, and perhaps new, species. The yews cultural connections should be coupled with this ecological data to formulate a multidisciplinary but commonsensical volume to educate the general public. Yew regeneration should be a concern. It is worrisome that out of around 20 places where yews were observed, regeneration was occurring in only three locations (all of which are very susceptible to human disturbance). The three locations should be researched in order to identify the favorable regeneration variables. One idea is the presence of badgers. Badger dens were seen at two of the three locations. Their presence seems to be associated with a decrease in the amount of rabbits in an area thus decreasing the chances of rabbits topping-off young yews. Mammal trapping in the yew woods of Killarney was underway during this research (Phillip Perrin, Killarney, Co. Kerry, personal communication, August 9 th 2001). Garcia et al (2000) found yew regeneration to be dependent on the presence of fleshy-fruited shrubs and avian disperses in southern

PAGE 181

169 Spain (the shrubs provided protection from summer drought and ungulate herbivores). Hulme (1996) also found a strong association between shrubs and regeneration in the yew populations of Co. Durham, England. The Yew in the Global Picture While wandering amongst these trees, it is easy to see why they are associated with myth and fable. An aged yew is simply awe-inspiring. The darkness under the canopy, the twisted trunk, the damp cool, together bring forth images of Celtic druids and enchantment. How often do we feel such an atmosphere in our urbanized lives? Our deepest experiences of beauty occur in our interactions with nature (Fisher 2002). Will future generations be able to have such experiences? Our western society no longer invents sayings like tall trees from little acorns grow. Parables are no longer written about mustard seeds. We do not think of cherry bark when we swallow a teaspoon of cough syrup or of a cane field when we sweeten our coffee. Our dominion over nature began in prehistory. Some say it was inevitable, a human privilege they say, as they quote the words of Genesis with their own flare. We maintain endless expectations of natures abilities while having little respect for them. Amazingly, our ancestors may have had a better societal understanding of ecosystems than we do today. By losing our respect for natures abilities, we risk losing our means to survive. The complexity of our biosphere must be appreciated, its resilience not overestimated. Human society has become dependent on diversity. Futurists, naturalists, and endless other -ists live in the world together creating a teetering balance, providing endless viewpoints, ultimately housing the essence of the human experience. The scientist plays one role, the poet another, often not understanding one another but both equally contributing to society thus creating a sociological diversity. This cultural

PAGE 182

170 diversity is often unappreciated, sometimes disrespected. Either way, it evolves and changes through time, revolving around the interactions of humans who are generally oblivious to their reliance on the physical environment. Ecological biodiversity is treated similarly to cultural diversity. Our tendency toward anthropocentricity blindly guides us through life. The scientific community is far from understanding, and thus fully respecting, the complex web of interactions between species and their interdependency on one another. Peirce Lewis (1976), a cultural geographer, wrote of an important concept to keep in mind when attempting to understand a cultural environment. This concept is the same as an ecologists view of a natural environment. He spoke of cultural unity, otherwise known as landscape equality. This concept emphasizes that no object is more important than another. A McDonalds is of no greater importance, nor tells us more about the landscape, than the rusty bench across the street. To an ecologist, the Polar Bear is no more important than the bacteria on the fish on which it feeds. Certain species, however, are able to attract greater attention than others. It is easier for children to care about a warm fuzzy mammal than microorganisms on the ocean surface. Ecologists must not look at this apparent bias with disdain but take advantage of it by using the preferred organisms as entry points to larger discussions. The greater the interest is in a particular species, the greater the chance of preserving it and its dependent organisms (which eventually extends to us all). The yews various cultural associations touch a wide range of the populace which will aid in conservation measures. The yew has strong ties to both views regarding the preservation of biodiversity. The anthropocentric inquiry of value includes not only the yews medicinal benefits to society but respect

PAGE 183

171 from bowmen for its medieval role in warfare, from craftsmen for its extraordinary wood, and from authors for its role in ancient cultures and its mystical je ne sais quoi. The yew is also attractive to the Earth-first point of view of biodiversity whereby this organism over thousands, if not millions, of years has managed to have not only a longevity known to merely a few species on earth, but has internally created chemical constituents that protect it against various pests and browsers. Concluding Statements The yew tree has played an important role in European civilization as mythological icon and raw material. Its evergreen nature, winter fruit, wood quality, and general aesthetics elevated it to the Celtic status of a noble tree. It is strongly associated with ancient ritual, Christian churchyards, and death. The yew has provided tools and weapons for ancient and medieval cultures and been manipulated into religious objects and home furnishings. By providing a unique compound called taxol, it stands today not as a symbol of death, but a symbol of life. Eerily enough, the author found, toward the end of this research, that an acquaintances life had been saved by taxol. This work, by following the processes involved in the progression of one landscape element, connects our past to our future, unites physical and cultural geography, and exemplifies the interconnectedness of life. It is hoped that the information in these pages contributes to an overall understanding of the species, encourages larger projects on yew ecology, and generates a greater respect for the species.

PAGE 184

APPENDIX A LOCATIONAL DATABASE OF TOWNS NAMED AFTER THE YEW TREE IN IRELAND 172

PAGE 185

County Town name Early 19th century 1997 OS Irish Grid Longitude Latitude OS sheet number sheet number Coordinates Antrim Ballynure Townland 45 15 J 316 935 05 57 16.979 54 46 19.699 Armagh Newry 26 29 J 085 265 06 20 17.223 54 10 33.380 Cavan Ture 2 26 H 076 371 07 52 59.867 54 16 57.323 Altinure 7,9 26 H 153 233 07 45 56.738 54 09 30.326 Uragh 7 26 H 201 271 07 41 31.277 54 11 32.646 Ture 10,14 27 H 305 162 07 32 01.591 54 05 38.231 Uragh 14 27 H 340 145 07 28 49.682 54 04 42.455 Yewer Glebe 19 34 H 306 067 07 31 59.537 54 00 30.921 Mayo 17,18 28A H 642 137 07 01 09.216 54 04 06.222 Oghill 31 34 N 358 952 07 27 18.836 53 54 17.735 Virginia 39 35 N 616 877 07 03 51.067 53 50 06.433 Clare Drumanure 24 57 R 222 845 09 09 23.323 52 54 20.687 Drumanure 32 57 R 223 773 09 09 11.790 52 50 27.840 Moynoe 21,29 58 R 663 859 08 30 04.079 52 55 22.442 Cork Ballinure 54 81 X 835 870 06 46 59.584 52 01 43.633 Clashanure 72 80 W 516 716 08 42 11.463 51 53 40.365 Glanworth 27 73 R 757 040 08 21 19.288 52 11 14.409 Knockanure 58,59,69,70 79 W 235 766 09 06 44.929 51 56 10.800 Youghal 67 81 X 105 780 07 50 50.095 51 57 14.668 Ballinure 74,75 87 W 723 707 08 24 08.572 51 53 16.328 Gortanure 93,94,107,108 85 W 237 568 09 06 18.738 51 45 30.304 Kinure 112,125 87 W 696 493 08 26 23.015 51 41 43.346 Finure 100 81 W 853 607 08 12 47.214 51 47 54.516 Youghals 135 89 W 390 405 08 52 50.768 51 36 49.644 Donegal Ture 30,39 7 C 468 294 07 15 59.675 55 06 34.916 Aghilly 29 3 C 365 325 07 25 39.302 55 08 18.282 Oghill 36 2 C 194 241 07 41 46.765 55 03 50.088 Loughanure 41,49 1 B 808 167 08 18 00.176 54 59 50.788 Crockanure 3 C 455 303 07 17 12.493 55 07 04.456 Down Killinure 9,15 20 J 375 637 05 52 37.486 54 30 10.821 Newry 46,50 29 J 087 265 06 20 06.199 54 10 33.228 Mayo Bridge 47,51 29 J 160 273 06 13 22.770 54 10 53.344 Mayo 47,51 29 J 155 261 06 13 51.986 54 10 14.952 Dublin Rush 8 43 O 271 548 06 04 58.983 53 31 39.961 173

PAGE 186

Terenure 18,22 50 O 150 302 06 16 27.915 53 18 34.525 Fermanagh Aghinure 28 27 H 333 363 07 29 19.511 54 16 27.748 Oghillicartan 2 18 H 265 686 07 35 24.952 54 33 53.906 Oghill 6 17 H 225 665 07 39 08.174 54 32 46.680 Drumanure 14,15 17 H 113 499 07 49 33.583 54 23 51.100 Sruhanure 9 17 H 032 572 07 57 02.324 54 27 47.636 Oghill 15,16 17 H 210 548 07 40 34.621 54 26 28.483 Oghill 34 27 H 341 352 07 28 35.748 54 15 51.979 Gortinure 40 27 H 465 284 07 17 14.409 54 12 08.526 Galway Aughnanure 54 45 M 153 413 09 16 26.555 53 24 54.086 Eochaill 110 51 L 865 102 09 41 45.489 53 07 48.938 Killure Beg 74 47 M 796 355 08 18 23.464 53 22 09.499 Killure Castle 74 47 M 807 342 08 17 23.679 53 21 27.592 Killure More 74,87 47 M 786 336 08 19 17.092 53 21 07.891 Oghil Beg 100 47 M 881 219 08 10 41.855 53 14 50.458 Oghil More 100 47 M 885 213 08 10 20.202 53 14 31.078 Oghil Lough 110,111 51 L 864 109 09 41 51.758 53 08 11.498 Oghil Fort 110,111 51 L 864 098 09 41 50.356 53 07 35.926 Oghly Island 63 44 L 749 390 09 52 49.874 53 23 10.826 Yew Islands 126 53 M 822 024 08 15 56.181 53 04 19.004 Oghilly 132 53 R 757 976 08 21 44.039 53 01 42.792 Kerry Aghadoe crossroads 66 78 V 920 925 09 34 31.477 52 04 26.319 Aughils 46 71 Q 723 028 09 51 59.353 52 09 44.345 Killoe 79,80 83 V 486 768 10 12 04.058 51 55 22.101 Uragh 101,109 84 V 833 624 09 41 31.390 51 48 06.395 Knockanure 64 R 064 356 09 22 38.561 52 27 49.938 Kildare Crockanure Glebe 22 55 N 727 138 06 54 45.766 53 10 11.024 Oghil 22,27 55 N 670 098 06 59 55.617 53 08 04.326 Kilkenny Killure/Bohernatrekaun 21 68 S 661 555 07 01 23.737 52 38 48.188 Ahanure 26 67 S 395 411 07 25 04.827 52 31 11.612 Laois (Leix) Clonoghil 15,16 54 S 253 923 07 37 23.792 52 58 51.158 (Queens) Clonoghil 23,29 60 S 389 833 07 25 18.682 52 53 57.063 Killinure 5,9 55 N 600 095 07 06 12.343 53 07 57.623 Killinure 11 54 S 316 984 07 31 43.944 53 02 7.302 Mayo 31,36 61 S 612 767 07 05 30.132 52 50 16.084 Leitrim Uragh 1 16 G 782 544 08 20 09.667 54 26 15.423 174

PAGE 187

Drumanure 5 16 G 933 492 08 06 11.359 54 23 28.751 Mayo 24,25 26 H 100 115 07 50 50.252 54 03 09.102 Nure 7 16 G 855 417 08 13 22.371 54 19 25.576 Gortanure (Leitrim N) 28 33 H 036 041 07 56 42.406 53 59 10.034 Oghill 28,32 33 H 068 013 07 53 46.991 53 57 39.345 Drumanure 30 34 H 249 061 07 37 12.732 54 00 12.615 Gortinure 33 34 N 127 957 07 48 24.190 53 54 37.797 Gortanure (Leitrim S) 35 33 N 084 935 07 52 19.996 53 53 26.947 Limerick Uregare 39,40 65 R 626 338 08 33 00.840 52 27 15.959 Killinure 14 65 R 703 515 08 26 18.730 52 36 50.337 Londonderry Aughil 2,6 4 C 695 341 06 54 35.081 55 08 57.316 (Derry) Killure/Killure Bridge 7,11 4 C 841 274 06 40 57.924 55 05 12.538 Oghill 9,16 7 C 630 210 07 00 52.530 55 01 56.832 Oghill 14,22 7 C 512 152 07 12 00.631 54 58 54.140 Gortinure 20?,21 7 C 424 122 07 20 17.078 54 57 20.094 Ballynure 35 13 H 784 986 06 46 47.550 54 49 44.646 Londonderry Altinure Upper 29,30 7 C 590 034 07 04 50.749 54 52 29.444 Cont'd Altinure Lower 29,30 7 C 596 025 07 04 17.769 54 52 00.083 Gortinure Bridge 32 8 C 836 043 06 41 50.359 54 52 45.929 Tullynure 45,46,48 13 H 795 834 06 46 00.905 54 41 32.516 Longford Drumanure 23 41 N 227 597 07 39 25.834 53 35 12.027 Killinure 17 40 N 022 668 07 58 00.208 53 39 03.461 Killoe/Killoe Glebe 9,14 41 N 203 787 07 41 31.845 53 45 27.011 Oghil 9 34 N 170 827 07 44 31.193 53 47 36.829 Louth Newrath 11 36 H 942 002 06 33 54.839 53 56 33.077 Tinure 21 36 O 042 835 06 25 07.148 53 47 26.172 Newrath 12,15 36 O 031 974 06 25 50.427 53 54 56.434 Mayo Nure 30 24 G 200 188 09 13 24.384 54 06 43.200 Oghillees 57,67 31 L 931 992 09 37 39.976 53 55 51.866 Gortanure 63,64 32 M 560 993 08 40 12.462 53 56 28.081 Meath Newrath 7 36 N 933 866 06 34 59.066 53 49 13.863 Newrath 11 35 N 764 833 06 50 25.744 53 47 37.058 Newrath Big/Little 16,17 42 N 726 758 06 53 59.666 53 43 36.443 Newrath 19 43 N 943 761 06 34 15.959 53 43 33.657 Monaghan Ballynure 12,17 27 H 535 249 07 10 50.471 54 10 12.868 Ellinure 17 27 H 525 238 07 11 46.286 54 09 37.662 175

PAGE 188

Ture 16,17 27 H 511 218 07 13 04.663 Cornanure 28 28 H 836 109 54 02 25.661 Cornanure 19 28 06 51 24.848 54 08 16.621 Cornanure 6 H 750 217 06 51 08.236 54 08 19.698 Oghill 28 H 779 197 06 48 30.368 54 07 13.466 28,29,32 35 H 904 065 06 37 16.410 53 59 59.247 Nure Beg 31 35 H 833 007 06 43 51.843 53 56 55.971 Nure More 31 35 H 828 012 06 44 18.767 Offaly Clonoghil Upper 35 53 07 53 06.214 53 05 18.106 (Kings) Clonoghil Lower 35 N 086 051 07 52 17.763 53 05 47.173 Killinure 54 N 138 052 07 47 38.257 53 05 50.016 42 53 S 094 922 07 51 36.118 52 58 49.775 Ardnanure 51 47 M 965 392 08 03 09.469 53 24 10.572 Lisdillure 47 M 993 376 08 00 37.881 Cloonoghill 51 47 M 934 382 53 23 38.115 Moynure 52 47 07 59 54.588 53 23 18.853 Nure 52 M 996 327 08 00 21.624 53 20 40.332 Sligo Oghil 24 G 363 324 08 58 37.505 54 14 11.242 28,35 25 G 853 188 08 13 29.404 54 07 04.829 Killure 36,37 24 G 416 109 08 53 29.908 54 02 38.144 54 08 33.483 06 43 25.316 H 747 216 28B 19,24 Oghill 53 57 12.430 N 077 042 53 36 Moynure Roscommon 53 23 18.851 08 05 57.209 N 001 376 47 17 176 Tullynure Tipperary Youghal 14,20 59 R 783 821 08 19 20.778 52 53 21.727 Aughall Beg 29 60 S 135 715 07 47 59.432 52 47 39.744 Ballinure 54 66 S 163 458 07 45 34.559 52 33 47.956 Emly 65 65 R 762 346 08 21 00.759 Killenure 52,60 66 S 003 445 07 59 44.075 52 33 06.772 Killinure 81 74 S 037 193 07 56 44.606 52 19 31.354 Donohill 59 66 R 911 432 08 07 53.292 52 32 24.448 Tyrone Oghill 39 14 H 892 714 06 37 12.603 54 34 58.653 Killinure 25 12 H 420 789 07 20 56.929 54 39 23.255 Tullynure 46,54 19 H 765 648 06 49 05.838 54 31 32.712 Newry 58,64 18 H 485 504 07 15 11.222 54 23 59.410 Waterford Newrath 9 75 S 594 142 07 07 46.567 52 16 34.831 Killure 17,18 76 S 622 082 07 05 22.858 52 13 19.599 Ballinure 31 82 X 243 915 07 38 43.926 52 04 29.945 Ballinure 34,35 82 X 141 863 07 47 40.329 52 01 42.956 Okyle 29 81 X 076 932 07 53 20.759 52 05 26.684 52 27 44.584

PAGE 189

177 Westmeath Ballinure/Ballyhealy 14 42 N 619 598 07 03 54.728 53 35 03.884 Killinure North 22 47 N 063 478 07 54 18.337 53 28 48.694 Killinure South 22 47 N 067 473 07 53 56.682 53 28 32.501 Killinure Loch 22 47 N 070 460 07 53 40.519 53 27 50.431 Killinure Rocks 22 47 N 047 465 07 55 45.178 53 28 06.698 Killinure Point 22 47 N 050 460 07 55 28.941 53 27 50.513 Nure or Lilliput 25,32 48 N 365 443 07 27 02.034 53 26 51.055 Rathnure 32,33 48 N 403 398 07 23 38.193 53 24 24.489 Wexford Knockanure 9,10 69 S 948 555 06 35 57.430 52 38 32.875 Ballinure 19 69 S 927 447 06 37 59.981 52 32 44.844 Ballynure 22 69 T 168 425 06 16 44.228 52 31 17.013 Rathnure 25 68 S 914 380 06 39 15.583 52 29 08.912 Wicklow Ballynure 14,20 55 S 835 956 06 45 21.434 53 00 16.646 Newrath 25 56 T 291 963 06 04 35.888 53 00 06.720 Newry 42,46 62 S 936 652 06 36 51.316 52 43 47.374 Oghil Upper 35 62 T 243 829 06 09 11.663 52 52 57.497 Oghil Lower 35,36 62 T 256 833 06 08 01.615 52 53 09.345 Killinure 37,42 61 S 913 718 06 38 47.248 52 47 22.267

PAGE 190

APPENDIX B RADIOCARBON DATING RESULTS PART A: RADIOCARBON DATING RESULTS OF TWO YEW WOOD SAMPLES TAKEN FROM STRAND, YOUGHAL, CO. CORK, IRELAND 178

PAGE 191

179 PART B: RADIOCARBON DATING RESULTS OF SAMPLES TAKEN FROM SEDIMENT CORE ON STRAND, YOUGHAL, CO. CORK, IRELAND

PAGE 192

APPENDIX C RAW POLLEN DATA AND TRANSFORMED VALUES FOR POLLEN ZONATION 180

PAGE 193

PART 1. RAW POLLEN DATA FOR MARSH CORE Depth cm Taxus Ulmus Alnus Salix Quercus Pinus Betula Tilia Corylus Type Ericales Graminae Urtica Plantago Equisetum Carex Polypodium Pteridium Lactuceae Myriophyllum Nymphaea Potamogeton Typha 71 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 8 18 30 0 0 3 24 24 2 1 0 0 0 0 8 3 0 0 337500400631 52800000 1 1. 3 2 95 7 0 5 0 12 1 8 1 25 0 10 4 1 1 6 28 5 0 0 0 0 0 107 2 0 0 1 1 0 7 0 5 10 11 1 1 0 15 18 14 3 0 0 0 0 117 5 0 1 0 1 0 8 0 2 2 10 2 1 0 15 11 6 0 0 0 0 0 129 2 0 0 0 4 0 8 0 8 0 4 0 0 0 4 42 14 0 0 0 0 0 141 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 40 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 153 3 0 3 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 20 0 0 0 3 15 5 0 0 0 0 0 165 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 20 0 0 0 0 200 1 0 0 0 0 0 177 10 0 5 7 0 0 0 1 5 0 20 5 0 0 0 110 0 0 0 0 0 0 189 3 0 3 5 0 2 1 0 0 0 19 3 0 0 9 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 199 5 0 3 10 5 1.5 1 0 5 0 11 22 0 0 24 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 205 1 0 4 12 0 0 2 0 6 0 10 4 0 0 26 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 215 2 1 5 5 0 2.5 2 0 4 0 10 0 0 0 20 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 227 0 2 26 5 0 4.5 2 0 6 1 8 1 0 0 20 162 0 0 0 0 0 0 239 1 6 12 1 3 3.5 1 0 17 0 5 0 0 0 13 82 0 0 3 0 0 3 251 1 5 11 0 0 1.5 0 0 17 0 5 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 11 36 11 1 263 0 2 5 0 6 3 0 0 6 0 6 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 9 0 7 1 266 0 1 2 0 3 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 6 0 269 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 181

PAGE 194

PART 2. MARSH CORE DATA TRANSFORMED INTO CATEGORIES AND ZONES FORMULATED ON THE BASIS OF AMOUNT OF CHANGES IN POLLEN PROFILE Depth cmTaxusUlmusAlnusSalixQuercusPinusBetulaTiliaCorylus TypeEricalesGraminaeUrticaPlantagoEquisetumCarexPolypodiumPteridiumLactuceaeMyriophyllumNymphaeaPotamogetonTypha710010000023400144110000832011210010421124200000939520103121402111251000001071001102012311033310000661171010102011211033200000911129100010202010001510000014100100000005000010000001531010110010300013100000671651001000010300007100000661772012000110310006000000189101101100031002200000019910121110103400410000007102051013001020210043000000792151111011010200031000000end of fully-developed woodland22701410110212100370000001010239123111103010003600100125111300100301000010035312630110210020200011002021892660110100010000000001020552690000000000000000001010 # changessteps of change11171142091781081169920915 182

PAGE 195

PART 3. RAW POLLEN DATA FROM STRAND CORE Depth cmTaxusUlmusAlnusSalixQuercusPinusBetulaFagusIlexCorylus TypeEricalesGraminaeUrticaPlantagoCarexPolypodiumPteridiumLactuceaeAsterGalliumMyriophyllumNymphaeaTypha310291011.50001004203547000000092120850100505203843000000015109242000050900555470000001711122630500601320586500000002030261620500160800222420000002410208103004050010290000000280010122100040104018138400000032214216504002092020180000000036401327100001141133010000004210801520600326101289000000049308000000201820718100000058101060010022502655400000064001053000050400124662000007011098800004172511343000000763032102001281115014940000008270626102002053016520000008640718210002011744206310200090130610400000030219150000000114301310502005081027504010000120141307000030203010000000012301112220016027100202431000012920644110030600101730000001352416451.5101230127047340020001429151220010050101803700000000151424417600020300017000000015815191033600120610252000600016511245190.5100108304715000000017139351281200501120434000000017764130156.50002027000050000670182008091.5000190680060000030018900000100000500010000203196000001.500000100000000000 183

PAGE 196

PART 4. MARSH CORE DATA TRANSFORMED INTO CATEGORIES AND ZONES FORMULATED ON THE BASIS OF AMOUNT OF CHANGES IN POLLEN PROFILE Depth cmTaxusUlmusAlnusSalixQuercusPinusBetulaFagusIlexCorylus TypeEricalesGraminaeUrticaPlantagoCarexPolypodiumPteridiumLactuceaeAsterGalliumMyriophyllumNymphaeaTypha# changessteps of change310421100020110560000000559113210100101105600000007915102410000102006620000008101731131010020310660000000201043101003020044100000024103210100101004300000001011280023110001021037100000079321153101001021037000000091036107210000111111410000007942106310200112103600000004910200000010310221000000581022001001110126200000088640021100001010036210000091170302220000112113510000009147610521001121310321000000898220621010010110311000000861023110001032113212100011179030221000000101330000000101211410321010010210461000000122012031102000010101020000000152312301311100120420311110000121612910211110010200631000000end of fully-developed woodland1351131111014032061100100012171422113301001023050000000081915111113200010100040000000112115811321120030210410002000915165311131100102106300000007131711253211001031061000000017721303100034000010000220102018200202100030600200000100715189000001000001000100001013319600000100000100000000000 9126791681214201328 184

PAGE 197

APPENDIX D LOCATIONAL, SEX, AND CIRCUMFERENCE DATA FOR SOME OF THE TREES RESEARCHED 185

PAGE 198

186 # of yews row of yews? Location OSMap number Sex Latitude Longitude BreastCircum-ference Diameter BaseCircum-ference Height Youghal, Strand macrofossils 81 51 55.876 07 51.767 2 Youghal, Church of Ireland 81 Female 51 57.260 07 51.208 288 91.72 42'3.2" Youghal, Church of Ireland 81 Female 51 57.303 07 51.248 128 40.76 39'10" 60 y Youghal, Spa Hill 81 Top 51 57.310 07 51.263 82 26.11 Youghal, Spa Hill 81 Middle 101 32.17 1 Ballynatray, Molena Abbey 81 Female 51 59.895 07 53.08 192 61.15 Lismore, Castle 81 333 106.05 Lismore, Castle 81 Male 218 69.43 Lismore, Castle 81 Female 230 73.25 Lismore, Castle 81 Female 295 93.95 200+ y Lismore, Castle 81 Female 271 86.31 40 y Lismore, Famine Cemetery 81 0.00 4 Kilcockan, Abandoned Church 81 Graft M/F 52 02.207 07 52.976 0.00 110 24'4.5" Kilcockan, Abandoned Church 81 Juvenile 52 02.207 07 52.976 24cm Kilcockan, Abandoned Church 81 Juvenile 52 02.207 07 52.976 2.7 59cm Kilcockan, Abandoned Church 81 Juvenile 52 02.207 07 52.976 3 67cm 1 Kilwatermoy, Abondoned Church 81 Male 52 04.020 07 57.487 117 37.26 123 30'5" 1 Ballincollig, British Cemetery 87 Female 51 53.490 08 35.131 296 94.27 10+ Carrigrohane, Castle 87 0.00 2 Macky's Cross 87 Female 51 54.270 08 32.815 189 60.19 2 y Screhanero, Graveyard 87 0.00 4 y Leap, Graveyard 89 51 34.473 09 09.303 125 39.81 100+ Foaty Island, Fota Golf Course 87/81 Separate Appendix 0.00 100+ Foaty Island, Fota Arboretum 87/81 0.00 ? Glengarra, Glengarra Wood 74 Separate Appendix 0.00 14 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 Female 51 54.705 08 03.557 248 78.98 67'7" Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 214 68.15 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 200 63.69 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 179.5 57.17 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 173 55.10 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 Female 51 54.705 08 03.557 156 49.68 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 136 43.31 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 130 41.40

PAGE 199

Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 ? 51 54.705 08 03.557 104 33.12 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 88 28.03 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 85 27.07 Castlemartyr, Carmalite Monastery 81 51 54.705 08 03.557 70 22.29 4 y Tipperary, Broomall Estate 59 Female 286 91.08 Tipperary, Broomall Estate 59 Female 153 48.73 Tipperary, Broomall Estate 59 Female 176 56.05 Tipperary, Broomall Estate 59 Female 155 49.36 Tipperary, Broomall Estate 59 felled 157 50.00 2 Tipperary, Barnane, Graveyard 59 0.00 10 y Kilkenny, Dungarvan, St.Michael and St. David's Church 68 0.00 10 Fingal, Malahide, Castle 50 0.00 20+ y Fingal, Howth, Castle 50 0.00 1 Aglish/Glencairn Cemetery 81 Female 52 07.511 08 01.311 265 84.39 41'10" 1 Churchtown 81 Female 0.00 1 Fermoy, Church at Y 0.00 187

PAGE 200

APPENDIX E NUMBER OF COMMON AND/OR IRISH YEWS IN 84 CHURCHYARDS # Church Name Redone/Ruin? Number of Number of Common Yews Irish Yews 1 Ardagh Ruin 0 1 2 Dangan Ruin 0 8 3 Tallow Redone 0 1 4 Kilwatermoy Ruin 1 3 5 Knockanore Redone 0 8 6 Kilcockan Ruin 1 14 7 Youghal Redone 2 5 8 Molana Ruin 1 0 9 Carmelite Redone 14 4 10 Killea Redone 0 1 11 Knockraha Ruin 0 3 12 Dungarvan Ruin and New 10 1 13 Moat Ruin 0 0 14 Carrigeen New 0 0 15 Knockanroe Redone 0 0 16 Ballintlea Ruin 0 0 17 Ballybrusa New building, 1885 grave 0 0 18 Grange Ruin 0 0 19 Ardmore Ruin 0 2 20 Ardmore Hill Ruin 0 0 21 Kinsalbeg New 0 0 22 Lady's Bridge New 0 0 23 Garrananassig Ruin 0 0 24 Garryvoe Ruinous by 1774 0 0 25 Shanagarry Ruin and New 0 0 26 Churchtown New 0 0 27 Churchtown Ruin 0 0 28 Lismore Famine Cemetery 40 0 29 Coolnagang Ruin 0 0 30 Screhanero No remnants of building 2 0 31 Ringrove 0 1 32 Lisheen Ruin 0 0 33 Timoleague Redone/Prot 0 5 34 Timoleague New 1 0 35 Ardagh Burial Grounds 0 0 36 Leap Ruin 4 2 37 Ballincollig No remnants of building 1 8 38 Carrigrohane Intact/Prot 0 5 39 St. Mary's Cemetery at Mackey's Cross 2 7 40 Cloghan Cross Rds New? 0 1 41 Rathcormac Ruin 0 0 188

PAGE 201

189 42 Midleton, Holy Rosary Intact/Catho 0 16 43 Midleton, St. John Baptist Intact/Prot 0 10 44 Barnane Ruin 2 1 45 Kilworth Intact/Prot 0 8 46 Kilworth New/Cath 0 0 47 Macroney Ruin 0 0 48 Knockaskehane Ruin 0 1 49 Mocollop Ruin 0 15 50 Garrison No remnants of building 0 0 51 Ballyduff Intact/Cath 0 0 52 Flowerhill No remnants of building 0 0 53 Okyle Ruin 0 0 54 Glencairn Cistercian Abbey 1098 0 0 55 Aglish/Glencairn No remnants of building 1 5 56 Kilcrumper Small house 0 11 57 Killeagh Redone Catho 0 12 58 Ballynacorra Ruin 0 0 59 Jamesbrook Graveyard 0 2 60 Scartleigh redone now school 0 0 61 Aghada Upper New 1 0 62 Aghada Upper Ruin 0 0 63 Aghada Upper Old Operating Anglican 0 0 64 Ballincarroohig New graveyard 0 0 65 Whitegate Old Operating Anglican 0 2 66 Whitegate Ruin 0 0 67 Inch Ruin with a new roof! 0 0 68 Ballinrostig New Catholic 0 0 69 Titeskin Ruin 0 0 70 Cloyne New Catholic 0 0 71 Cloyne Being restored Anglican 0 2 72 Churchtown Ruin 1 15 73 Ballyspillane Cr.Rds. Ruin 0 0 74 Broomfield West Burial Grounds 0 0 75 Temlenacarriga 0 2 76 Ightermurragh 0 1 77 Inch new church 0 0 78 Clonpriest ruin 0 0 79 Gortaroo 0 1 80 Kilcredan (Eaglais) 0 0 81 Fermoy (at Y) in use 1 0 82 Mitchelstown in use CofI 0 13 83 Kilacuig in use Cath 0 0 84 Glenroe in use Cath 0 1

PAGE 202

APPENDIX F YEW TREE DATA FROM FOTA AND GLENGARRA WOOD PART 1. FOTA YEW TREE DATA Breast Base Sex Trunk Height in Ft. Silver tag # Circumference Circumference on tree in cm in cm 243 248 Male Single 125 Male Double 198 209 Female Single 109 122 Male Single 168 192 Male Single 105 107 Male Single 136 143 Male Single 240 Male Single 0858 198 Female Double 104 104.5 Male Single 190 202.5 Female Single 162 178 Female Single 0230 159.5 180.5 Female Single 0227 142 182 Male Multiple 189 194 Female Double 157 183 Female Single 240 257 Male Double 0217 115.5 136 Male Single 203 224.5 Female Double 127 150 Female Single 141 171 Female Single 195 213.5 Male Multiple 0207 238 227 Male Double 281 280 Male Single 1847 197 232 Male Single 1846 115 132 Male Single 194 192 Female Double 43 49 Female Single 15 23.5 30 Juvenile Single 179 188.5 Female Double 221 248.5 Male Double 204 231 Female Double 92 110 Female Double 124 137 Female Single 151.5 148 Female Multiple 190

PAGE 203

191 121 Male Single 0166 129 Male Double 0163 91 99.5 Female Single 193.5 193 Female Double 1917 117.5 129 Female 1915 129 149 Single 129 Male Double 169 Female Single 175.5 203 Male Single 146 164 Male Single 179 204 Female 143 173.5 Single 202 Male Double 0026 144.5 Male Single 0027 183 183 Male Single 135 125 Single Female 129 159.5 Multiple Male 214 128.5 0028 212.5 224 Male Double 0025 218 207 Male Multiple 215 204 Female Double 1853 161 180 Male Single 1852 204 206 Female Double 1850 170 208 Female Single 172 166 Male Double 191 228 Male Double 178 201 Male Single 225 241 Unknown Double 183.5 234 Female Single 273 Male Multiple 216 234 Female Single 189 236 Female Multiple 181 222 Female Double 0183 235.5 283 Male Double 181 207 Male Double 178.5 Male Double 157 180 Female Double 190 Male Double 49.5 57 Male Single 25 40 57 Juvenile Single 40 32.5 34 Juvenile Single 18 13 19.5 Juvenile Single 11 29 46 Female Single 20 13 Juvenile Double 6 10 13.5 Juvenile Single 9 Juvenile Double 5.5 11.5 19 Juvenile Single 9 30 40.5 Female Single 18 16.5 28 12.5 Juvenile Double 19 30.5 Female Single 13 16 21 Juvenile Single 10.5 9.5 22 Juvenile Single 7 Juvenile Single 11 5 Juvenile Single 9 17.5 31

PAGE 204

192 11 Juvenile Double 7.5 10 Juvenile Double 5.5 33 Female Double 8.5 13.5 28 Female Single 8 41 Female Double 10 72 Male Single 63.5 76 Male Multiple 193 Male Double Juvenile Single 43.5 Male Single 13 48.5 74 Male Single 9.5 Juvenile Single 3.5 48 70 Female Single 34 45 Female Single 50.5 Female Multiple Juvenile Multiple 0.5 1 Juvenile Single 1.7 28 45 Male Single 10 Juvenile Single 4 21 33 Male Single 10.5 Juvenile Single 5.5 80 Male Multiple 40 47 Female Single Male Multiple 95 Female Multiple 15 20 Juvenile Double 7 13 Juvenile Single 23 32.5 Juvenile Single 29.5 52.5 Female Single 29 46 Male Double 32.5 56.5 Juvenile Single 52.5 79 Male Single 32.5 Juvenile Double 16.5 22 Juvenile Single 16 28 36 Juvenile Single 39 49 Juvenile Single 21 Juvenile Multiple 10 29 40 Juvenile Single 62 Female Multiple 41 Juvenile Multiple 22 30 Juvenile Single 29 37 Juvenile Single 25 20.5 28.5 Juvenile Double 16 Juvenile Multiple 50 Female Multiple 28 Juvenile Multiple 7.5 242 238 Female Single 141 161 Male Single 166 106 118 Female Double 14 1 37.5 6 13 Juvenile Single 6 21 Juvenile Single

PAGE 205

193 175.5 232 Female Single 0120 261 272 Male Double 0111 259 263 Male Multiple 0104 187.5 239 Male Single 269 273 Female Double 156 222.5 Female Multiple 221 246 Female Single 208 244 Male Double 207 209 Female Double 183.5 199 Female Multiple 132 151 Male Single 184 230 Female Double 250 Female Double 244.5 257.5 Female Multiple 204 244 Female Single 229 235.5 Female Double 0081 141 194 Male Single 241 247.5 Female Multiple 170 201 Female Single 149 167 Female Single 297 Male Double 34.5 49 Juvenile Single 29.5 Juvenile Single 26 42 Juvenile Single 10.5 15.5 Female Single 10 24 Juvenile Double 12 Juvenile Double 5.5 14 24.5 Juvenile Single 10 32 47 Female Single 26 Juvenile Double 16 22.5 Juvenile Double 22 Juvenile Multiple 6.5 16 Juvenile Single 7 31 36.5 Juvenile Single 3 5 Juvenile Single 5.5 81.5 Female Multiple 26.5 39 Juvenile Single 70 91 Female Single 4.5 10.5 Juvenile Single 6 23 Juvenile Double 11 11.5 18 Juvenile Single 12 6.5 15 Juvenile Single 6 11 Juvenile Multiple 6 19

PAGE 206

194 PART 2. GLENGARRA YEW TREE DATA Breast Base Sex Trunk Height in ft. Circumference Circumference in cm 32 59 Male Single 215 Male Multiple 219 Male Multiple Juvenile 9 78 Female 136.5 Male Multiple 70.5 Female Multiple 255 Female Single Male Single 179 199 Male Single 41.5 50 Juvenile 210 Male Juvenile 172.5 196.5 Male Single 99 Male Multiple 65 73 Female Single 13 17.5 Juvenile 89 93.5 Male Single 106 107 Female Single Female 207 Unknown Multiple 11 Juvenile 6.5 Juvenile 6 15 128.5 Male Double Female Single 96 Male Double Juvenile Single 11 6 Juvenile 14 81 Juvenile Multiple 35 41 Juvenile Single 54 66 Juvenile Double 22 36 Juvenile Single 24 40 Juvenile Single 30 45.5 Juvenile Single 23.5 34 Juvenile Single 31.5 47 Single Juvenile 7.5 17 Juvenile Single 39.5 62 Single Female 51.5 86 Male Single in cm 255 Female Multiple 187 189 Female Single 234 218 Single 53.5 68 97 Male 174 Multiple 18 Juvenile Juvenile Juvenile Juvenile 24.5 Juvenile 49 69 20 36.5 8 14.5 Juvenile Single 14.5 19 Single

PAGE 207

195 61.5 96 Double Male Female 34 Juvenile Multiple Female Single Juvenile Single 43.5 Juvenile Single Juvenile 47 66 Male Single Single Single Single Juvenile 36 50 Juvenile Single 20 19 31 Juvenile Single 20 Juvenile Single 13 23 Juvenile Juvenile Single 58 81 Juvenile Male Single 36 Juvenile Female Double 28 Juvenile Juvenile Single 35 Juvenile Juvenile Double 27.5 34 Juvenile Juvenile Multiple 29 45 Juvenile Juvenile Single 12 21 Juvenile Female Multiple 31 60 Juvenile Juvenile Double 38 57.5 Female Juvenile Single 79 121 Male Single 41.5 72 Juvenile Single 45.5 Juvenile Female Multiple 52 Juvenile Male Single 68 Female Male Single 83 Male Female Double 50 Juvenile 45 Juvenile Double Male 50 63 Female Single Male 41 54.5 Juvenile Single 38.5 59 Multiple 38.5 65 17 23 Juvenile Single 13.5 24 32.5 8 16 Single 18 26 Juvenile 20.5 37 Juvenile 20 32 54.5 Male 19.5 40 Single 8.5 16 7 Single 12 5.5 12 6.5 Single 40 53.5 80.5 Multiple 36 58 Double 18.5 27 Double 24 Double 33 Single 11 18 Double 43 47 Single 29 45 13 Single 22 36 Multiple 37 Double 44 64 46 Single 81 108 Multiple 112 43 Single 72 111 Single 54.5 66 Single

PAGE 208

196 31.5 45 20 Juvenile Single Juvenile 68 Female Double Female 37 46 Male Single 16 30 Juvenile Single 12 29.5 38 Juvenile Single 30 Male 54 64 Single Juvenile Juvenile Double 207 223 Male 185 Female 213 Female Single 90 Male Single 138 Female Double 191 Female Double 210 Female Double 213.5 255.5 Unknown Single 176 200 Unknown Single 173.5 189 Female Single 156.5 191 Male Single 213.5 230 Male Double Male Double 147.5 178 Female Double 128 Female Double 187 Male Multiple 167 Male Multiple 170 Female Multiple 195 Female Multiple 235.5 M/F Graft Multiple 202 Female Multiple 183 Female Double 121 156 Male Single Female 263 Male Multiple 128.5 167 Female Single 153 183 Unknown Single 226 Male Multiple 188 204.5 Male Single 215 Female Double 255 Female Multiple 219 Female Multiple 239 Female Multiple 275 Female Multiple 160.5 176 Male Single 233 Female Multiple 124 Unknown Double 142 176 Female Single 225 262 Female Multiple 192.5 221 Female Multiple 235 Unknown Double 33 Double 12 88 Double 53 63 Single 40 10.5 16 Single 224 Female Double 161 Single

PAGE 209

197 254 Male Multiple Unknown 170 178 Male Double 163.5 207 Unknown Multiple 140 179 Female Single 91 99 Female Single 117 129 Female Single 268 Unknown Multiple 201.5 250 Unknown Multiple 150 Female Multiple 165 155 Female Multiple 155 Unknown Multiple 208 242 Unknown Multiple 152.5 228 Unknown Multiple 144 221 Male Single 242 Female Multiple 186 Male Multiple 171 167 Female Double 221 247 Female Single 155.5 179 Unknown Single 122 229 Female Multiple 187 Male Double 169.5 185 Unknown Multiple 210 232 Unknown Double 104 120 Female Single 188 Female Multiple 194 Female Multiple 173 194 Unknown Double 147 Male Double 194 185 Male Multiple 144 174 Male Single 201 214 Male Double 153 176 Male Single 227 Male Multiple 177.5 207 Male Single 183 Female Double 120 134 Unknown Multiple 135 192 Male Single 121 152 Female Multiple 160 182 Unknown Multiple 269 Male Multiple 205 Female Multiple 180 224 Male Multiple 138.5 176 Unknown Single 268 Unknown Multiple Female Double 207 Female Multiple 202.5 221 Female Multiple 203 220 Male Multiple 130 Unknown Single 219 Unknown Multiple 105 142 Female Single 203 101

PAGE 210

198 275 Female Multiple 170 210 Unknown Multiple 149 186 Female Single 193 Male Multiple 150 172 Female Single Male Multiple 179 Unknown Multiple 141 163 Female Multiple 244 243 Unknown Multiple 191 Female Multiple 137 Female Multiple 184 187 Female Double 96 170 Female Double Unknown Double 130 169 Female Single 146 159 Unknown Multiple 120 151.5 Female Single 169 Female Double 181 211 Male Single 216 264 Unknown Single 246 Female Multiple 209 Male Multiple 193 Female Multiple 180 Female Multiple 176.5 Female Multiple 247 Male Multiple 211 Unknown Multiple 181 Female Multiple 254 Female Multiple 141 136 Unknown Multiple 207 Male Multiple 250 Female Multiple 93 163 Unknown Double 328 Female Multiple 143 170 Female Single 128 141 Female Single 146 195 Male Multiple 242 Male Multiple 129 Unknown Multiple 180.5 213 Male Double 39.5 54 Juvenile Single 24.5 34 Juvenile Single 23.5 40 Female Double 131.5 Female Multiple 129 Female Multiple 206 Unknown Multiple 232.5 Unknown Multiple 197 Female Multiple 199 Male Double 190 Male Multiple 206 Male Multiple 56 82 Female Double 10 150 174 191 181 160

PAGE 211

199 28 37 Juvenile Single 20 46.5 53.5 Female Single 73 Male Multiple 42 54.5 Female Single

PAGE 212

200 LIST OF REFERENCES PRIA : Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy JCHAS : Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society Aas, G. and Riedmiller, A. 1994. Trees of Britain and Europe. London: Harper Collins. Aegean Dendrochronology Project. 1997. D ecember Progress Report New York: Cornell University. Allanson Winn, R.G. 1903. The Youghal Foreshore Protection Works; and Deep SeaErosion on the East Coast of England Youghal: Robert Cochrane. Alexander, Rebecca W. 2001. Teasing apart the Taxol pathway Trends in Biochemical Sciences 26: 152. Anderson, Edgar. 1952. Plants, Man, and Life. Boston: Little, Brown. Andrews, J.H. 1985. Plantation Acres: An Historical Study of the Irish Land Surveyors and his Maps. Ulster: Ulster Historical Foundation. Antiqu es Road Show. 2002. Aired in Florida on June 7 th 2002. Aoyama, M., Tsuda, M., Cho, N.S. and Doi, S. 2000. Adsorption of trivalent chromium from dilute solution by conifer leaves. Wood Science and Technology 34: 55 63. Ascham, Roger. 1545. Toxophilus: The school of shooting In: Simon Archery Foundation. 1985. Roger Aschams Toxophilus. Manchester: The Simon Archer Foundation. Balick, Michael J. and Cox, P.A. 1996. Plants, People, and Culture: the Science of Ethnobotany. New York: Scientific American Libra ry. Ballads. 1810? Ballads: Greenwich Pensioner Limerick: W. Goggin. (Housed in the British Library. Shelfmark: 11622.df.51) Barry, Ann and Hoppen K. 1978. Borough politics in OConnellite Ireland: the Youghal poll books of 1835 and 1837. JCHAS LXXXIII: 106 146.

PAGE 213

201 Bartkowiak, S. 1975. Seed dispersal by birds. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic In formation. Behre, K.E. 1988. The role of man in European vegetation history. In : Huntley, B. and T.Webb III (eds). Vegetation History Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Behre, K.E. 1981. T he interpretation of anthropogenic indicators in pollen diagra ms. Pollen et Spores 23: 15 245 Benett, K.D. 1989. A provisional map of forest types for the British Isles 5,000 years ago. Journal of Quaternary Science 4: 141 144. Benett, K.D. 1986. Competitive interactions among forest tree populations in Norfolk, Eng land, during the last 10,000 years. New Phytologist 103: 603 620. Bialobok, S. 1975. Preface. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center fo r Scientific, Technical and Economic Information. Birks, H.J.B. 1999. Presented at Pollen Analysis Course, November. London: University College London. Birks, Hilary H. (ed). 1988. The Cultural Landscape: Past, Present and Future. New York: Cambridge Univ ersity Press. Birks, H.J.B. and Gordon, A.D. 1985. Numerical Methods in Quaternary Pollen Analysis London: Academic Press. Boate, Girard. 1652. Irelands Naturalle History: Being a true and ample description of its situation, greatness, shape, and nature; of its hills, woods, heaths, bogs London: Samuell Hartlib, Esq. Briggs, Barbara. 1936. Trees of Britain, Their Form and Character London: Lutterworth Press. Brimble, L.J.F. 1946. Trees in Britain London: MacMillan and Co. Ltd. Brindley, A.L., and Lanting J.N. 1991. A boat of the Mediterranean tradition in Ireland: preliminary note. Int J Nautical Archaeol 20: 69 70. Buchanan, Margaret. 1979. Archery in Scotland: An elegant and manly amusement. Glasgow: Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries. Buckley, M.J.S. 1900. The town walls of Youghal. JCHAS 6: 156 161.

PAGE 214

202 Bugala, W. 1975. Systematics and Variability. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Cente r for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information. Burke, Edmond. 1958. The History of Archery London: Heinemann. Cahill, Thomas. 1995. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Irelands Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Me dieval Europe New York: Doubleday. Calendar of State Papers Relating to Ireland 1509 1573. Campbell, Elizabeth, and Nicholson, Alison. 1995. A Summary of Western Yew Biology with Recommendations for its Management in British Columbia. Province of British Columbia: Ministry of Forests Research Program. Census of Ireland. 1863. Census of Ireland for the year 1851. Part I. Area, Population, and Number of Houses, by Townlands and Electoral Divisions. Vol. II. Province of Munster. Dublin: Alexander Thomas. Ch andler, J. 1992. Old Mens Fancies: the Case of the Churchyard Yew In: Vickery, Roy. 1995. A dictionary of plant lore. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chappellaz J.M., Blunier T., Ratnaud D., Barnola J.M., Schwander J. & Stauffer B. 1993. Synchronous cha nges in atmospheric CH4 and Greenland climate between 40 and 8 kyr BP. Nature 366: 443 445. Chetan, Anand, and Brueton, Diana. 1994. The Sacred Yew: Rediscovering the ancient Tree of Life through the work of Allen Meredith London: Penguin Books. Cleary, R.M. 1997. Excavations at Chapel Lane, Youghal. JCHAS 102:23 40. Coles, J.M, and Hibbert, F.A. 1972. A Neolithic wooden mallet from the Somerset Levels. Antiquity 46: 52 54. Condon, Justin Callaghan. 1945. Trade and commerce of the town of Youghal. JCHA S 50: 117 124. Connellan. 1860. The Proceedings of the Great Bardic Institution in which is Explained how the Tain was First Discovered, etc Dublin: John ODaly. Coxon, P. and O'Connell, M. (Eds) 1994. Clare Island and Inishbofin. Field Guide No. 17 Dub lin: Irish Association for Quaternary Studies. Cross, F.L. (ed). 1997. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church Oxford: Oxford University Press.

PAGE 215

203 Crotty, Raymond D. 1966. Irish Agricultural Production its Volume and Structure Cork: Cork University Pr ess. Czartoryski, A. 1975. Yew in the past. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information. Dallimore, W. 1908. Holly, Yew and Box: With Chapters on Other Evergreens London: John Lane. Daniewski, W.M, Gumulka, M., Anczewski, W., Masnyk, M., Bloszyk, E. and Gupta, K.K. 1998. Why the yew tree ( Taxus baccata ) is not attacked by insects. Phytochemis try 49: 1279 1282. Davison, Michael W. 2001. Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain London: Readers Digest Association Limited. Day, Robert. 1903. Cookes memoirs of Youghal, 1749. JCHAS 9:34 63. Devoy, Robert. 1984. Quaternary environments in the area of Cork city. Irish Quaternary Association Newsletter 7, 1 18. Dineley (Dingley), Thomas. 1681. Observations on a Tour of Ireland Made in 1681 Dublin: National Library. MS 392, microfilm 7515. Dodson, John R., and Bradshaw, Richard H. 1987. A h istory of vegetation and fire, 6,600 B.P. to present, County Sligo, western Ireland. Boreas. 16: 113 123. Donnelly, J.S. Jr. 1975. The Land and the People of 19 th Century Cork London: Routledge. Doss, R.P., Carney J.R., Shanks C.H. Jr., Williamson R.T., a nd Chamberlain J.D 1997. Two new taxoids from European yew ( Taxus baccata ) that act as pyrethroid insecticide synergists with the black vine weevil ( Otiorhynchus sulcatus ). Journal of Natural Products 60: 1130 1133. Dowling, Laura A., Sejrup, Hans Pette r, Coxon, Peter, Heijnis, Hendrick. 1998. Palynology, aminostratigraphy and U series dating of marine Gortian Interglacial sediments in Cork Harbour, Southern Ireland. Quaternary Science Reviews 17: 945 962. Down, K. 1976. Colonial society and economy in the high middle ages. In: Moody et al. A New History of Ireland II: Medieval Ireland 1169 1534 Oxford: Clarendon Press. Duncan, James S. 1990. The City as Text: the Politics of Landscape Interpretation in the Kandyan Kingdom New York: Cambridge Universit y Press.

PAGE 216

204 Edwards, K.J. and McDonald, G.M. 1991. Holocene Palynology: II human influence and vegetation change. Progress in Physical Geography 15: 364 391. Edwards, K.J. and Warren W.P. 1985. The Quaternary History of Ireland. London: Academic Press Edwa rds, Kevin J., and Whittington, Graeme. 1997. A 12,000 year record of environmental change in the Lomond Hills, Fife, Scotland: vegetational and climatic variability. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 6: 133 152. El Kassaby, Y.A. and Yanchuk A.D. 2001. Genetic diversity, differentiation, and inbreeding in Pacific yew from British Columbia. Elsevier Faegri, Knut, and Iverson, Johs. 1989. Text Book of Modern Pollen Analysis Copenhagen: E. Munksgaard. Feldman, R., Szajewski, J. M., Chrobak, J., Liberek, Z. M. 1987. Four cases of self poisoning with yew leaves decoction. Vet. Hum. Toxicol 29: 72. Field, W.G. 1896. The Hand Book for Youghal. Youghal. Flanagan, Deirdre and Laurence. 1994. Irish Place Names Dublin: Gill & MacMillan. Florin, Rudolf. 1948. On the morphology and relationships of the Taxaceae. Botanical Gazette September 1948: p31. Ford, Horace.1887. The Theory and Practice of Archery. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Fossit, J.A. 1994. Late Glacial and Holocene vegetation history of western Do negal, Ireland. PRIA 94B: 1 31. Foster, D.R. and D.A. Orwig. 1996. Ecological and conservation insights from the reconstructive studies of temperate old growth forests. Tree Fox Davies, Arthur Charles. 1894. The Book of Public Arms: A Cyclopaedia Edinbu rgh: T.C. and E.C. Jack. Frankovich, Nicholas.1997. The Columbia Grangers Index to Poetry 11 th ed. NY: Columbia University Press. Geological Survey of Ireland. 1994. Geology of South Cork. Dublin: Department of Transport, Energy and Communications. Gibs on, Alex, and Simpson, Derek (ed). 1998. Prehistoric Ritual and Religion Bridgend: Sutton. Gordon, Paul H. 1939. The New Archery: Hobby, Sport, and Craft New York: D. Appleton Century Company

PAGE 217

205 Glacken, C.J. 1967. Traces on the Rhodian Shore, Nature and Cu lture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press. Glover, W. 1979. A prehistoric bow fragment from Drumwhinny Bog, Kesh, Co. Fermanagh. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 45: 3 23 327. Godwin, H. 1956. History of the Flora of the British Isles Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Godwin, H. 1940. Pollen analysis and forest history of England and Wales. New Phytologist 39: 370 400. Godwin, H. 1934. Pollen analysis. An outline of the problems and potentialities of the method. Part I. Technique and interpretation. Pollen Analysis 33: 278 305. Groth, Paul and Bressi, Todd W. 1997. Understanding Ordinary Landscapes New Haven: Yale University Press. Hackett, Mike. 1996. St. Mary s Parish Church Youghal: Bi Centenary 1796 1996. Youghal: Mike Hackett. Harbison, Peter. 1973. P.Burkes painting of Youghal: The earliest known signed townscape by an Irish artist. JCHAS 78: 66 79 Hardy, Robert. 1976. Longbow, a Social and Military Hist ory Cambridge: Patrick Stephens Limited. Harris, Walter. 1739. The Whole Works of Sir James Ware Concerning Ireland: Revised and Improved. Dublin: E. Jones. Hartzell, H. 1991. The Yew Tree: A Thousand Whispers Eugene: Hulogosi. Hayman, Rev. Samuel. 1879 On an ogham stone found built into the wall of a house close to St. Johns Priory, Youghal. Royal Historical and Archaeological Association Ireland. 4 th series (5;1879 1882): p38 40. Hayman, Rev. Samuel. 1860. Guide to Youghal, Ardmore and the Black Wate r Youghal: John Lindsay. Heerwagen, J.H. and Orians, G.H. 1993. Humans, habitats and aesthetics. In: The Biophilia Hypothesis Kellert, S.R. and Wilson E.O. Washington D.C.: Island Press. 138 172. Hejnowicz, A. 1975. Anatomy, embryology and karyology. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information.

PAGE 218

206 Heraldic Artists. 1980. The Symbols of Heraldr y Explained Dublin: Heraldic Artists Ltd. Hirons, K.R. and Edwards K.J.. 1986. Events at and around the first and second Ulmus declines: palaeoecological investigations in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. New Phytologist 104: 131 153. Holdaway, R., and Jaco mb, C. 2000. Rapid Extinction of the Moas (Aves: Dinornithiformes): Model, Test, and Implications. Science 287: p. 2250 2254. Hulme, Philip E. 1996. Natural regeneration of yew ( Taxus baccata L.): microsite, seed or herbivore limitation? Journal of Ecology 84: 853 861. Huntley, B. and Birks, H.J.B. 1983. At Atlas of Past and Present Pollen Maps for Europe 0 13,000 Years Ago. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Huntley, B. and Webb T. III (Eds). 1988. Vegetation History Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publis hers. Irwin, Liam. 1980. Politics, religion and economy: Cork in the 17 th century. JCHAS LXXXV: 7 25. Jackson, J.B. 1951. Ghosts at the door. In: Helen Horowitz (ed). 1997. Landscape and Sight. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jaspersen Schib R., Theus, L. Guirguis Oeschger, M. et al. 1996. Acute poisonings with toxic plants in Switzerland between 1966 and 1994. Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift 126. Jefferies, Henry A. 1985. The history and topography of Viking Cork. JCHAS XC: 14 25. Jennewein S. and Croteau, R. 2001. Taxol: biosynthesis, molecular genetics, and biotechnological applications. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 57: 13 19. Joachim, Werner. 1986. A review of the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Some remarks, thoughts, and proposals a rising from Sutton Hoo Volume 3. Germania 64: 465 497. Joyce, P.W. 1990. Irish Local Names Explained. London: BT Batsford Ltd. Keen, R.A. 1956. A Study of the Genus Taxus Ohio: Ohio State University, Department of Horticulture and Forestry. Kelly, Fergus 1999. Trees in early Ireland. Irish Forestry 56: 39 57. Kite, G.C., Lawrence, T.J., and Dauncey E.A. 2000. Detecting Taxus poisoning in horses using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Veterinary and Human Toxicology.

PAGE 219

207 Klein, Richard M. 1987. The Gr een World; An Introduction to Plants and People (2 nd edition). New York: Harper and Row. Latham, Agnes, and Youings, Joyce. 1999. The Letters of Sir Walter Ralegh Exter: University of Exeter Press. Lavelle, F., Combeau, C., and Commercon A. 1995. Taxoids: Structural and Experimental Properties. Bulletin du Cancer. 82: p.249 264. Levitin, E. and McMahon, K. 1996. Plants and Society Toronto: William C. Brown. Lewis, Samuel. 1837. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland London: S. Lewis and Co. Lewis, Peirce. 1976. Axioms for reading the landscape: some guides to the American scene. In: Donald Meinig (ed). The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscape: Geographical Essays. New York: Oxford University Press. Lewandowski, A., Burczyk, J., and Mejnartowicz, L. 1995. Genetic structure of English yew ( Taxus baccata L.) in the Wierzchlas Reserve: Implications for genetic conservation. Forest Ecology and Management 73: 221 227. Lind, Ivan. 1962. Geography and Place Names. In : Wagner, Philip L., and Mikesell, Marvin, W. R eadings in Cultural Geography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Longfield, Ada. 1924. Anglo Irish trade in the 16 th century as illustrated by the English customs accounts and port books. PRIA XXXVIC: 317 332. Lord, T. 1784. The Ancient and Present St ate of Youghall Housed at University College Dublin, Special Collections. Loudon, J.C. 1844. Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum London: J.D. Loudon. Lucas, A.T. 1972. Prehistoric block wheels from Doogarymore, Co. Roscommon, and Timahoe East, Co. Kildar e. J Roy Soc Antiq Ir 102: 19 48. Lucas, A.T. 1963. The sacred trees of Ireland. JCHAS LXVIII: 16 54. Lyne, Gerard J. 1986. Lewis Dillwyns visit to Waterford, Cork and Tipperary in 1809. JCHAS 91: 85 104. Lyne, G.J. and Mitchell, M.E. 1985. A scientific tour through Munster: the travels of Joseph Woods, architect and botanist, in 1809. North Munster Antiquarian Journal 27: 15 61. MacAnTsaoir, Iain. 1999. Facts About The Ogham Alphabet Tennessee: Clannada na Gadelica Available at www.clannada.org/docs/ ogham.html MacManus, Seumas. 1921. The Story of the Irish Race Connecticut: Devin Adair Co.

PAGE 220

208 MacManus, Seumas. 1944. The Story of the Irish race New York: Irish publishing. Maldonado, Javier. 2002. Unpublished polled diagram of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. P rovided by Fraser Mitchell on January 25, 2002. Trinity University, Dublin. Malins, Edward and Bowe, Patrick. 1980. Irish Gardens and Demesnes from 1830. London: Barrie & Jenkins. Martin, P. S. 1986. Refuting late Pleistocene extinction models. In Elliot, D.K. (ed.) Dynamic Extinction NY: Wiley & Sons. McCracken, Donal P. and McCracken, Eileen. 1976. A register of trees, Co. Cork, 1790 1860. JCHAS LXXXI: 39 60. McCracken, E. 1957. Charcoal Burning Ironworks in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Ireland. U lster Journal of Archaeology XX: 123 138. McCracken, E. 1971. The Irish Woods Since Tudor Times Belfast: David and Charles. Meyen, S. G. 1987. Fundamentals of Palaeobotany London: Chapman and Hall. Milner, J.E. 1992. The Tree Book: the Indispensable Gui de to Tree Facts, Crafts and Lore. London: Collins and Brown. Mitchell, Don. 2000. Cultural Geography: Themes, Concepts, Analyses Ontario: Oxford University Press. Mitchell, F., and M. Ryan. 1998. Reading the Irish Landscape Dublin: Town House. Mitchell, F.J.G. 1988. The vegetational history of the Killarney Oakwoods, SW Ireland: Evidence from fine spatial resolution pollen analysis. Journal of Ecology. 76: 415 436. Mitchell, F.J.G. 1990. The history and vegetation dynamics of a yew wood (Taxus baccata L. ) in S.W. Ireland. New Phytologist 115: 573 577. Mitchell, G.F. 1965. Littleton Bog, Tipperary: An Irish agricultural record. Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 95: 121 132. Moir, A.K. 1999. The dendrochronological potential of modern yew (Taxus baccata) with special reference to yew from Hampton Court Palace, UK. New Phytologist 144: 479 488. Molloy, K. and O'Connell, M. 1991. Palaeoecological investigations towards the reconstruction of woodland and land use history at Lough Sheeaun s, Connemara, western Ireland. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 67: 75 113. Moore, P.D. and Webb, J.A. 1978. An Illustrated Guide to Pollen Analysis New York: John Wiley.

PAGE 221

209 Neeson, E. 1991. A History of Irish Forestry Dublin: Lilliput Press. Nelson, E. Charles, and Walsh, Wendy F. 1993. Trees of Ireland: Native and Naturalized Dublin: Lilliput Press. Nicolle, David. 2000. Crecy 1346: The Triumph of the Longbow Oxford: Osprey. Northe Ditties. 1780? Northe Ditties: Three Excellent Songs Newcastle. Ho used in the British Library. Shelfmark: 11621.b.6 Oakley, Kenneth P., Andrews, P., Keeley, L.H., and Clark J.D. 1977. A reappraisal of the Clacton spearpoint. Proceedings of the Preshistoric Society 43: 13 30. OBrien, A.F. 1986. Medieval Youghal: the dev elopment of an Irish seaport trading town, c.1200 to c.1500. Peritia 5: 346 378. OBrien, A. F. 1982. The settlement of Imokilly and the formation and descent of the Manor of Inchiquin, Co. Cork. JCHAS. LXXXVII: 21 26. OBrien, John B. 1975. The land and the people of 19 th century Cork. JCHAS LXXX: 95 101. O Buachalla, Liam. 1959. Notes and queries: Foaty and other Cork harbour islands. JCHAS LXIV: 131 134. OConnell, Charles. 1945. The structure and topography of Imokilly. JCHAS L: 1 5. OConnell, Mic hael. 2001. Hand out of the Irish Quaternary Association meeting. Oct. 12 th 14 th 2001. Pollen diagrams from McDonnell, 1988. O'Connell, M., Molloy, K. and Bowler, M. 1988. Post glacial landscape evolution in Connemara, western Ireland with particular refe rence to woodland history. In : Birks, H.H., Birks, H.J.B., Kaland, P.E. and Moe, D. (Eds). The Cultural Landscape Past, Present and Future Cambridge University Press. 487 514. OConnor, Patrick J. 2001. Atlas of Irish Place Names Newcastle West: Oireac ht na Mumhan. ODonovan, John. 1940. The Economic History of Live Stock in Ireland. Cork: Cork University Press. OFlanagan, 1979. Colonization and County Cork's changing cultural landscape: the evidence from placenames. JCHAS LXXXIV: 1 14. O Murchadha, D iarmuid. 1982. Insovenach: a reconsideration. JCHAS LXXXVII:142 3. OSullivan, Aidan. 1990. Wood in archaeology. Archaeology Ireland 4: 69 73.

PAGE 222

210 OSullivan, Aidan. 1993. The use of trees and woodland in early medieval Ireland. Irish Forestry 51:80 94. Per lin, J. 1991. A Forest Journey: The Role of Wood in the Development of Civilization. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Power, Denis. 1997. Archaeological Inventory of County Cork : Volumes 1 3. Dublin: Stationary Office. Rackham, O. 1980. Ancient Woodlan d: Its History, Vegetaion and Uses in England London: Edward Arnold Ltd. Ramage, Craufurd Tait. 1871. The calculated age of yew trees in Guilsfield churchyard. Collections Historical and Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire 4: 443 445. Rates, S.M. K. 2001. Plants as source of drugs. Toxicon 39: 603 613. Registrar General of Ireland. 1984. General alphabetical index to the townlands and towns, parishes, and baronies of Ireland : based on the census of Ireland for the year 1851. Baltimore: Genealogi cal Pub. Co. Roberts, Kate Louise (ed). 1923. Hoyts New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co. Rogers, J.E. 1935. The Tree Book New York: Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc. Rynne, Etienne. 1971. A late medieval casket from Knockm ore, Co. Clare. N Munster Antiq J. 14: 37 40. Seaby, W.A. 1966. Yew drinking cup from Co. Fermanagh. Ulster Journal of Archaeology. 29:138 142. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. 1863. Extracts from the journal of Thomas Dineley, Esquire, giving some account of his v isit to Ireland in the reign of Charles II. JRSAI Vol VIII: p272. Schultes, Richard E. and von Reis, Siri. 1995. Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline. Portland: Dioscorides Press. Scrivenor, Harry. 1967. History of the Iron Trade London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. Smith, A.G., and Pilcher, J.R. 1973. Radiocarbon Dates and Vegetational History of the British Isles. New Phytologist 72: 903 914. Smith, Malcolm. 2000. Heres looking at yew kid. The Times December 23, 2000. Soar, Hugh D. 2001. Letter Traditio nal Archery, Yew Corner, 29 Batley Court, Oldland, South Gloucestershire, England. December 15 th 2001.

PAGE 223

211 Srodon, A. 1975. History of the Yew in Poland. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scie ntific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information. Svenning, Jens Christian, and Magard, Else. 1999. Population ecology and conservation status of the last natural population of English yew Taxus bacc ata in Denmark. Biological Conservation 88: 173 182. Szaniawski, R.K. 1975. An outline of yew physiology. In : Bialobok, S. (ed). The Yew Taxus baccata L. (Cis Pospolity Taxus baccata L.) Poland: Foreign Scientific Publications Department of the National Center for Scientific, Technical and Economic Information. Tittensor, R.M. 1980. Ecological History of yew Taxus baccata L. in southern England. Biological Conservation Vickery, Roy. 1995. A Dictionary of Plant Lore Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vi dal, Michel. 1976. The decorated wooden bucket from Vielle Toulouse (Haute Garonne, France): comparative study of La Tene III buckets. Gallia 34: 167 200. Voliotis, D. 1986. Historical and environmental significance of the yew ( Taxus Baccata L.) Israel Jo urnal of Botany 35: 47 52. W.G. Field Printers. 2001. Old Woodcut c.1850. Youghal. Waterman, D.M. 1969. An early Medieval horn from the River Erne. Ulster Journal of Archaeology 32: 101 104. Watson, George (ed). 1969. The new Cambridge bibliography of En glish literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Watt, A.S. 1926. Yew communities of the South Downs. Journal of Ecology. 14: 282 316. West, R.G. 1962. A note on Taxus pollen in the Hoxnian Interglacial. New Phytologist. 61: 189 190. Wilkinson, G. 1973. Trees in the Wild: and Other Trees and Shrubs London: Stephan Hope Books Ltd. Wilson, Christina R, Sauer, John Michael, and Hooser, Stephan B. 2001. Taxines: a review of the mechanism and toxicity of yew ( Taxus spp .) alkaloids. Toxicon 39: 175 185. Woodman, P.C. 1984. The early prehistory of Munster. JCHAS LXXXIX: 1 11.

PAGE 224

212 Wright, Thomas. 1863. The Historical Works of Giraldus Cambrensis Containing the Topography of Ireland, and the History of the Conquest of Ireland, Translated by Thomas Forester Lo ndon: H.G. Bohn. Young, Arthur. 1925. A Tour in Ireland with General Observations on the Present State of That Kingdom Made in the Years 1776, 1777 and 1778 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

PAGE 225

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH The author was born in England, is of English/Irish ancestry, and holds a bachelor's degree in natural resource planning and interpretation and a master's degree in Geography. 213


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0000522/00001

Material Information

Title: Religion, war, and changing landscapes: an historical and ecological account of the yew tree (Taxus Baccata L.) in Ireland
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Creator: Delahunty, J. L. ( Author, Primary )
Publication Date: 2002
Copyright Date: 2002

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0000522:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0000522/00001

Material Information

Title: Religion, war, and changing landscapes: an historical and ecological account of the yew tree (Taxus Baccata L.) in Ireland
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Creator: Delahunty, J. L. ( Author, Primary )
Publication Date: 2002
Copyright Date: 2002

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0000522:00001


This item has the following downloads:


Full Text












RELIGION, WAR, AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES:
AN HISTORICAL AND ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
OF THE YEW TREE (Taxus baccata L.) IN IRELAND













By


J. L. DELAHUNTY


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2002




























This work is dedicated to the Lord and Mickey.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I cannot thank my assistants, both friends and family, in Ireland enough: Colin

McCowan, Richard and Judy Delahunty, Con Foley, Tom Millane, and Dr. Lee. I also

wish to thank my family and friends in America who aided tremendously in this

endeavor: Olivia Perry-Smith, Art Frieberg, Desiree Price, Terry Lucansky, Tim Burke,

and John Stockwell. Of course, I could not have done this without help from my mentors

at the Geography Department: Mike Binford, Pete Waylen, and Ary Lamme. Other

academics who aided in this research were William Kenney, Mark Brenner, Jason

Curtis, David Dilcher, Fraser Mitchell, Edwina Cole, Tara Nolan, Bob Devoy, Mike

Baillie, and David Brown. Finally, I give thanks to the Lord for creating the majestic yew

tree and the beautiful island of Ireland and blessing me with the finest of family and

friends.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS
page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ......... .................................................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES ......... ..................... ........... ... .. ...... .............. viii

LIST OF FIGURES ......... ......................... ...... ........ ............ ix

ABSTRACT .............. ................. .......... .............. xi

CHAPTER

1 IN TRODU CTION .................. ............................ ............. .............. .

T he Y ew T ree--A C cultural Icon ............................................................................ 1
N nature and Civilization .................. .................................... ................ .2
The Y ew Trees (G enus Taxus) ............................................................. .....................3
The Comm on Yew (Taxus baccata L.)................................................. ....... ........ 4
Substance and Organization of D issertation.................................................................6

2 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE PREHISTORY TO
TH E 19TH CEN TU R Y ......... .................................. .........................................11

Introduction ............... ............ ...........................11
The Yew in Place N am es (Toponym s) .................................... ............ ..................11
C eltic R everence of Y ew Trees ....................................... .................... ....................16
Christian R everence of Y ew Trees .................................. ............................................21
The Yew and Craftsmanship in Northwestern Europe ...............................................22
The Y ew in Literature ......................................... ............... .. ...... .... 23
Y ew L ongbow s ................................................................................................... ....... 25
The Yew in Heraldry ............................... ... ..... .. ...... ............... 29
T he Y ew in A rt ................................................................... 30
S u m m a ry ..................................................................................3 0

3 THE YEW ON THE PREHISTORIC AND HISTORIC LANDSCAPE.....................36

Introduction to the Yew in Palynological Analyses .............. ...................................36
Section 1: The Prehistoric and Historic Abundance of Yew in Ireland and the
Political and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual
D e c lin e .................................................................. .. 3 9
The Early Postglacial/Boreal and Mesolithic Culture.................. ........... 42









The Atlantic Period and N eolithic Culture................................. .................... 43
The Sub-Boreal Period and the Copper and Bronze Ages.................................. 46
The Sub-Atlantic Period, the Celtic Culture, and the Iron Age ............................ 47
The Celts and the Coming of Christianity ................................................... 48
The Changes of the 12th Century and the Norman Invasion............... ............. 50
The House of Tudor and the House of Stuart ............................................. .. 52
Ireland's Losses............................... ........... .............. 54
A Changed Icon ....................................... ..........................56
Sum m ary of the R regional A analysis ........................................................... ... 56
Section 2: The Prehistoric and Historic Presence of Yew in Youghal and the
Physical, Political, and Economical Environment that Influenced its
Eventual D decline .................................... ................. ..... ..... 57
Introduction to Y oughal ................................................ ............................. 58
A brief history .............. ................................................................... .... 58
A tow n w ith m any nam es ........................................ .......................... 58
The geological landscape and its origins ............................... ............... 59
The area's shoreline ................................................. .. .. .. .. ........ .... 61
Y oughal's shoreline ........... ........ ... .......... .............................. .......... 62
The Yew in Youghal's Prehistory Paleoecological Evidence .......................... 63
C ore site location s.......... ...................................................... .. .... ..... .. 64
Pollen concentration........ .................................................. ..................... 66
P ollen cou nting ............................................................67
Radiocarbon dating ........................................ .. .. .......................67
P ollen data ................................ ......... .... ..... .... ............ .67
Interpretation and discussion of the pollen data retrieved from the cores .......69
C om m ent.................................... .............. ... .... .. ............... 74
The Yew in Youghal's History Archeological and Archival Evidence............ 74
Eochaill and its yew s to 830 A .D .......................................... ............... 74
The latter 9th century to the Norman invasion ...........................................77
The 12-15th centuries ................ ................. ... ....... ............... 78
16th century Youghal ........................................... ..... .. .... .. ........ .....8 1
A landscape transform ed: The 17th century .................................................83
Denudation to reforestation: Descriptions of Youghal in the 1700s and
1 8 0 0 s .............................................................8 5
Sum m ary of the L ocal A nalysis................................................... ... ................. 88

4 THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE IN THE 20TH AND
21ST CENTURIES ....... ........ ............... .......... ........ ...... .. ......98

The Yew and the Contemporary Craftsman ...................................... ............... 98
The Y ew 's Infam ous R ole ............................................... .... ......... ............... 99
The Yew in 20th and 21st Century Literature .................................... ............... 100
Taxol and Cancer ................. ................. ............... ............ ......... 100
R ecen t N ew s .................. ........................................................ 10 1
The Y ew 's N natural Pesticide ..................................................................... 101
The Yew and W astewater Treatment...................................... ......................... 102
Y ew W ood and D endrochronology ........................................................ ............... 102


v









Biodiversity in a Y ew Forest ....................................................................... 104
G genetic V aviation Studies .................................... .................................................. 104
Y ew C conservation ........ ........................................................................ ....... ....... .. 105
M miscellaneous Y ew H appenings ........................................................ ............... 106
Su m m ary ................................................................................... 10 6

5 THE YEW TREE ON THE CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE.............................108

In tro d u ctio n ............. ..... ..... ................ .................... ................ 10 8
M materials and M ethods ......... ............. ......................... 109
Estimating the Age of Yew Trees ............................................. 110
Vegetative Regeneration and Tree-Forming................................ ..................... 111
T he Y ew T rees of Y oughal ......... .. ............... ................. ....................................... 112
The Yews of M yrtle Grove ........................................... .................. 112
The Yews of St. M ary's Church of Ireland.............. ................... ................... 114
The Y ew at M olana A bbey .............. ......................................................... 115
Y ew s at O their Ecclesiastical Sites.................................. ..................... ............... 116
The Carmelite M onastery of Castlemartyr ................................ ................... 116
L ism ore C em etery ................................................... .... ................ .......... 118
St. Michael and St. David's Church of Dungarvan............................ 119
A glish Cem etery .............. ...... ................................... .................. ...... ........ 119
Ballincollig M military Cemetery ..... ........................... ....... ................ 120
The Ancient Bamane Church and Graveyard ........................... ............. 120
The Churchtown Ruin and Graveyard ....................................... .............. 121
The K ilcockan R uin and G raveyard.................................................. ....... ....... 121
The Kilwatermoy Church Ruin and Graveyard ................................................ 122
The Leap Church Ruin and Graveyard ...................................... .............. 122
The Cemetery at Mackey's Cross ................................................. 123
S creh an ero G rav ey ard ............................ .......................................................... 12 3
The Catholic Churches of Timoleague and Aghada Upper ................................. 123
Discussion of Yew s Found on Ecclesiastical Sites ............................. ..................... 124
Similarities Among Solitary Churchyard Yews....................................... 124
Religious Affiliation ......... ........................ .... .................. ......... ... 125
Fosses, Stone Walls, and Cattle Poisoning ................................ .............. 126
Yew Rows, Monk's Walks, and Other Noteworthy Yews ............ ............. 127
Some Final Thoughts on Yews at Ecclesiastical Sites...................................... 128
Y ew W oods .................................................................................. .. .............. ............... 129
The Yew W oods on Foaty Island................................................... 129
The Yews of Glengarra Wood .............................. 132
The Yew W ood at Lismore Castle.............................................. ........................ 135
Discussion of the Yew Woods ........ ................ ..... ............... 135
Similarities in Terms of Size ......... .... .... ......... .............. 135
Tree-Forming in the W oods ............. ............ ..... .............. 137
Chapter Summary ................................... .. .. ......... .. ............140














6 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION .................................... ..............159

The Q questions A nsw ered .............. ..... ... ........................... .............................. 159
A Discussion of the Yew's Position on the Landscape from the Neolithic Period to
th e 2 1st C entu ry .................................................. ................................. 162
Predictions for the Future of Yew in Ireland ................. ............. ............166
A addition al Stu dies.......... .................................................................... ......... ........ 16 8
The Y ew in the G lobal Picture.............................................. ........................... 169
Concluding Statem ents .......................................... .. .. .... .. ....... ....... 171

APPENDIX

A RADIOCARBON DATING RESULTS ...........................................................178

B RAW POLLEN DATA AND TRANSFORMED VALUES FOR POLLEN
ZONATION ..................................... ................................. ......... 180

C LOCATIONAL, SEX, AND CIRCUMFERENCE DATA FOR SOME OF THE
TR E E S R E SE A R C H E D ...................................................................... .................. 185

D NUMBER OF COMMON AND/OR IRISH YEWS IN 84 CHURCHYARDS ......... 188

E YEW TREE DATA FROM FOTA AND GLENGARRA WOOD...........................190

LIST O F R EFEREN CE S ........... .............................. ............................. ............... 200

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H ........................................ ............................................213
















LIST OF TABLES


Table p

2-1. Derivations of yew towns obtained from Flanagan (1194), Joyce (1990), Lewis
(1837), Room (1986), Shirley (1863), and Windele (1910). ................................33

3-1. The evolution of the spelling of Youghal from the 16th to the 19th centuries......92
















LIST OF FIGURES

Figure p

1-1. Fluted trunk of yew tree...................................................................... 8

1-2. M ale flower of Taxus baccata in February.. ..................................... ............... 9

1-3. Arils in N ovember. Photo by author......................................................... ... ........... 9

1-4. Location of Youghal within Co,Cork, Ireland.......................................................9

1-5. O organization of dissertation....................................................................... 10

2-1. Locations of towns named after the yew tree in Ireland.........................................32

2-2. Seal of the Lordship of N ew ry.. ................................................................... 35

3-1. Pollen obtained directly from male flower. ...................................... ............... 89

3-2. Pollen after pollen concentration methods.. ....................................... ...............89

3-3. Locations of palynological investigations. ...................................... ..................... 90

3-4. Section of Mitchell's (1990) pollen diagram ............. ...................... ...........90

3-5. Portal tomb at Carrowmore, Co. Sligo. ........................................... ............... 91

3-6. Yew hedge at Lismore Castle Gardens, Co. Waterford.. ........................................91

3-7. The creation of limestone valleys found in southern Ireland .................................93

3-8. The Youghal strand. ........................ ......... .. .. ..... .. .............94

3-9 P eat on the strand ........... ...... ............................................ .............. ......... ........ 94

3-10. Map of relevant locations discussed in the chapter. ............... ...............95

3-11. M arsh core (M C) pollen data......................................................... ............... 96

3-12. Strand core (SC) pollen data.......................................................... ............... 97

4-1. Mushrooms growing on yew trees.............................. ....... .................. 107



ix









5-1 General area searched for churchyard yews and yew woods .................................. 143

5-2 One yew or three? ..................................................... ........ .............. .. 144

5-3 Aged yews hollow in the center.. ........................................................... ... ............ 145

5-4 A tree-formed yew at Glengarra W ood.. ........................................ ............... 146

5-5 The scar of a formerly tree-formed yew at Fota .................. ............................147

5-6 A postcard print of a c.1850 woodcut .......... ............................................... 147

5-7 Yew "couple" at the end of the yew row at Myrtle Grove ............. ... .............. 148

5-8 Canopy of M yrtle Grove yew row ................................................. ....... ........ 148

5-9 Myrtle Grove yew row and undergrowth.............. ............................................149

5-10 Female yew at St. Mary's Church of Ireland .....................................................149

5-11 Foliage of Irish yew ..................................... .............. ....... ........ .. 150

5-12 Location of yews discussed in chapter 5. ..................................... ....................151

5-13 Yew locations outside of the general study area. ............................................ 152

5-14 Yew row at Lismore Famine Cemetery .................................... ...............152

5-15 Yew row in Dungarvan, Co. Kilkenny. ..............................................................153

5-16 B arnane ruin .. .............................................................................153

5-17 The fem ale yew at M ackey's Cross....................................................................... 154

5-18 Pair of yew rows with circular hedge in the middle..............................................154

5-19 Irish yew row at M idleton, Co. Cork ......................... .. ............................... 154

5-20 Excerpt from 1841 OS map of Glengarra Wood................................ ...............155

5-21 Monk's Walk of common yew at Lismore Castle Gardens...................................155

5-22 Girth distributions of yew trees at Fota Wood and Glengarra Wood ................ 156

5-23. The difference between historically tree-formed yews and yews that have been
relatively undisturbed ...................... ................ ...........................157















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

RELIGION, WAR, AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES:
AN HISTORICAL AND ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNT
OF THE YEW TREE (Taxus baccata L.) IN IRELAND

By

J.L. Delahunty

December 2002

Chair: Dr. Michael Binford
Major Department: Geography

This research identifies cultural and ecological factors that influenced yew tree

(Taxus baccataL.) populations in and around the parish of Youghal, County Cork,

Ireland since c.5000 BP. The Celts revered the tree as "noble" and considered it a symbol

of life and death. The Normans used it as raw material for the longbow. All species in the

genus contain taxol, which has cured ovarian cancer. It is the longest lived tree species in

Europe. Scotland's Fortingall yew is reputed to be 5,000 years old. Toponymic analysis

revealed over 160 Irish towns named after the yew. Palynological analyses in Ireland are

extensive, yet the yew's former distribution and abundance are largely unknown as the

pollen has only recently been recognized. These qualities make it a worthy subject for

cultural and paleoecological research. The tree, however, is now infrequent in Ireland.

Youghal (Eochaill in Gaelic, meaning "yew forest") has relatively few yews.

Paleoecological and historical methods are applied to identify the cultural and ecological









factors that caused population fluctuations, and an eventual rarity, of yews in Youghal.

The data reveal that yews were present in the Youghal area throughout the second half of

the Holocene and that their populations have disappeared relatively recently (within the

1st millennium AD). The project contributes to the knowledge of several Holocene

species declines and multidecadal scale climate reconstructions. The paleoecological

changes on the Youghal landscape are cross referenced with European Holocene climate

data and analyzed in terms of other arboreal pollen changes in Ireland. Paleoecological,

archeological, and archival data are utilized to create a chronological history of the

landscape changes that affected the yew tree over the past 5,000 years.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

The Yew Tree--A Cultural Icon

There stands a yew tree in Perthshire, Scotland as old as the days of Solomon.

Hartzell (1991) recounts the local legend of the birth of Pontius Pilate in a Roman camp

nearby, stating that the tree would then have been at least 1,000 years old. This tree, the

"Fortingall Yew," is reputed to be the oldest in Europe (Voliotis 1986). Scotland's brown

tourist signs taunt the sightseer from miles away to look at the relic's marvelous green

foliage. But the foliage can only be seen hanging over a strong, tall, encompassing stone

wall. A plaque stands outside which reads:

Before you stands Europe's- and possibly even the world's- oldest living thing.

Under the dark veil of needles are two relic trunks of a huge, ancient yew tree. Scholars

believe the roots of this great survivor coil back some 5,000 years. The markers show you

the size of the original evergreen giant in 1769 when it had a girth of over 56 feet (17m).

Sadly, it attracted souvenir hunters who removed large sections. Children then lit fires

inside the hollow trunk and funeral processions passed through its midst. Eventually, this

wall had to be built to stop the tree disappearing altogether.

Below this memorandum is a diagram entitled "My life" which reveals numerous

events that occurred during this tree's lifetime such as the construction of the Pyramids

and Stonehenge, the arrival of the Celts to Ireland, the birth of Jesus Christ... To the right

of this it states "Little wonder then that when early Christians came to Fortingall in the 7th

century they decided to build their new church next to the ancient yew."









If one needed to identify a species revered for millennia by many nations, it would

be Taxus baccata, the yew tree. J.E. Rogers (1935) goes as far as to say about the yew,

"Its history is interwoven with the growth of civilisation." Cultures within Ireland,

Scotland, England, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Yugoslavia,

Poland, Japan, China, and America all have folklore that include the yew's mystical

powers. The tree has been considered a symbol of life and death and been depicted as the

tree of life, "highways traveled between earth and heaven. .. a manifestation of God's

existence" (Klein 1987).

Nature and Civilization

The vital role of plants in early human development is universally acknowledged.

The concept of plants providing humans with food, shelter, clothing, hunting tools, and

medicine has been ingrained in our conscience from youth. The domestication of cereals

was the first step to sedentary life leading the way to communal culture. It is easy for us

to imagine the necessity of plants to our ancestors, to understand them as essential

ingredients in the commencement of our familiar civilization. The role of plants in our

contemporary existence is, however, often overlooked. Our progression as a western

civilization and the development of urban centers has resulted in remote perceptions.

Having not grown the fruit or the timber ourselves, or lived in the same place long

enough to see the oak tree grow from an acorn, we no longer respect the processes

involved in the creation of the product.

This societal lack of appreciation extends not only to plants, but the physical

environment as a whole. Environmentalists are ever trying to persuade the developer to

consider the natural environment lest society pay the consequences of the deforestation,

increased atmospheric pollutants, loss of biodiversity, alteration of hydrology, etc.









Current environmental concerns necessitate the reconsideration of the primitively

respected physical environment.

Our knowledge about the role of nature in prehistory is a result of the

archeologist's and paleoecologist's exploration and communication of prehistory. What is

necessary today, in order for societies to consider and respect their connections with the

natural environment, is the exploration and communication of the physical changes

occurring on the natural landscape coupled with the changes and evolution of values and

belief systems through history.

American cultural geographers, influenced by Carl Sauer's work (The Agency of

Man on Earth 1956, The Morphology ofLandscape 1968, etc.), reliably consider the

integral part of the physical environment in the development of culture. The core belief of

the discipline is that cultural landscapes (assemblages of tangible elements that humans

have created or altered on the Earth) are a direct result of a two-way relationship between

nature and society. The fundamental philosophy is that the examination of a landscape's

components (considered in context) will reveal information about the ideological,

sociological, and technological subsystems of the inhabitants.

The Yew Trees (Genus Taxus)

This research examines a particular landscape element, a species of tree, in a

particular location, but let us first take a look at the species as a member of its genus

within a global context.

Taxus, the yew trees, a group of shade tolerant evergreens is placed in the phylum

Coniferophyta, class Taxopsida (Holt 2002). The order is uncertain as Meyen (1987)

places it within the Pinales while Florin (1948), Hartzell (1991), and Holt (2002) place it

within the Taxales. Taxus belongs to the family Taxaceae along with Austrotaxus and









Torreya. The number of species within the genus has not been agreed upon, the 7 or 8

named species are so closely related that they are most likely variations of one collective

species (Voliotis 1986; Bugala 1975; Keen 1956). In North America there are T

floridana of Florida, T. brevifolia of the northwest, and T. canadensis of southeast

Canada and the northeast United States. In Middle America there is T globosa. In Asia

there are T cuspidata of east China and Japan, and T. sumatrana of India and the

Philippines. T baccata is found in Europe, North Africa, Caucasus, and Turkey (Aas and

Riedmiller 1994).

The entire genus of this infrequent tree is currently attracting attention in the

medical industry. Taxus contains taxol, a substance that has proved to cure certain types

of cancer. Researchers are desperately trying to synthesize the substance as over-

harvesting has become a problem and it is not known how long the current populations

will last. This contemporary interest in the tree is dramatically different than that of

history. It was revered by many cultures and played numerous roles in the history of

western and eastern civilization. The tree prehistorically provided the raw material for

tools and religious artifacts. Historically it has provided the raw material for weapons and

housewares, been associated with religious ceremony, and been used extensively in

topiary.

The Common Yew (Taxus baccata L.)

Taxus baccata was named by Linnaeus in the fifteenth century. The colloquial

names include English yew, European yew, and common yew. Its dark green foliage is

comprised of simple needles that are flat and linear with a raised midrib and short

petioles. The needles are 6-25 mm long and 2-2.5 mm wide, living from 4 to 8 years

(Szaniawski 1975). They are arranged spirally but appear two-ranked, forming flat









sprays. The bark is reddish brown and varies from smooth to flaky. The trunks are often

fluted (Figure 1-1) and the lower branches drop down to touch the ground, like arms that

support the tree, if they are left unmanaged by humans. They are shorter than most forest

trees with an average height of 15-28 m (British-trees.com). The trees are dioecious,

meaning individual trees are either male or female. The male flowers produce 6 to 14

stamens, each of which has 5 to 8 pollen sacs (Figure 1-2). The pollen is wind

disseminated in February and March. In the fall and winter, the females develop a fleshy

red aril that looks like a berry with one seed tucked inside an open end (Figure 1-3). The

size of the seed is on average 6 x 4 x 3 mm (Bartkowiak 1975). The aril is edible but the

seed is poisonous.

The trees grow in "an environment similar to that of deciduous broad-leaved trees"

(Violotis 1986). The yew is known in England for thriving on calcareous soils. Bugala

(1975) says about Europe that the yew finds the best conditions for growth on fertile

humus loamy and clay soils with favorable water and air relations. Voliotis (1986) states

that the yew will also thrive "even on sheer rock exposed to sunlight."

The species survives throughout and beyond Europe, inclusive of the British Isles

and the southern parts of Norway and Sweden. The distribution of T. baccata is

indicative of a climate lacking extremes in cold and heat and hence favors a maritime

climate. The northerly extent of the Scandinavian distribution is 61 degrees north latitude

(Bugala 1975). Its distribution is limited by winter cold and higher elevations (Voliotis

1986; Mitchell and Ryan 1998). The highest elevation on which it is found is 2300 m in

Asia Minor (Bugala 1975). It is also found in the very northern parts of North Africa. The

eastern range limits coincide with the boundary of the continental climate. Both Hulme









(1996) and Voliotis (1986) make the generalization that yew is sensitive to both frost and

drought.

The common yew reaches sexual maturity at about 70 years of age (Hulme 1996;

Milner 1992). It is believed to be the longest-lived tree species in Europe with an average

life span of 500 years (Hulme 1996; Milner 1992). The "Darley Dale Yew" in

Derbyshire, England is thought to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, the "Tisbury

Yew" in Wiltshire, England over 2,000 years old (Hartzell 1991). The yew grows very

slowly. The girth increases only 1.1 cm per year for the first 500 years (Milner 1992).

Allen Meredith has documented evidence of tremendous variation in this estimate

(Chetan and Brueton 1994). The timber, because of its slow growth rate, is very compact.

Czartoryski (1975) sums up the timber quality: "Since long, long ago the yew has been

looked for by man as its wood is incomparable in its durability...the yew wood is one of

the most beautiful in the world."

Substance and Organization of Dissertation

The ancient annals, myths, and laws of Great Britain and Ireland reveal a historical

reverence for this species that is relatively unseen today. Great Britain and Ireland are

excellent study areas for historical analyses of cultural landscape changes (involving

cultural perceptions and utilizations of elements) because they retain a goldmine of

ancient literature. This region additionally provides the researcher with physical evidence

of vegetative landscape change as the area has undergone a great deal of paleobotanical

examination.

The purpose of this dissertation is to report the patterns and processes involved in

the changing perceptions and abundance of the yew as a landscape element. The account

is investigated in a regional (Northwestern Europe and more specifically Ireland) and









local (Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland) context. Regional analysis provides the reader with an

overall perception of changes in the yew's physical abundance and cultural exploitation

through time. Ireland was chosen as the main study area because of the Celtic reverence

for yew and the region's legendary attempts to retain its cultural integrity. Local analysis

provides the reader with an appreciation for the complexity of events occurring within

one community and its inevitable links to the region. The parish of Youghal, located at

the mouth of the River Blackwater, on the southeastern edge of Co. Cork, southern

Ireland (Figure 1-4), was chosen because of its etymological associations ('Youghal' is

the anglicized version of 'Eochaille,' Celtic foryew wood), the presence of ancient fossil

yews, and the presence of living yews.

The account begins in prehistory and ends in the present and uses the research

methods of paleoecology, cultural geography, history, and ethnobotany. The study asks

five questions, ultimately providing an understanding of the common yew's progression

as a landscape element:

* What was the prehistoric and historic cultural significance of the yew tree?

* Was the yew a common element in the prehistoric and historic landscape?

* What is the cultural significance of the yew tree in recent times?

* How common is it on the contemporary landscape?

* What are the reasons for its relative scarcity today and what does this tell us about
the evolution of the region's culture?

The first four questions are addressed in chapters 2-5. Each of these chapters

contains the relevant methods and research results. These chapters stand as individual

diachronic subsections as they explore the human and/or physical geography of a certain

period of time (Figure 1-5). In general, a progressive prehistory-to-present chronology is









provided by the assemblage of the two adjacent time periods (prehistory to the 19th

century & the 20th to 21st centuries), each period having a two-part discussion. The first

identifies the cultural significance of the yew during the time period, the second reports

information regarding its physical presence. A discussion (chapter 6) based on the last

question follows the chronology.

The following work reports the human interactions and associations with this

particular landscape element, the yew tree, as well as physical evidence of its presence

through time. I focus on aspects of both human and physical geography, exploring the

patterns and processes of the yew's history as a landscape element. This text is an

exploration of religion, war, and changing landscapes: An historical and ecological

account of the yew tree (Taxus baccata L.).

























Figure 1-1. Fluted trunk of yew tree. Photo by author.






















Figure 1-2. Male flower of Taxus baccata in February. Photo by author.


Figure 1-3. Arils in November. Photo by author.


Figure 1-4. Location of Youghal within Co,Cork, Ireland.













2002 A.D.

T Chapter Chapter
4 5 5 --


1900 A.D.


Chapter Chapter Chapr
2 3

3,000 B.C.
Cultural Physical
Significance Presence
Figure 1.5. Organization of dissertation. Chapter 2 reports the cultural significance of
yew from prehistory to 1900 A.D. Chapter 4 reports its cultural significance for the last
few centuries. Chapter 3 reports the physical presence of yew from prehistory to 1900
A.D. Chapter 5 reports the contemporary physical presence of yew.














CHAPTER 2
THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE YEW TREE
PREHISTORY TO THE 19TH CENTURY

Introduction

Wilkinson (1973) stated that the oldest known tool made of wood is a 50,000 year-

old yew spear found in Essex, England. Later analysis by Oakley et al. (1977) suggests

that it is actually a "thrusting spear" belonging to the Hoxnian interglacial (occurring c.

200,000 years ago). In ancient times yew extract was placed on arrow tips as a poison

(Hartzell 1991; Daniewski et al. 1998). The Celtic culture revered the tree's physical

characteristics and respected it as a spiritual icon. Many European towns are named for a

connection with this tree. The yew's associations with ancient civilizations and Christian

era mythology, folklore, religious practice, ancient law texts, poetic literature, art, and

heraldry are explored below. Several of these categories form their own timeline where

others simply mention significant cultural associations. The chapter starts with a brief

toponymic (placename) analysis of Europe and a comprehensive toponymic analysis of

Ireland. In total, this chapter explores the various utilitarian, mythological, and religious

associations of the tree with the European, and more specifically Irish, culture from

prehistory to the end of the 19th century.

The Yew in Place Names (Toponyms)

As an element of culture, place names "serve as multifunctional signposts in a

landscape" (O'Flanagan 1979). Countless places in the world are named after plants

important to a particular culture. The study of place names, or toponymy, can be a useful









ethnobotanical endeavor. Place names associated with particular plants may indicate their

presence on the historical, and even ancient, landscape. One of the first endeavors of this

research was to explore place names associated with the yew tree. This exploration aided

in the selection of the study area.

Many towns throughout Europe are named after a story relating to the yew

(Halifax, England) or named because of the presence of the yew (Eburodunum,

Switzerland)(Hartzell 1991). A few examples in England are Eridge (yew ridge), Iden

(yew tree pasture), Iwade (yew ford), and Uley (yew wood)(Chetan and Brueton 1994).

Hartzell (1991) claims that derivations of "yew" can be found as place names all over

Europe where the trees have been extinct for centuries. Erikkson (1913) used toponymy

to identify the yew's former distribution in Sweden, as did Svenning and Magard (1998)

for Denmark, and Turowska (1928) for Poland. There are over 160 'yew towns' in

Ireland. The sheer number suggests that yew was once prevalent on the island. The most

common associated names are Newrath (yew land), Ballinure (town ofyew), and Oghill

(yew wood). See table 2-1 for toponymic derivations and references.

The three main etymological layers found among the place names of Ireland are

Gaelic, Old English, and New English and they "serve to sustain the flow of medieval

into modern" (O'Connor 2001). The constant repetition of place names in Ireland marks

some homogeneity of the Gaelic culture. Elements of names such as rath (fort), cill

(church), and baile (home-place) are unequivocally prevalent. The unending attempt of

the Irish to maintain their ancestral culture aided in the persistence of their country's

place names. There are inevitable hybrids of Gaelic and Norman but certain roots, or

stories, remain to provide information about the original place name. The following









section first outlines the criticisms of toponymic analysis and then describes methods

involved in finding the yew-towns of Ireland.

The criticisms of toponymic analysis are; "natural circumstances have been altered

since the names were given" (Lind 1962), and people bring names with them in their

journeys across the Earth (there are at least 34 towns in the United States named Chester,

after Chester, England). Ireland is well known for its ancient place names and many

historical name changes (by the English) have been reverted.

Years ago, whilst meandering through a small town in western Ireland, I happened

upon a little book Irish Local Names Explained (Joyce 1990). Via this source, more than

20 towns were identified as having their names derived from the word yew. Locating

these towns was difficult as only a few of them were large or notable enough to be

included on a small-scale map. After finally locating only 5 or 6 of the towns through

various sources, it was evident that their distribution was not centered in any particular

area. A larger scale reference was needed. The map library at the University of Florida

yielded the General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, Parishes and

Baronies of reland: Based on the Census ofIreland for the year 1851. This reference

turned the 20 yew-towns into over 100 yew-towns. The Census was used to formulate a

database of all yew-town locations. For example, Joyce states that Ballinure or Ballynure

essentially means town-of-the-yew and was anglicized from Baile-an-iubhair. The census

revealed 8 Ballinures and 5 Ballynures. It was taken for granted in the preliminary book

search that there was only one town per name! The location of such an old source was a

blessing, if the source would have been more recent it might have been overlooked that

there were yew-towns that no longer existed, many being absorbed into bigger townlands









or re-named during the 19th-20th centuries. Suddenly there were 100+ towns to locate,

most of which were not on the current Irish Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. The only hint

for their geographic location, aside from what county they were in, was a reference in the

Census to the corresponding historical "OS Map Sheet." These maps turned out to be the

6 inch to 1 mile, second edition OS maps from the 1830s and 40s. A full set of these

maps was available at the Trinity University Map Library in Dublin. These original maps

were used to locate the town and the current OS maps were referenced to estimate

coordinates. All coordinates were then placed into a database and the distribution of yew-

towns was plotted using Arcview GIS 3.2 software.

The database expanded as new sources that revealed historic yew-towns were

found. Using the Census alone to find somewhat direct forms of ancient yew etymology

had a major shortcoming. Even by 1851 many town names had been altered so much that

their original meanings had been completely obscured. This dilemma was identified after

finding a reference to "Dun Eochaille" in the Annals oflnisfallen (AI). Being that

Eochaill is the direct Irish form of Youghal, which means yew-wood, "Dun Eochaille"

must also be associated with a yew wood. The ancient text scholar, Dr. Donnchadh

O'Corrain was consulted as to where this town was (University College Cork, Co. Cork,

personal communication, October 3rd, 2001). The reply was that it is now called

"Donohill" and is in Co. Tipperary. Dun Eochaille was not in the census, Donohill,

however, was. This town-name had been overlooked. It was later noticed that Joyce had

actually mentioned the town of Donohill, illustrating his knowledge of toponymy and the

ancient texts. I had simply become carried away with the obvious translations. I conclude

that there are many yew towns excluded from the list due to the time frame of the Census.









Another example presented itself: A town called "Imlech Ibuir" is mentioned in the

Annals oflnisfallen (AI) and in the Annals of the Four Masters (AFM) as "Imleach-

lubhair." lubhair/Ibur is discussed by Joyce as one of the two Gaelic words referring to

the yew (the other being eo). Dr. O'Carrain stated that "Imleach-Iubhair" was actually the

town of Emly in Co. Tipperary. It has contemporarily reverted to a version of its ancient

Irish form Imleach. The difficulty in obtaining an accurate list of towns named after the

yew can thus be appreciated. The ever-expanding list of towns was compiled from

numerous sources and chance findings during road trips. Kevin Murray, an old-Irish

linguist at University College Cork, is presently examining and verifying the etymology

of the compiled yew-towns (listed in table 2-1).

The towns along with their geographic coordinates are listed in Appendix A. There

are no obvious patterns in the distribution of towns (Figure 2-1) but a project is underway

to compare soil types with this distribution. The obvious 'holes' in the distribution are

areas where there is relatively high elevation. The map of distribution does not include

the locations of 5 towns recently discovered. It is assumed that only a small percentage of

these towns have yews today, as 8 of the 10 towns located in Co. Cork have none. The

final list could be an underestimation or an overestimation. I prefer to think of it as an

approximate number of towns named after the yew in Ireland. I do not ponder the past

distribution of the species via this method but look at it as a cultural significance

indicator for the species.

Several counties in Ireland have up to 10 locations named after the tree but only

Co. Cork had 10 distinct town names. For example, Oghil Beg and Oghil More in Co.

Galway are adjacent to each other and could be considered one place named after the yew









but are listed individually in the database. None of Cork's yew-places border each other

and it is worth noting that Co. Cork presents an interesting placename make-up, nearly

30% of the town names are biotic, the vast majority "are of native origin, many of which

subsequently have become anglicized" (O'Flanagan, 1979). Thus Co. Cork was

considered as superior for a study of yew on the historic landscape. The town of Youghal

was then chosen as it is historically connected through its name (it has already been

mentioned that Youghal translates to yew wood), and local lore, to an ancient yew wood

that supposedly existed there. There are in situ yew macrofossils in the location

confirming its former presence.

Celtic Reverence of Yew Trees

Several finds of ancient yew artifacts such as Wilkinson's (1973) oldest known

wooden tool made of yew found in England, and a Neolithic yew bow fragment found in

Ireland (Glover 1979) tell us that the yew could have been present in Europe. This

chapter, however, does not discuss its presence, but rather its cultural significance. The

yew was obviously used as material for tools in ancient society. Cultural utilization of a

landscape element can be verified by archaeological finds of tools, but cultural reverence

is verified through the acquisition of ancient religious artifacts and through mythology

and literature. Both utilitarian and religious ideals of the Celtic culture have been

preserved through such effects.

The earliest waves of Celtic invaders may have reached Ireland from central

Europe as early as c. 600 BC with subsequent groups arriving up to the time of Christ.

The sensitivity of the Celts (referring to the linguistic group which originated around the

Danube) to their natural environment is evident from the measure of religious imagery

associated with nature. The rural basis of their society meant that the Celts were intensely









aware of their natural habitat. Concerning symbolism of the natural world, Mariboe

(1994) conveys Celtic perceptions of their environment:

The numinosity of all natural phenomena of the sky, sun, water, mountains, and
trees demonstrates the close alliance existing between humankind and its
surroundings. The suddenness of storms, the occurrence of drought, the
capriciousness of water, the healing properties of springs and the daily
reappearance of the sun, were all explicable only if these phenomena were
controlled by the gods. (http://celt.net/celtic/celtopedia)

There is evidence of the Celts having ancient uses, as well as reverence, for the yew

tree specifically. A wheel with yew dowels dated c. 450 BC was found in Co.

Roscommon (Lucas 1972). A yew boat was found in Co. Westmeath. Its construction

dated to the 1st century A.D. (Brindley and Lanting 1991). An Iron Age carved idol made

of yew was found in Co. Cavan (O'Sullivan 1990). The will of Cathair Mor, written

around the 2nd century A.D., included 50 yew barrels to be left to his son, Daire Barach.

To his other son, Mogcorf, he left 100 yew barrels (MacManus 1944). The Celtic legend

of Eochardh Airemh relates the yew as the most powerful and sacred of Ireland. These

finds relate the importance of yew in early Celtic society.

In the 6th century A.D. St. Brendan was using the Ogham alphabet. This system is

thought to have originated no earlier than the 5th century (MacAnTsaoir 1999). Ogham is

based on the Roman alphabet and the date of the earliest Ogham stone in Ireland (4th

century) coincides with the arrival of Christianity though it is still considered the Gaelic

alphabet. This alphabet consists of 13 consonants and 5 vowels. Each vowel (A, E, I, O

and U) represented a plant (fir, poplar, yew, gorse and heather respectively). The gorse

and poplar represented spring and autumn equinox respectively, heather the summer

solstice, and the fir or palm and the yew shared the winter solstice, signifying birth and

death.









Celtic spirituality is thought to have commingled with Christianity until the

Norman invasions of the 12th century. This commingling is evident in the Book of Kells

(produced early in the 8th century), which "combined the stately letters of the Greek and

Roman alphabets with the talismanic, spellbinding simplicity of Ogham" (Cahill 1995).

It is another 8th century text Bretha Cii,,, itil/ he/rli, or 'judgements of the

neighborhood' that contains the most information on trees. O'Sullivan (1993) dates this

text to the 7th century. Twenty-eight trees are discussed and divided into four classes of

seven based on their economic worth. According to Kelly (1999) the airigfedo class is

the 'lords of the wood' and refers to oak, hazel, holly, yew, ash, pine, and wild apple.

Any offense against such a 'lord' of the wood resulted in a fine of two milk cows and a

three-year-old heifer. That was just the base fine. The rest of the fine was determined by

the nature of the offense. If a branch was cut, the punishment was to pay the base fine

plus a yearling heifer. If a branch was cut below a fork (this may mean a bigger branch),

the punishment was to pay the base fine plus a two-year-old heifer. If the tree was cut at

the base, another milk cow was added to the fine. The second category of trees was the

aithigfedo or 'commoners of the wood' which are alder, willow, hawthorn, rowan, birch,

elm, and wild cherry. The penalty for damaging these trees was one milk cow. If the tree

was killed, two milk cows. The third class was thefodlafedo; blackthorn, elder, spindle,

whitebeam, strawberry tree, aspen, and juniper. The fourth class was the losafedo;

bracken fern, bog-myrtle, gorse, bramble, heather, broom, and the wild rose. Scottish

laws, the Leges Forestarum of the 12-13th centuries, also included such fines for

damaging the trees of others. The Welsh laws of the 13-14th centuries, Llyfr Blegwyrd,









placed a specific monetary fine on yew trees. A woodland yew was worth 15 pence and a

churchyard yew was worth one pound, a heavy fine for the time.

Note oak, ash, and holly are not represented in the Ogham vowels. Of all the

'nobles' yew was the only one carried into the Gaelic alphabet. Kelly (1999) notes two

9th century dialogues that document the significance of yew to this culture. The story of

Mad Sweeney is a dialogue between himself and St. Moling where Sweeney defends the

beauty of a leaf of his yew tree. The 'teachings of Cormac' comment on the long lived

nature of the yew tree (which Cormac he is referring to is unknown, King Cormac lived

in the 3rd century and according to the Annals of the Four Masters died because he

believed in God over Druidism). The yew's cultural importance and presence during the

early Christian era can be verified in archaeological evidence. Two early medieval yew

horns were found, one in Co. Fermanagh and another in Co. Mayo (Waterman 1969), as

well as a late medieval yew casket in Co. Clare (Rynne 1971).

One would think this reverence would serve to protect the culturally important trees

but in fact, made the trees objects of retaliation during internecine strife. "The crowning

insult which could be inflicted on an enemy was the desecration of the sacred tree or trees

at the inauguration place of his kings" (Lucas 1963). The AFM records the burning of 14

religious places between the years 1162 and 1164. There are two specific yew references

within the entry for 1162: "The monastery of the monks at lubhar-Chinntrechta was

burned, with all its furniture and books, and also the yew tree which Patrick himself had

planted" and "Imleach-Iubhair, with its church, was burned" (ucc.ie/celt/publishd.html).

Both places are etymologically connected with the yew. The first burning refers to

Newry, Co. Down, the second refers to the monastery at Emly, Co. Tipperary (Murray









2001). It is to be noted that both places were very likely named for the sacred yew present

at the site (as was Iubhar Arnun burned in the year 1014). The AFM records another yew

burning in 1077 which occurred at Gleann Uiseann (Killeshin, Co. Carlow)(Lucas 1963).

Other historical yews are "one of the most venerable in Ireland" that of Inchcleraun in

Co. Westmeath and the male yew at Muckross Abbey in Co. Kerry which survives this

day.

A.T. Lucas (1963) wrote an extraordinary 38-page article about the Irish reverence

of trees entitled The Sacred Trees ofIreland whereby he systematically covers many

aspects of reverence for trees by the ancient Irish culture. He refers to this reverence as a

"cult" and is confident it was "a countrywide phenomenon" and that the culture believed

trees were "endowed with supernatural qualities." Lucas identified five main legendary

trees of Ireland. One of these, the Eo Rossa in Co. Carlow, was definitely a yew, several

others could have been yews but are not positively identified as such. Connellan wrote of

the Eo Rossa, the Yew of Ross, in 1860. He mentions a 7th century riddle that asks:

Which are the two trees whose green tops do not fade till they become withered? The

answer is the Eo Rossa and the Fidh-Sidheang (the yew and the holly). Connellan (1860)

implies that yew and holly were the only evergreens in Ireland at this time. This is

questionable as this riddle could have been in regards to one location. He also mentions

"Dallan's poem" which describes the quality of the shield of Hugh as durable and made

from a religious wood that bore berries.

Lucas (1963) mentioned several pieces of literature which mention the yew: One

from 1024 which "celebrates three famous yew trees" in Ireland and one from 1160

which "commemorates some remarkable" yew tree. Lucas mentions that in all probability









these trees were "intimately associated with the church." He makes this comment because

Ireland is known to have been densely forested at this point (Harris 1739, Wright 1863,

McCracken 1971), so the fact that these occurrences are entered into the Annals may

intimate their uniqueness.

Christian Reverence of Yew Trees

The adaptation of 'pagan' places of veneration (trees and wells) was greatly

practiced by Christianity (Neeson 1991). The association of yews with churchyards is

mentioned in almost every work on the species. Historically the trees were often older

than the church itself, so it is feasible that either a churchyard was picked because of the

presence of a yew, or that the yew was planted at an ancient religious site which later

became Christian.

At first, in brief, the church came to the tree, not the tree to the church. The more
this strategy was put into practice, the firmer the association between church and
tree grew, until in time, by force of it, the trees came to the churches and the
planting of them there was rationalized... (Lucas 1963, p34)

Neeson (1991) states that yews were frequently used to mark the bounds of sanctuary

land and associated with the word "fidnemed" (sacred grove). "In Ireland yew is

frequently used as palm on Palm Sunday, which to many Irish speakers is known as

'Dumhnach an luir' (Yew Sunday)..." (Vickery 1995). The Oxford Dictionary of the

Christian Church has an entry for "Yew Sunday" whereby it is defined as "A medieval

name for Palm Sunday so called because branches of yew were carried in the liturgical

procession" (Cross 1997). Chandler (1992) assembled "fancies" about the yew's

association with churchyards:

* Yew thrived on corpses which made it ready to make an excellent bow (yew wood
was used for longbow material)









* Yew trees were needed in each town for bow-making so a churchyard was a safe
place

* The presence of yew would cause owners to keep their cattle off of the consecrated
land (the yew can be poisonous to cattle)

* Yew wards off evil spirits, as the heartwood is red and the sapwood white, the
colors used to symbolize the body and blood of Christ

* And finally, the more popularly accepted theory: Druids had a temple on the land
and Christians built upon the site.

This list does not contain the idea that yew was carried in funeral processions and thus a

churchyard yew would be a good source. In Old England yew was gathered, "to deck the

house where a body lay awaiting burial" (Rogers 1935). "The Yew is considered to be the

most potent tree for protection against evil, a means of connecting to your ancestors, a

bringer of dreams and otherworld journeys and a symbol of the old magic"

(whitedragon.org.uk/articles/yew.htm).

Trees have always been used as symbols, their roots and trunks symbols of

strength, their fruits and flowers symbols of life. The tree of life is mentioned 8 times in

the Bible (Ge 2:9 and 3:24, Pr 3:18 and 11:30, Rev 2:7, 22:2, 22:14, and 22:19). Klein

(1987) mentions that the yew has "served" as a tree of life. Chetan and Brueton (1994)

provide a very convincing argument that the tree worshipped by Germanic tribes,

Yggdrasil, was a yew. "Central to the mythical world was the tree Yggdrasil, which

provided a framework or scaffold for the cosmos and a ladder between the sky, earth and

underworld" (Gibson and Simpson 1998). Recent scholars translate Yggdrasil to yew

pillar "appropriate for the evergreen support of the world" (Gibson and Simpson 1998).

The Yew and Craftsmanship in Northwestern Europe

The Sutton Hoo burial ship in Suffolk, England dates to the 7th century. It is a

funeral ship thought to be dragged a third of a mile from a nearby river, to be part of a









traditional pagan ritual mound for King Raedwald of the Wuffing Dynasty. A yew bucket

was found on the site thought to be "for Raedwald's own use" (Joachim 1986). The

history of such a bucket is revealed in Vidal's (1976) research at Haute Garonne, France.

A "tripod bucket made of yew staves" dating between 35 and 10 BC was found in a

funerary "shaft." Vidal states that 29 similar finds have been made in Britain, France,

Germany, and Luxembourg. "They were probably used for diluting wine and continued

to be made during the Roman period in Britain, becoming widespread once more during

4th-6th centuries AD" (Vidal 1976). Ancient yew artifacts are common. A yew wooden

mallet was found in Somerset, England and dated to the "mid-3rd millennium BC" (Coles

and Hibbert 1972). The yew thrusting spear found in Essex in 1911 stratigraphically

belongs to the Hoxnian Interglacial from 200,000 years ago (Oakley et al. 1977). The

yew has been used as a material for indoor and outdoor utensils for perhaps hundreds of

thousands of years.

The Antiques Road .\/Nh,' television program (2002) displayed a valuable antique

chest with drawers made of solid yew. Historically, the yew has made the most resilient

bows for Windsor Chairs (Finelot 2002). In the late 17th century Thomas Dineley wrote a

journal during his travels in Ireland. He wrote of Sir Lawrence Parson's house in Kings

County (now County Offaly):

...such plenty of Ewe-Timber, that of his House the Windows, Staircases, Window
Cases, Tables, Chaires, Benches, Stooles are formed therewith. Here is sayd to be
the fairest stair-case in Ireland (Shirley 1863 p.272).

The Yew in Literature

For at least nine centuries before Christ, celebrated and uncelebrated authors alike

mentioned the yew in their epic writings; Homer (Iliad) in the 9th century BC,

Theophrastus (Inquiry into Plants) in the 4th century BC, Nicander and Pausanius in the









2nd century BC, Caesar (Gallic Wars), Claudius, Dioscurides, Pliny, Plutarch, and Virgil

(Georgics and Aenid) in the 1st century BC (Dallimore 1908; Brimble 1946; Srodon

1975; Keen 1956; Hartzell 1991). In the first 14 or 15 centuries A.D. the tree retained its

importance in literature. Richard the Lionheart, Saxon King Harold, and William the

Conqueror all met their demise by an arrow shot from a yew wood bow (Hartzell 1991).

In epic poems and ballads throughout history, the yew was revered for its prized wood in

the form of bows. The word yeoman is a derivation of yew-man (man carrying yew bow),

a term often used during the height of archery, especially during the Hundred Years War

(1337-1453) when Henry V prepared tens of thousands of yeomen for battle. Geoffrey

Chaucer's Death of Robin Hood (14th century) closes with:

And set my bright sword at my head
Mine arrows at my feet
And lay my yew-bow by my side...

The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry (Frankovich 1997), The New Cambridge

Bibliography of English Literature (Watson 1969), and Hoyt's New Cyclopedia of

Practical Quotations (Roberts 1923) list 15 mentions of yew in literature. The following

list is composed from these three sources as well as numerous internet searches:

16th century

William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Ti /l/h Night. Act II. Sc4.
Macbeth. Act IV. Scl.
Romeo and Juliet.Act V. Sc3.

Edmund Spencer (1552-1599): Faerie Queene. Bk 1. Canto 1. St 8.

17th century

Robert Herrick (1591-1674): To the Yew and Cypress to Grace His Funeral

18th century

Robert Blair (1699-1746): The Grave









Thomas Gray (1716-1771): Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

19th century

George Henry Boker (1823-1890): The Leaden Eyelids of Wan Twilight Close

Thomas Campbell (1777-1844): Theodric: a Domestic Tale, and other Poems

John Keats (1795-1821): Ode on Melancholy

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936): A Tree Song

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892). Old Yew which Graspest the Stones

Francis Thompson (1859-1907): A Fallen Yew

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): The Importance of Being Earnest
The Decay of Lying
The Canterville Ghost
The Dole of the King's Daughter
Panthea

William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Yew-Trees

Wordsworth's composition Yew-Trees expressed his awe of the "magnificent" species:

There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore;
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Unfraville or Percy ere they marched
To Scotland's heaths; or those that crossed the sea
And drew their sounding bows at Azincour,
Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary Tree! A living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed.

Yew Longbows

"From the later Stone Age in central Europe, at sites in Switzerland and Germany,

more than 20 bows or fragments of bows have been found... All of the bows are of yew

wood" (Hardy 1976). "Of the woods for self-bows, yew beyond all question carries off









the palm" (Ford 1887). Gordon (1939) later agreed, "yew at its best is the monarch of

bow woods."

Hardy (1976) claims the earliest yew longbow in England is from Meare Heath in

Somerset, it dated to 2,690 BC, another found at Ashcott Heath dated to 2,665 BC, and

another at Edington Burtle dated to 1,320 BC (it is uncertain how these bows were

dated). The yew longbow obviously transcended time as Germanic longbows were used

against the Romans at the Rhine in 354 A.D. (Hardy 1976). Longbows were also used in

England at the Battle of Maldon in 991 and the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Bayeux

Tapestry (also known as Matilda's Tapestry), a 230+ foot long embroidered pictorial

description of the Battle of Hastings, shows the yeomen with their bows. The first major

land battle of the Hundred Years War at Crecy in 1346 proved the longbow to be the

ultimate fighting weapon.

The Genoese crossbowmen were outshot by the English longbows and the pattern
was set for the rest of the day: the French cavalry were committed piecemeal in
fruitless charges against strong English positions, losing perhaps 10,000 men in the
course of the fighting. After almost a millennium in which cavalry had dominated
the field of battle, the infantrymen, and particularly the longbowmen, now ruled
supreme. (Nicolle 2000)

In 1415 the English monarchy led 8,000 archers once more into France to the Battle of

Agincourt and again the yew longbow proved an invincible adversary. The King who

won this war, Henry V, called his archers his "yew hedge" (Hardy 1976). Gordon (1939)

states it was illegal to grow yew in France for 100 years as a result of the English

conquests.

Rumor has it that the gesture of giving someone the 'finger' (fingers held slightly

differently in English and American context) originally comes from archers flaunting to

enemies that they still had these fingers and thus could shoot their longbow. This rumor









could have some substance as Hardy (1976) states the Salic Laws or Lex Salica of King

Clovis of the Franks (5th century) included a fine for cutting off anyone's bow drawing

fingers. In 1997 National Public Radio actually had a program discussing the fact that at

Agincourt the French had threatened to cut off the fingers of the English longbowmen.

When the English won, they waved their fingers at the French in defiance. The act of

drawing the longbow was called 'plucking yew' hence, the two gestures, one physical

and one verbal, ended up together. This is actually published in a website by the Saint

Andrews Noble Order ofRoyal Scots-Irish entitled "History of Giving the Finger" (st-

andrewsscots.org/mainhall/mharticle6.html).

Roger Ascham's Toxophilus (1545) is by far the seminal work on archery. Likely

quoted in every article and book on historical archery, this work was presented to King

Henry VIII in 1545 and is the first known academic work written in English. It is written

in dialogue between a lover of the bow and a lover of learning. The 16th century saw the

tools of war transform from bows to firearms and archery became a sport. The following

centuries saw the formation of archer societies. In 1676 the Royal Company of Archers

of Scotland was founded. In 1814 the Irvine Toxophiles archery society was founded. In

1951 the British Longbow Society was founded. The three controlling bodies of the sport

today are the Grand National Archery Society, the English Field Archery Association,

and the National Field Archery Society (members of these societies proved extremely

helpful in answering questions about the yew in Ireland).

The extensive use of yew bows in the centuries of war must have been

accompanied by a major decline in yew populations. Violotis (1986) found evidence that

10,000 Yew longbows each year for 60 years were exported from Nuremberg beginning









in 1512. Violotis (1986) then goes on to mention that export reached 500,000 to 600,000

bows over the period of 60 years. Czartoryski (1975) says that Moewes (1926) "collected

the most detailed data about the export of yew from Germany" and that he estimated

"exports of yew by Nuremberg in 1531-1560 as amounting to 500-600,000 trees." Seeing

that the numbers are exactly the same, 500,000-600,000 bows would be more feasible.

Loudon (1844) verifies this time of decline: "In the days of archery the yew was the

principal wood used for the bow in Britain, and in the reign of Henry VIII of England

(1491-1547), the demand was so great that it had to be imported from the continent of

Europe into England..." Historical law also gives some idea as to the extensive demand

of yew staves. William 'Lion Heart' put forth an Act in the 12th century for all men "16 to

60" to have a longbow (Buchanan 1979). The Assize of Arms of 1181 was renewed by

Henry III in 1252 stating that the townsmen must have bows in case they are needed in

the army (Hardy 1976). Edward I (who Hardy calls "the father of the military longbow")

followed his father's lead in terms of acknowledging the importance of the skilled archer,

and in 1284 obtained control of Wales and the famous Welsh archers. The following two

15th century laws were documented by Burke in 1958: James I signed a law to Scottish

parliament that all men after the age of 12 should be archers. Edward the IV demanded

that every Englishman and Irishman must have a yew, wych, hazel, or ash bow of his

own.

The 13-15th centuries surely marked the decimation of many a yew population. It is

uncertain where all the wood came from. Ford (1887) says the best yew is from Spain or

Italy but that "occasionally" English staves can be sufficient for bow-making. But Hardy

(1976) says that English yew is good for bow-making, "the further north the better;









Scottish therefore is apt to be better... Scandinavian better than Scottish." In the Middle

Ages, import duties on cargos of wine into England were overlooked if bow staves were

included in the shipment (Gordon 1939). The cessation of import duties sounds to me as

an act of desperation. Perhaps at this point, the local supply was exhausted. A search of

the Patent Rolls for Edward III's reign revealed an appointment in 1345 of two men to

fell yew trees for bow making in Counties Kent, Berks, and Oxford. Hardy (1976) found

Edward IV had said the scarcity ofbowstaves is so bad that archery is almost lost. Milner

(1992) states that Richard III "decreed a general planting of yew and the importation of

foreign yew staves." Searches at the British Library, and chasing rumors of yew-wood

management in Scotland, revealed no substantial evidence of yew woods being grown

and/or managed for the longbow cause (this is discussed further in chapter 5).

The Yew in Heraldry

A glossary of heraldic terminology has an entry for 'yew' which reads; "The yew is

considered to be emblematic of death but the ancient Egyptians saw these evergreens as a

symbol of hope and eternal life" (Heraldic Artists 1980). A website on the subject also

records yew under "some of the more common heraldic symbols" as a symbol of "death

and eternal life thereafter" (oshel.com/symbols.htm). Micheal O Comain, a consulting

herald at the Genealogical Office in Dublin, could not identify any Coats containing yew

(Co. Dublin, personal communication, January 10th, 2002). Katey Lumston, a heraldic

painter at the same location, was commissioned to paint a Coat of Arms for the Western

Health Board that included a yew tree. Extensive searches revealed six occurrences of

yew used in heraldry; the one for the Health Board, the Crest of the Seamark family

(freepages.family.rootsweb.com/-heraldry/ page_coa.html#%20Home), the Coat of Arms

for the Broadwood, Brandwood, and Morse families (Parker 1894), and the Civic Seal of









the Lordship of Newry (located in Co. Down, Ireland), having a yew tree on either side of

an ecclesiastical figure. Fox-Davies (1894) declared the trees on the Seal might actually

be poplar trees. Though it is difficult to tell by the shape of the trees (Figure 2-2), it is

more likely that they are yews as the Gaelic translation of Newry is lubhar-Chinntrechta

which translates to 'yew at the head of the strand' (Room 1986). The town is also known

for the previously mentioned 12th century event where an ancient revered yew was

purposely destroyed by fire.

The Yew in Art

Various heraldic artists have depicted the yew. Its wood, as longbow, is also seen in

many depictions of famous battles. More recently, Vincent Van Gogh painted the Trunk

of an oldyew tree in 1888. Further research into the art world would likely result in the

identification of additional usage of the icon.

Summary

The oldest wooden implement discovered is made of yew. Archaeological evidence

proves that Irish inhabitants utilized the yew for literally hundreds of thousands of years.

Many places in Europe are named after an association with the tree. Toponymic analysis,

using a combination of 19th century census information, Irish place-name texts, and

various versions of OS maps, revealed over 160 towns in Ireland named after the tree.

The distribution of these towns shows no obvious patterns but reveals the tree as a

noteworthy cultural element. The Celts are likely the group responsible for the majority

of these town names. The culture revered the tree, incorporating it into their alphabet and

outwardly protecting it in their law texts. Sacred yews are discussed in the ancient annals

of Ireland and have been associated with religious ground for thousands of years. This

exceptional reverence resulted in especially revered yews being the object of retaliation









during internecine conflict. One particularly yew tree, the Eo Rossa, was one of the five

main legendary trees of Ireland. This reverence amalgamated with Christian views when

they were imposed upon the people of Ireland in the first half of the first millennium A.D.

The tree's association with churchyards is legendary, as it is considered a protector of

evil, a symbol of magic. It has been suggested that the original 'tree of life' concept was

derived from a yew. The yew was not only utilized for spiritual worship. Its wood has

been used, among other things, to make barrels, boats, buckets, mallets, furniture, bowls,

spears and bows. The yew was a common object in early literature. It was mentioned by

numerous authors including Homer, Pliny, and Virgil. It was later mentioned by famous

authors such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Kipling, and Tennyson. Its role as the best

material for longbows likely induced many of these mentions. Yew longbows are known

from the 3rd millennium BC. They were later used to win wars at Hastings, Crecy, and

Agincourt. The first known academic work in English was a book on archery. Yew

longbows continue to be prized by the members of contemporary archery societies. The

mid 1st millennium usage of yews for this purpose likely resulted in its near

extermination. The symbolism of yew continued in heraldry as a symbol of death and

eternal life. The yew is represented in 6 heraldic symbols. The yew has been depicted by

various artists because of its association with the longbow and its symbolism in heraldry

and religion. It was also depicted by Van Gogh in 1888.

Reverence and utilization of such a species does not prove abundance. In fact, in

many cases a species may be revered for its scarcity. The following chapter explores the

past abundance of yew on the Irish landscape through paleobotanical and archival

research.












Distribution of Yew Toponyms in Ireland


40 0 40 80 Miles
, I M


Figure 2-1. Locations of towns named after the yew tree in Ireland










Table 2-1. Derivations of yew towns obtained from Flanagan (1194), Joyce (1990),
Lewis (1837), Room (1986), Shirley (1863), and Windele (1910).
English Irish Translation


Aghadoe
Aghilly
Aghinure
Ahanure
Altinure (2)
Ardnanure
Aughall
Aughil
Aughils
Aughnanure
Ballinure (8)
Ballynure (5)
Carranure
Clashanure
Clonoe
Clonoghil (4)
Cloonoghill
Cornanure
Crockanure
Donohill
Drumanure (6)
Ellinure
Emly
Eochaill
Finure
Glanworth
Glenoe
Gortanure (4)
Gortinure (4)
Killenure
Killinure (13)
Killoe (2)
Killure (7)
Kinure
Knockanure (3)


Achadh-da-eo
Eochaill
?-iubhair
?-iubhair
Alt-an-iubhair
?-na-iubhair
Eochaill
Eochaill
Eochaill
Achadh-na-niubhar
Baile-an-iubhair
Baile-an-iubhair
?-iubhair
?-iubhair
Cluain Eo
Cluain-eochaill
Cluain-eochaill
?-iubhair
Cnoc-an-iubhair
(fortress?)-eochaill
(ridge?)-iubhair
?-an-iubhar
Imleach-iubhair
Eochaill
?-iubhair
Gleann-iubhair
Gleann Eo
Gort-an-iubhair
Gort-an-iubhair
Cill-an-iubhair
Cill-an-iubhair
Cill-eo
Cill-iubhair
Ceann-iubhair
Cnoc-an-iubhair


Field of two yew
Yew wood
? of yew
Ford of yew
Glen side of yew
Height of the yew
Yew wood
Yew wood
Yew wood
Field of yew
Town of yew
Town of yew
? of yew
? of yew
Meadow of yew
Meadow of yew wood
Meadow of yew wood
? of yew
Hill of yew
Fortress of yew wood
Ridge of yew
? of yew
? of yew
Yew wood
? of yew
Glen of yew
Glen of yew
Field of yew
Field of yew
Church of yew
Church of yew
Church of yew
Church of yew
Head of yew
Hill of yew









Table 2-1. Continued
English Irish Translation


Lisdillure
Loughanure
Mayo (6)
Moynoe
Moynure (3)
Newrath (9)
Newry (4)
Nure (7)
Oghil (9)
Oghill (11)
Oghillees
Oghillicartan
Oghilly
Oghly Island
Okyle
Rathnure (2)
Rush (2)
Sruhanure
Terenure
Tinure
Tullynure (3)
Ture (4)
Uragh (4)
Uregare
Virginia
Wood of O
Yewer
Youghal (2)


?-iubhair
Loch-an-iubhair
Magh-eo
Magh-neo
Magh-iubhair
An-Iurach
lubhar-Chinntrechta
lubhar
Eochaill
Eochaill
Eochaill-?
Eochaill-?
Eochaill-?
Eochaill
Eochaill
(fort)-iubhair
Ros-eo
?-iubhair
Tir-an-iubhair
Tigh na luir
Tulach-an-iubhair
lubhar
lubhrach
lubhar-ghearr
Achadh an luir
Eochaill
lubhar
Eochaill


? of yew
Lake of yew
Plain of yew
Plain of a yew
Plain of yew
Yew land
Yew at head of strand
Yew at head of strand
Yew wood
Yew wood
Yew wood ?
Yew wood ?
Yew wood ?
Yew wood island
Yew wood
Fort of yew
Peninsula of yew
? of yew
Land of the yew
? of yew
Hill of yew
Yew
Yew land
Short yew
Field of Yew
Yew wood
Yew tree
Yew wood







35





^--I-







Figure 2-2. Seal of the Lordship of Newry with yews on either side of ecclesiastical
figure. Reproduction by author.














CHAPTER 3
THE YEW ON THE PREHISTORIC AND HISTORIC LANDSCAPE

Introduction to the Yew in Palynological Analyses

In many cases cultural geographers no longer need to be restricted by the

information found in the current landscape and the amount of historical literature

available. Paleoecological methods can be used as tool to reconstruct historical

landscapes. Paleoecology studies the interactions of ancient and prehistoric organisms

with their environment. Palynology is the study of pollen, including morphology,

physiology, biochemistry, and spatial and temporal distribution. Pollen is produced and

released from flowers, transported by wind, insects, and water, and deposited on the

landscape. When the deposition occurs year after year on such substrates as a woodland

floor, a bog, a lake, or another similar sediment trap, a historical vegetation chronology is

produced in the ground. Assemblages of these microfossils (pollen) occur as the result of

an individual species pollen dispersal efficiency, productivity, and density in the local

and regional environment during any particular time period. Applications of palynology

are useful in "studying climatic history" and "following the course of man's influence

upon his environment" (Moore and Webb 1978). By using palynological methods

cultural geographers can lengthen the time period covered in their research. A

progressive approach can therefore begin in prehistory, adding clues from ancient annals

and historical literature as Christian times commence.

This research began when a contradiction in literature (both palynological and

cultural forest history) was identified regarding the abundance of yew in the Holocene









(the last 12,000 years). MacCracken (1971) states that in Ireland the yew "did not form

large stands but was fairly common as an occasional tree." Nelson and Walsh (1993)

state the yew was "never a dominant tree in the (Irish) landscape during the post glacial

period." Tittensor (1980) claims, in reference to the entire Holocene, that yew was

"widespread but uncommon." On the contrary, Neeson (1991) and Huntley and Webb

(1988) claim it to be formerly "abundant." Srodon (1975) states that during the Holocene

yews often formed large concentrations. Oliver Rackham (1980), comments in his often

cited book on ancient woodland in England, that during the Bronze Age, pine and yew

outnumbered oak. Books and poems descriptive of historic England and Ireland insinuate

that the tree formed dark and mysterious forests suggesting that there must have been

more than "an occasional tree."

Pollen analysis should be able to clear up the confusion; after all, there is no doubt

that the male yew produces tremendous amounts of pollen. In March 1999, I witnessed a

tree in Alderley Edge (Cheshire, England) that produced such copious pollen that it

appeared gold in color. Upon bumping into a branch I was consumed in a cloud and my

shirt turned from white to yellow. After this experience, it was easy to realize Dallimore's

(1908) comment: "Pollen is borne in such quantities as to discolour the ground beneath

the trees when it is ripe, whilst on a windy day it leaves the trees in clouds." A similar

statement was made by Briggs (1936): "In February and early March some of the yews

change from a deep blue-green to a warm tawny colour, as if they had been powdered

over with gold dust."

After reading about and experiencing the pollen production potential, it was

disturbing that the tree was not a part of early pollen analysis in England and Ireland. In









fact, prior to 1987, palynological analyses in Ireland did not include yew. The answer

was found in Godwin's (1934) paper on the "problems and potentialities" of pollen

analysis: "Pollen ofPopulus, Taxus, Juniperus and members of the Rosaceae is easily

destroyed, but fortunately that of all the forest dominants is relatively well preserved."

This should immediately bring a question to mind, if they are easily destroyed then how

do we know they weren't at one time a forest dominant? Again in 1940, Godwin made a

similar statement: "...Salix, Populus, Acer, Taxus and other genera...the pollen of these

genera is not preserved..." The above question was neatly answered in An Atlas ofPast

and Present Pollen Maps for Europe: 0-13, 000 years ago (Huntley and Birks, 1983):

"The scarcity of sites in which yew pollen is recorded probably reflects the problems of

identification of this pollen type rather than a true rarity of occurrence." Palynological

researchers now regard it as an "under-recorded" species. Edwards and Warren (1985)

report:

Yew, an underrecorded species because its pollen has only recently been
recognized, appears to have been frequent in the later postglacial... Its ecological
role is not yet understood, but it may be suspected that future pollen analysis will
prove it to have been an abundant tree right up to the modem times, as its high
frequency of place names suggests.

Michael O'Connell confirmed "yew pollen went unrecognised in a lot of the earlier

pollen counts" (University College Galway, Co. Galway, personal communication,

January 19th, 1999). Mitchell and Ryan (1998) stated "...its pollen is relatively fragile

and difficult to recognize in fossil form and was overlooked for a long time." This

difficulty of recognition is due to the tendency of the pollen grains to collapse during

pollen concentration methods. Figures 3-1 and 3-2 show pollen straight from a tree and

contorted yew pollen after pollen concentration methods.









Thus the question arose: Was the yew a common element on the prehistoric and

historic Irish landscape? To answer this question, a regional approach was initially taken

by compiling and researching Ireland's palynological and historical records. New

palynological research was then initiated in the parish of Youghal, Co. Cork (which has

etymological associations with the tree and fossilized yew within a submerged peat bed

on its coast). It was assumed that localized research would reveal a clearer view of the

complexities involved in the interpretation of the progress of the yew as a landscape

element. Therefore, this chapter is divided into two main sections. The first is a regional

(Ireland) look at palynological evidence that reveals the prehistoric presence of yew. The

section then leads into historical accounts of political and economical activity that would

influence yew populations. The second section is a local (Youghal) look at palynological

evidence that reveals the prehistoric presence of yew followed by historical accounts of

the physical environment and political and economical activity that influenced Youghal

specifically and thus the area's yew population.

Section 1: The Prehistoric and Historic Abundance of Yew in Ireland and the
Political and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual Decline

This account begins by reporting finds of yew (Taxus) microfossils in Pleistocene

(1.8 million 12,000 years ago) sediments and progresses to report finds in the relatively

recent geologic period, the Holocene (the last 12,000 years). Taxus pollen has been

identified in Europe's Cromerian Interglacial (750,000-350,000 years ago) and Hoxnian

Interglacial (250,000-200,000 years ago). Godwin (1956) and Huntley and Webb (1988)

report that the tree was part of the European forests since the Cromerian. R.G. West

(1962) wrote of a 19th century palynologist that found yew seeds at Hoxne (Suffolk,

England), the type site for the Hoxnian Interglacial (a 'type site' is the place where relics









characteristic of a particular cultural and/or paleoecological period have first been found

in situ, customarily adopted as the name of that period). Dowling et al (1998) recently

verified the abundance of Taxus during these ancient Interglacials in Cork Harbour,

Ireland. In fact, Dowling et al. (1998) found Taxus to be present in all 9 Gortian Warm

Stage (an Irish interglacial that extended from 425,000 to 300,000 years ago) sites they

reviewed. The fact that the yew was a significant component of the forest during the

Gortian in 7 of the 9 locations suggests that the climate was moist and mild during this

period. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) mention the presence of yew fruits in Ireland's latter

Aghnadarraghian Complex of 65,000 to 35,000 years ago. The yew's sensitivity to frost

and drought make it an excellent climate indicator, which promotes an understanding of

the type of climate prehistoric cultures experienced.

The paleoecology of the Holocene tends to be a bit easier to reconstruct.

Radiocarbon dating has enabled chronologies for significant events in many parts of

Ireland and given researchers major clues as to the arrival and activity of plants and

animals (including humans). Many believe that when the ice of the Devensian Glacier

retreated, about 12,000 years ago, a land bridge linking Ireland to Great Britain remained

for some time (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This could have greatly aided in the postglacial

migration of floral and faunal species from the Isles and the continent. Postglacial

colonization could also have been due to, or included; refuges, causal introductions, and

intentional human introductions.

Because this study encompasses over 5,000 years, it is appropriate to include a

general overview of the northwestern European climate, the particulars of which affected

human activity, the knowledge of which was obtained by palynological research. Godwin









(1940) was the first to analyze a threefold climate division of the postglacial: increasing

warmth, maximum warmth, and decreasing warmth. Godwin formulated a scheme of

pollen zonation for Britain, since modified, expanded and placed in regional contexts

(Rackham, 1980; O'Connell et al. 1988). Where Godwin (1940) does not include dates

with his zones, Rackham's (1980) analysis of Britain includes radiocarbon chronology as

"dates b.c." The following zonation sequence follows Godwin (1940) and Rackham

(1980). The associated dates provide a general guideline, but are of course, estimates.

* Zones I-III are collectively termed the Late-glacial and encompass 10,000 to 8,300
b.c. During this time there were land bridges between Great Britain and the
mainland as well as Great Britain and Ireland. Temporary cold snaps did not
impede the colonization of birch and aspen, and a small amount of pine.

* Zone IV, the Pre-Boreal, extended from 8,300 to 7,600 b.c. (this is where Godwin
began his analysis). This zone marks a period of rapid warming and increasing
forests. The main colonizers were birch, pine, and hazel.

* Zone V, the Early Boreal (7,600 to 7,000 b.c.), shows the northward movement of
pine and the increase of hazel southwards, both at the expense of birch. It is this
period that records the arrival of oak, elm, and lime (Tilia).

* Zone VI, the Mid to Late Boreal (7,000 to 5,500 b.c) marks the age of hazel. Pine
and oak became common in Ireland and Great Britain. Ireland saw a large increase
of elm and southern England saw the increase of lime. Birch became uncommon in
England and Ireland. Godwin separates this time into three subzones; a. the elm and
hazel increase, b. oak equaling elm and c. lime and alder increase and hazel begins
to decline. At the end of this period "a rise in sea level had cut off first Ireland and
then Great Britain" (Rackham 1980).

* Zone VII marks the beginning of man as influential in regards to vegetation
change, though both Rackham (1980) and Behre (1988) state that Mesolithic
clearing wasn't sufficient to make too much of an impression on the woodlands.
According to Godwin, there was a large replacement of pine and birch by alder, and
an oak and elm dominance. Rackham calls the period of 5,500 to 3,100 b.c. Zone
VIIa, the Atlantic or the "fully-developed wildwood". Mitchell and Ryan (1998)
refer to the period of around 4,550 b.c. as the postglacial climatic optimum, where
average temperatures in July were 1-2 degrees C warmer than today. According to
Rackham this period experienced a stable climate where climax communities could
develop. Pine and birch had disappeared except for the highest areas of Scotland
and Ireland, hazel and elm dominated most of Ireland with oak and hazel woods
dominating the west. Zone VIIb (3,100 to 800 b.c), or the Neolithic and Bronze









age, is characterized by a sudden decline in elm throughout northwestern Europe.
This "Sub-Boreal" period marks the invasion of Neolithic settlers.

* Zone VIII (800 b.c. to 40 a.d.), the Sub-Atlantic is marked by the late Bronze and
Iron Ages. Rackham suggests the onset of a wetter climate to explain the recurrence
of peat and blanket bogs extending into the forests. According to Godwin birch
began to return and climate change induced in Great Britain "equivalent but not
identical changes in forest composition because of regionalism."

The following sections discuss evidence for the yew's Holocene presence in Ireland

and describe the cultural and biophysical environment that it experienced. This general

picture will enable a better understanding of the site-specific research in County Cork.

The section titles include both archaeological and palynological idioms for the time

periods. Previous palynological investigations are compiled to form a summary (a map of

these locations is provided in Figure 3-3). A section of a conventional pollen diagram is

included here for the reader to better understand the following interpretations (Figure 3-

4).

The Early Postglacial/Boreal and Mesolithic Culture

The 'postglacial climatic optimum' was identified in Scotland by T.F. Jamieson

during his research in the second half of the 19th century (Mitchell and Ryan 1998).

Robert Praeger also identified this warm period in Ireland later in the same century

(Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Evidence from Antarctic ice cores indicates a climatic

optimum occurred during the early Holocene from 11,000-9000 BP

(antcrc.utas.edu.au)('BP' stands for 'Before Present' indicating the number of years

before 1950 A.D.). It now appears that the climatic optimum discovered by Jamieson and

Praeger occurred in Ireland between 7000-6000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998).

The first evidence of humans in Ireland is c. 9000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998),

unusually late for northwestern Europe. The period of 7000-5900 BP is considered the









'climax phase' in Ireland in terms of woodland development (Mitchell 1998). This time

of woodland climax followed a long period of soil development, as the ice cover was

extensive in Ireland at 17,000 BP. Rackham (1980) dates woodland climax in England

earlier, and extending longer at 7500-5100 BP. Bennett (1989) dates it 5000 BP. In any

event, the climax phase is evident in several pollen diagrams by the high concentrations

of major tree taxa around this time period. In Co. Donegal, at Lough Mullaghlahan and

Altar Lough, in Northern Ireland, a climax phase of woodland is evident between 9000-

6000 BP (Fossitt 1994). Taxus is present at both of these sites, more so at Altar Lough,

but it never becomes a significant forest component during this period. Maldonado's

(2002) analysis at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow shows a similar story where hazel, oak,

elm, and pine are prevalent, with alder appearing later in the period. There is no Taxus

present at Maldonado's site during this phase. At Norfolk, England, Keith Bennett

recorded a remarkably similar sequence (1986). This climax phase substantiates Behre's

(1988) conclusion that human disturbance is thought to be "only very local" during the

Mesolithic.

The Atlantic Period and Neolithic Culture

Coxon and O'Connell (1994) note an increase of yew around 6000 BP on

Inishbofin in Co.Galway. This was also noted at Lake Namackanbeg, also in Co.Galway

(Mitchell and Ryan 1998). At Killarney, Co. Kerry, Mitchell (1990) noted an increase of

yew at 5615 +/- 40 BP. These increases are early in comparison to other pollen diagrams.

The climate was changing at this time from a continental climate, hence the term Boreal,

to a more maritime climate known as the Atlantic period.

The Ulmus (elm) decline, a well known postglacial paleoecological event, occurred

Europe-wide during the 6th millennium BP. Mitchell (1990) dates the decline at 5615 +/-









40 BP at Killarney National Park. This date, he comments, is "slightly older than the

range of dates (5100-5300 years BP) for the elm decline recorded in the British Isles."

The decline occurred with such synchroneity that an anthropogenic cause is arguable

(Hirons and Edwards 1986). Birks (1999) associates the decline with disease or disease

plus human impact. Chappellaz et al. (1993) associate it with an episode of cold and arid

conditions. If the latter is correct, yew populations would also decrease due to their

sensitivity to frost and drought and their overall maritime preference. At Killarney, as

previously mentioned, yew increased at 5615+/-40 BP. This is associated with a decline

in elm, which does not support Chappellaz's theory.

The onset of the Atlantic period (and its associated maritime conditions) and

perhaps the abatement of Chappellaz's cold spell, probably explain the numerous yew

pollen increases over the next few thousand years. Many diagrams reveal a significant

increase of yew during the second half of the Holocene but not until about a thousand

years after those noted above. The Atlantic period is noted for the replacement of pine

and birch by oak, alder, and elm. This period should also be known for a sharp rise in

yew at about 4500 BP. This is especially evident in Glendalough in Co. Wicklow

(Maldonado 2002) and Lough Nabraddan and Altar Lough in Co. Donegal (Fossitt 1994).

Mitchell (1988) published a continuous record of yew back to 4850 +/-120 BP in

Killarney. O'Connell et al (1988) identified it at 3940 +/-60 BP in Connemara. Molloy

and O'Connell (1991) noted it at the same time at another Connemara location. The most

significant find lately is on the Aran Islands, Co. Galway where it was the dominant

species at 4200 BP (O'Connell 2001).









The ancient cultures of Ireland left evidence of their presence in the form of four

types of Megalithic tombs, tumuli, standing stones, mounds, souterrains, and cairns.

Megalithic tombs are strongly associated with Neolithic culture. Radiocarbon dating of

court tombs, the earliest type, suggest that they were in use during the 6th millennium BP.

Ireland is well known for portal tombs which have a large capstone situated on smaller

upright stones. The architecture of which is quite spectacular (Figure 3-5). Passage tombs

are also known from the same millennium. Wedge tombs were prevalent in the later

Neolithic. Other Neolithic structures have been found in Counties Antrim, Limerick,

Louth, Mayo, and Tyrone (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Irish Neolithic artifacts include

bowls, polished stone axes, and various flint objects. As previously mentioned, a yew

bow fragment found in Co. Fermanagh is dated to this period (Glover 1979). The

Neolithic seems to be the benchmark for increased human disturbance being noted as

"intensive" c. 4920 +/-45 in Co. Galway (Molloy and O'Connell 1991) and elsewhere in

Europe c. 5330 BP (Edwards and Whittington 1997). This Neolithic clearance was also

noted at G.F. Mitchell's renowned Littleton Bog site in Co. Tipperary (1965) as well as in

Co. Derry, Co. Kerry, and Co. Sligo (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). It is unique then, that the

yew increases during this Atlantic/Neolithic period of "intensive" woodland clearance.

Could the yew have been revered this long ago? Thus leaving the ecological factors at

hand (the onset of an appropriate climate and the decline of elm, which created an

unoccupied niche under the opened woodland canopy) to play their part in the increase of

the species?

The bones of later Neolithic cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and dogs were found

at Newgrange, Co. Meath. Cattle are a major figure in Irish mythology and this site









confirms their presence early in the island's cultural history (cattle become intertwined in

the yew's story as we will later see). The presence of the Ceide Fields in Co. Mayo, an

extensive Neolithic field system, verifies that these early farmers may have lived in large

communities. The Neolithic in Ireland ends sometime around 4500 BP when evidence of

mining and metallurgy appears.

The Sub-Boreal Period and the Copper and Bronze Ages

"More Bronze Age gold hoards have been discovered in Ireland than anywhere else

in Europe" (Walsh 2002). Copper deposits in Cork and Kerry were extensively mined in

the Earlier Bronze Age (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Many copper axes and daggers have

been found that date to this period. Wedge tombs became prolific during the 4th

millennium BP and are often associated with finds of Bell-Beaker pottery (named for the

containers being a bell shape). This Bell-Beaker culture appears to also have been active

"from Poland to Iberia" (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). Stone circles and wedge tombs date to

this period and both are prevalent in the southwest of Ireland. The later Bronze Age

brings a "new range" of implements, weapons, and structures "such as socketed axe-

heads and swords... hill forts and ring forts" (Walsh 2002).

The Littleton Bog site, the type site for the current Littletonian warm stage, clearly

shows the decline of several tree species and the increase of disturbance species during

the Bronze age. Several diagrams (Glandalough (Maldonado 2002), Tralong Bay (Helps

1998), Lough Namackanbeg (O'Connell 2001), and Lough Mallughlahan (Fossitt 1994))

show a continuous record of Taxus during this time suggesting that the species suffered

little in these locations in terms of human disturbance. In some cases the mere persistence

of a species would not necessarily indicate a lack of human disturbance as a species could

be managed to simply retain a certain population level. The slow growth of the yew









makes this a virtually impossible scenario. This brings to mind the myths and laws

associated with the Celtic culture, which are further explored in the following section.

The Sub-Atlantic Period, the Celtic Culture, and the Iron Age

Within this section the use of BP dates will be phased out as we soon enter the

Christian timescale, appropriately used for discussing the last few millennia. Note again

that the year 1950 BP marks the first year of Anno Domini (A.D.).

The wetter climate of the Sub-Atlantic period experienced by the Celts enabled the

yew to be established in many places in Ireland. A continuous record of yew exists from

2500 BP to beyond 1000 BP at 6 sites; Camillan Wood and Derrycunihy Wood (Mitchell

1988), Glendalough (Maldonado 2002), Lough Corcal and Lough Namackanbeg

(O'Connell 2001), and Reenadinna Wood (Mitchell 1990). Yew is, at times, a significant

forest component but is not represented continually at Altar Lough (Fossitt 1994). The

wheel with yew dowels, the boat made of yew, and the yew carved idol were dated to this

Sub-Atlantic period (see chapter 2).

The Celtic arrival coincides with the introduction of the plough. "Frank Mitchell

has argued that the advent of the ard-type plough marks the beginning of the period of

wholesale forest clearance in Ireland" (Nelson and Walsh 1993). During this period the

elm again shows a decline, though not as massive as the first. This could be the result of

culturally selective deforestation. The Celtic tradition places yew in the Airigfedo

category, or a 'noble' of the wood. The elm is placed in the Aithigfedo category, a

'commoner' of the wood. Perhaps the elm's lesser categorization assisted this second

decline.









The Celts and the Coming of Christianity

Forest destruction was "intensive and widespread" in Co. Sligo in the beginning of

the 4th century (Dodson and Bradshaw 1987). This 4th century decline includes elm and

alder, both considered 'commoners,' but also includes oak, a 'noble.' Oak shows a fairly

sudden and significant decline. The 4th century marks the coming of Christianity to

Ireland. Similar results are seen in Connemara, Co. Galway (Molloy and O'Connell

1991) where there is not only a decline in the 'commoners,' but 3 'nobles' (oak, ash, and

holly). The pollen section dated 165-485 A.D. is actually called "Early Christian impact

on vegetation and landscape."

The forests of Ireland, however, were not decimated by these early activities. In

fact, palynological evidence revealed that numerous places in Ireland were densely

forested at the turn of the last millennium. An expansion in woodland is noted at Slish

Lake from 1200-600 BP (750-1350 A.D.). The Littleton Bog site revealed a "lull [in

farming] that sets in about 1000AD" which lasts for a few hundred years. The

Glendalough pollen diagram shows stable woodland to about 1400 A.D. (Maldonado

2002).

At this point the archives become a helpful addition to paleoecological evidence.

Sir James Ware, a famous historian who wrote during the 17th century said "some authors

will have it that Ireland was in old times also called by the historians of that country, the

woody island (Inis-na-siodhbuidhe)" (Harris 1739). Giraldus Cambrensis, a 12th century

world traveler, wrote the Topography ofIreland and the History of the Conquest of

Ireland. His texts are invaluable works on Ireland's natural history. Within these texts we

find verification of Ireland's wooded nature: "Ireland is a country.. well wooded...there









are in some places very beautiful plains, though of limited extent in comparison with the

woods... The woods abound with wild animals... In no part of the world are such vast

herds of boars and wild pigs to be found... It produces stags so fat that they lose their

speed...Ireland is the most temperate of all countries" (Wright 1863). Giraldus also

specifically speaks of the yew: "yews, with their bitter sap, are more frequently to be

found in this country than in any other I have visited" and later states "yews with which

the woods of the island abound" (Wright 1863). His writings were within the Medieval

Warm Period (c. 11- 14th centuries) where climate would have been favorable for the

yew. Palynological evidence revealed yew to be prevalent at 6 sites beyond 950 A.D.,

supporting both the concept of this warm period and the evidence provided by Giraldus.

This 12th century traveler gives us a very important clue in terms of the yew: "Yet the

bows used by this people are not made of horn, or ivory, or yew, but of wild elm;

unpolished, rude, and uncouth" (Wright 1863). It is virtually impossible that the Irish did

not know the quality of yew bows. Could they have revered the tree too much to cut them

down for weapons of war? Conellan (1860) quotes the unknown source "Mr. Bowman"

who discusses the yew's likely role in the culture:

It seems most natural and simple to believe that, being indisputably indigenous, and
being, from its perennial verdure, its longevity, and the durability of its wood, at
once an emblem and a specimen of immortality, its branches would be employed
by our pagan ancestors, on their first arrival here, as the best substitute for the
cypress, to deck the graves of the dead and for other sacred purposes. As it is the
policy of innovators in religion to avoid unnecessary interference with matters not
essential, these, with many other customs of heathen origin, would be retained and
engrafted on Christianity on its first introduction. (p154)

The Irish tenaciously held on to their traditions in the face of English conquest.

Giraldus states in regards to Christianity: "The faith having been planted in the island









from the time of St. Patrick" it is a wonder that this nation remains "to this day so very

ignorant of the rudiments of Christianity" (Wright 1863).

The Changes of the 12th Century and the Norman Invasion

Though Giraldus wrote a fantastic natural history that brings forth images of a

beautiful country, 12th century Ireland was undergoing tremendous physical and cultural

change. Continuous waves of religious 'reformers' arrived in Ireland. The Cistercians

arrived and were soon followed by the Augustinians. Mitchell and Ryan (1998) go as far

as saying "they provided a model of monastic rule which sounded the death-knell of the

ancient native form." In 1171 Henry II of England claimed himself Lord of Ireland and

began the process of subinfeudation. He told Pope Adrian that Ireland's religion was

corrupt, practically extinct, "and his purpose was to bring the barbarous nation within the

fold of the faith" (MacManus 1921). The opinions of Henry II and Giraldus imply that

the Irish weren't strict Christians, suggesting that the Celtic beliefs were still somewhat in

place. The writings of Giraldus would come in handy in the coming years of foreign

exploitation, like an explorative report for imperialism. The Anglo-Norman invasions

wreaked havoc amongst the Irish rulers and their landscape. "There has been fighting in

all provinces, endless campaigns, cattle-raids, burnings, atrocities Ireland lies like a

trembling sod" (Mitchell and Ryan 1998 quote an unknown author). After the in-depth

exploration of the Irish reverence of yew it is dreadful to read Burke's (1958) comment;

"The conquest of Ireland, in 1172, would not have been possible without the use of the

longbow."

The ensuing centuries were ones of continuous conflict. The 13th century saw a

tremendous boom in foreign trade within the areas under English control. The natives

continually challenged English rule, at one point claiming Brian O'Neill High King of









Ireland. In the 14th century English trade imported the Black Death to Dublin and King

Edward III was busy fighting the Hundred Years War. About a third of the area of Ireland

was obedient to England and cross-cultural conflict continued. Volumes have been

written about this period in Ireland's history. The summation, for this particular subject,

is that the ancient Irish culture was to receive a series of blows of which it would never

thoroughly recover. However, throughout these centuries the Irish continued to attempt to

resist the Normans, struggling to preserve their ways of life. The Irish retain a very

important trait that isn't as evident in other cultures. MacManus (1990) clarifies this trait

in the following lines: "Here let us understand that the ancient historical legends of

Ireland are, generally speaking, far from being baseless myths. The Irish people are a

people who eminently cling to tradition." Intermarriage was prevalent between the Celts

and the Normans and there is a common saying that the Normans became more Irish than

the Irish. Thus the Celtic ways were wholly preserved for thousands of years until the

Tudor monarchs began to shake the foundations. One hypothesis would be that the

destruction of woods during Irish history was slower than the rest of Europe because of

the Celtic adoration of trees (and Celts prevailed in Ireland longer than anywhere else in

Europe). A 14th century author Caithreim Thoirdhealbhaigh described cattle being hidden

from raiding armies in the wooded mountains of Co. Clare (O'Sullivan 1993). The 8th

century tree-laws revealed the importance of cattle to early society. This remarkably was

still evident in the 16th century when the Earl of Kildare received 340 cows to

compensate for the death of his foster brother (O'Donovan 1940). Yew reverence had

also prevailed as a hand carved yew drinking vessel was found in Co. Fermanagh not

"sufficiently Christian" in design but elaborate enough to suggest a religious function









(Seaby 1966). The author declares "the majority of older wooden vessels, whether hand-

cut or turned are found to be of yew."

Sadly these times could possibly mark the end of the yew woods of Ireland. In

1551 the English Privy Council wrote a letter to the Lord Deputy stating that the yews in

Ireland be used for bowstaves. This one record in the Calendar of State Papers (1509-

1573) could have meant the near total destruction of the physical presence of a cultural

icon.

The House of Tudor and the House of Stuart

The 16th century brought the wrath of the House of Tudor to Ireland. In 1541 Henry

VIII 'raised' Ireland to an English 'kingdom' and government assisted settlements, or

plantations, were created whereby the natives were dislodged and land was parceled out

to English settlers. Queen Elizabeth continued her father's exploitation of Ireland into the

17th century followed by an additional blow from James I of the House of Stuart, who

proceeded to reform inhabitants "better than any" since the 11th century invasion. "He

abolished many Irish customs which supplied the place of laws" (Scrivenor 1967). James

Ware similarly stated that ancient law remained in full vigor in those areas not under

English rule and that English law wasn't universally acknowledged and submitted to until

the reign of King James I (Harris 1739). So the 16th and 17th centuries placed Ireland into

turmoil once again. Crotty (1966) says it best: "Each upheaval represented the violent

rejection by the old Irish order of the new order which its English exponents sought to

impose."

It is important to note the situation in England in order to understand Ireland's fate

during these years and to further understand the story of Youghal told in the following

section.









The forests in the south of England, decimated by Roman iron smelters, had

regenerated. There was plentiful timber when Henry VIII became King in 1509, though it

had been an export to France and Holland since the 14th century. The economy was

stable, but the country was importing large amounts of salt, dyes, glass and iron products.

While other countries had already destroyed their forests in order to export these goods,

England still enjoyed substantial forest wealth. As the country would soon see, the

amount exported did not nearly equal the amount needed to produce such goods. Despite

the stable economy, the King became disenchanted as he witnessed Spain and Portugal

making great profits from foreign exploitation and trade. In comparison to her European

neighbors, England was lagging behind in industrial and maritime development.

The danger of being reliant on imports soon became apparent. Rumors of war

began to circulate and foreign arms supplier's halted export. The King moved quickly

toward self-sufficiency. By 1549 the iron veins and oak woods of Sussex supported 53

ironworks (Perlin 1991). Within a few years local communities began to see the

devastation of their life-supporting resource. Wood was quickly becoming unavailable to

the common people. The Duke of Somerset sided with the people and was subsequently

arrested and beheaded for aiding the insurrection of the King's subjects (perhaps this is

where the term 'ruling with an iron fist' came from). When Elizabeth I came into power,

she decided the best thing for England was to decrease importation and further self-

sufficiency. Copper smelting, salt production and glassworks all came into being, further

devastating the forests. Maritime power was nonexistent without timber. In order to build

a cannon-bearing warship, about 2,000 oaks had to be felled (each having matured a

century)(Perlin 1991). Shipbuilding was big business for Elizabeth and the oaks of









Sussex were believed to be the best in the world for the job. The execution of Mary,

Queen of Scots, provoked Philip II of Spain to send his Armada to invade England in

1588. When the English defeated the Spanish Armada, at the expense of England's oak

forests, it was the beginning of her reigning power over the seas.

After reviewing this course of history it is understandable that Perlin (1991) made

the statement "Elizabethan society... resulted in more destruction and waste of woodlands

than in any other preceding period." As their native forests quickly ran out, English

magnates began to hunger for Ireland's forests.

Ireland's Losses

The extent of forests in Ireland during early Tudor times is legendary. In many a

history book one will find reference to the dark and deep forests as strongholds for the

'barbarous' Irish rebels. Elizabeth then came along and ordered the destruction of the

woods to deprive the rebels of their shelter and to reinforce England's resources. Boate

(1652) describes this time: "But the English having settled themselves in the land, did by

degrees greatly diminish the Woods in all the places where they were masters, partly to

deprive the Theeves and Rogues, who used to lurk in the Woods in great numbers, of

their refuge and starting-holes, and partly to gain the greater scope of profitable lands."

In 1589 it was proposed to William Cecil that all glassworks be moved to Ireland

so as to spare England's few remaining forests (Perlin 1991). Though wood product

export was already underway during the 15th century in the form of barrels, boards and

oars (Down 1987), Boate (1652) dates the greatest destruction of woodland in Ireland

from 1603 to 1641. Mitchell (1988) (within his palynological analyses) correlates major

woodland disturbance with the "Elizabethan invasion" of the 17th century. During this

century there were many industries reliant on timber.









Iron ore was widespread in Ireland and ironmaking flourished during the 17th

century. MacCracken (1957) talks of iron furnaces moving around Ireland as the local

woods became exhausted. Coopering was obviously very dependent on the native

resources as all items were made of wood. "Staves and barrels of all sizes formed a

large part of the Irish timber trade..." (MacCracken 1971). New colonizers needed

accommodation according to their tastes, which were not houses made of wattle and daub

or stone, but wood. This trend did not last long as timber, near to the new settlements,

was running short. Dugout boats and cots (small primitive boats) had been used in Ireland

for centuries, but during the 17th century ship construction began (built of local oak).

Only a few were sea-going vessels as numerous river boats were needed due to poor road

infrastructure. The size of these boats must not be underestimated. MacCracken (1971)

mentions three boats of the mid-17th century at 18, 25, and 40 tons.

After reviewing all of the industries reliant on timber, one would think there would

be no forest left. MacCracken (1971) gave an estimate of 12 12 percent of Ireland being

covered by woodland in the beginning of the 17th century. In the beginning of the 19th

century only 2 percent remained. MacCracken (1971) talks of 17th century authors

mentioning the possibility of walking on the tops of trees for long distances. By the early

1700s timber was being imported into Ireland.

An 18th century traveler relates a completely different image than that of Giraldus

six centuries before him: "The greatest part of the kingdom exhibits a naked, bleak,

dreary view for want of wood, which has been destroyed for a century past with the most

thoughtless prodigality..." (Young 1925).









A Changed Icon

The idolization of yew by the 1800s was completely different to that of the past.

The professional landscape gardener Ninian Niven introduced the French style to the

gentleman's Irish garden in the 1800s. "Huge parallel hedges of yew, 250 years old, but

healthy with clean, red stems, clipped but arched and bulging like static elephants" reads

an 1895 description of the Yew Arcades in Co. Meath (Malins et al. 1980). "A catellated

yew hedge on either side, and the walk terminated in a nymphaeum, flanked by obelisks

sculpted in yew," reads a description of St. Anne's Garden in Co. Dublin (Malins et al.

1980). I fear to imagine a yew personified in her ancient noble nature gazing in disgust at

her piers shaped "like static elephants." It also became fashionable in the 19th century to

plant Monks walks, parallel rows of yews, which had been a previous historic feature of

several abbeys. Yews can still be found in gentlemen's gardens. The Duke of Devonshire

has an impressive yew hedge in his gardens at Lismore in Co. Waterford (Figure 3-6). It

seems that after the devastation of the woods in the previous centuries, these gardens

served as refuges. Boate said in 1652 "in some places you may travel whole dayes long

without seeing any woods or trees except a few about Gentlemans houses."

Summary of the Regional Analysis

Palynological evidence verifies that the yew was an intermittent member of the

Irish woodlands during the Pleistocene. Ultimately, it was a fluctuating member of the

landscape for the last several thousand years. The yew was prevalent at 7 Atlantic period

locations researched by palynologists. This time is associated with a flourishing Neolithic

culture known to have otherwise reduced woodlands. Many palynological investigations

have shown the continuance of yew through the following Sub-Boreal and Sub-Atlantic

climatic periods. The Celtic culture inhabited the area during the Sub-Atlantic and there









is no evidence that yew populations declined, rather, they persevered while other species

declined. The coupling of palynological and archival evidence verifies the yew's

abundance at the beginning of the last millennium. Giraldus stated in the 12th century that

he had never seen such an abundance of yew in his travels. The Irish culture at this point

was bombarded with wave after wave of Norman invasions but it is reported that

Christianity and English law did not significantly replace the Celtic belief systems until

after the reign of James I. It is likely that the requirement for longbows and the eventual

16th century law to use the yews of Ireland for such, along with England's subinfeudation

and general needs for exploiting Ireland's woodlands, devastated yew populations. The

Celtic reverence had been lost with the cultural change. By the 19th century the yew was a

popular element of gentlemen's landscaped gardens and a sporadic element of

churchyards, but rare on the natural landscape. The ultimate decline of these trees is thus

intelligently conjectured at the regional scale. The research now moves to a finer

resolution analysis, a detailed look at the species decline in the parish of Youghal.

Section 2: The Prehistoric and Historic Presence of Yew in Youghal and the
Physical, Political, and Economical Environment that Influenced its Eventual
Decline

The following section, a local account of a species decline, begins with an

introduction to Youghal's history and a summarization of several of the town's attributes.

This initial sub-section surveys the etymological variations of the town's name and its

evolution from Celtic to Anglicized form. It also presents an introduction to the area's

geology, the limestone of which provides the yew tree's preferred calcareous

environment. Lastly, the area's changing sea level and local shoreline are discussed. The

study area summary is followed by the methods, data, and interpretation of the local

pollen analysis. The core site locations are described first, followed by sections on pollen









concentration and counting methods, and an interpretation of the pollen data. The

palynological analysis ends during the first century A.D. At this point, archival

information is used to investigate the yew's history as a landscape element onward to the

19th century.

Introduction to Youghal

A brief history

The parish of Youghal at the mouth of the River Blackwater in eastern Co. Cork,

south-central Ireland (see figure 1-4), was possibly settled in the Mesolithic, however,

"little is known about the earliest settlement" (Youghal Chamber of Tourism and

Commerce 2001). The Celts left architectural evidence in the area thus their presence is

substantiated. The first historical evidence, however, of occupation in the Youghal area

isn't until 402 A.D. when a Christian mission was entrenched at Ardmore, just across the

River Blackwater. The well-documented Youghal begins in 1211 A.D. when the

Normans took the local Gaelic chieftain prisoner (O'Brien 1982). By the later 13th

century Youghal was second only to Bristol, England as the busiest port in the British

Isles (Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce 2001).

A town with many names

The Annals of the Four Masters (AFM) is a manuscript that chronicles events in

Ireland from before the "Age of Christ" to the year 1616 A.D. The AFM mentions an

area called Eochaill in the 9th century. By 1224 A.D. the AFM refers to this area as

Youghal. Toponymic analysis revealed 17 town names where the ancient word Eochaill

had been manipulated. A few examples are; Aughall, Oghill, Okyle, and of course,

Youghal. Kevin Murray, a linguist at University College Cork, verified "there is no doubt

from a linguistic point of view... the standard compound 'eo' (yew) and 'caill' (wood,









forest) give Eochaill (modern Irish spelling), translating as 'yew-wood'"(Department of

Early & Medieval Irish, University College Cork, Cork, personal communication,

October 2, 2001). In the 17th century Thomas Dineley wrote this account:

Yoghal, or Youghall, took its name from the vulgar O-Kyle, which signifies "of the
wood," its original foundation being where was a thick wood, as I was informed by
a very reverend Divine, Raymund Bourgh, al Bourk, of the University of Dublin.
(Shirley 1863 p322)

Evelyn Shirley, the author of the publication of Dineley's extracts, places a footnote here

saying that Youghal actually means yew-wood, not just 'of the wood.' In these few lines

we have seen the town of Youghal (as it is presently spelled) written as Eochaill, O-Kyle,

Yoghal, and Youghall.

Lord (1784) states that "Youghall" in latin is "Ochella," whereas Coleman (1923)

claims the latin version is "Jochull." Historical variation of the spelling varies

enormously. Within Field's Handbook of Youghal (1896) there are at least 10 different

spellings of Youghal (Youghall, Yoghill, Yoghil, Yoghell, Yoghel, Yough-halle, Eo-

chaille, Yoghyll, Yogholl, Yoghull). This book is a compilation that includes entries from

many sources with a date range of 402 A.D. 1896 A.D. Within Lord's (1784) Ancient

and Present State of Youghal there are 4 different spellings (Ochill, Jokile, Youkelain,

Ochella), none of which are used in Field (1896). Walter Raleigh used a seemingly

unique spelling "Yoholl" (Latham 1999). A compilation of other sources from the 16-

19th centuries reveals a pattern that eventually led to the common spelling (Table 3-2).

The geological landscape and its origins

Southeast Cork has an interesting geologic structure. It is characterized by

alternating east-west trending Devonian sandstone ridges and Carboniferous limestone

valleys, the limestone resting in downfolded portions of sandstone. During the early









Devonian, c. 400 million years ago (mya), the land that became Ireland was in the

southern hemisphere located at about 200 latitude and experienced a semi-desert climate.

As time passed, the land in the north eroded and transported large quantities of sand and

mud into the area's South Munster Basin. These sediments hardened under pressure into

sandstone. By about 350 mya warm shallow seas flooded the basin and limestone

eventually covered the sandstone. Sandstone and shale later formed atop the rising

landscape and warm conditions enabled colonization of tropical forests and coal

formation ensued. This limestone- sandstone/shale-coal period is known as Ireland's

Carboniferous period (355-290 mya). At the end of this period, tectonic activity affected

southern Ireland where the old sandstone and overlying Carboniferous deposits were

folded "into pleats which ran east/west" (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This stage of folding

is known as the Variscan Orogeny. At some point a carbonexodus occurred, a period

where denudationn stripped away virtually all the coal" (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This is

understandable as Ireland at this point had a desert climate, being located somewhere

above 100 latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. Desert erosion was extensive and much

of the Carboniferous limestone was once again exposed. In southern Ireland, much of the

limestone was removed except for the troughs between the sandstone ridges (it is within

these limestone troughs that we find yews today). Figure 3-7 illustrates the formation of

the ridge and valley system.

The town of Youghal sits on a Devonian outcrop of Sandstone and Mudstone.

Situated on a hillside, the town slopes upward from Youghal Harbour in the east to an

elevation of 80 m to the west. Immediately to the north is the Tourig River Valley

primarily underlain with Carboniferous limestone. To the south is a large valley c. 5 km









in N-S width and c. 65 km in E-W length, the majority of which is below 20 m in

elevation. This valley, locally known as the Cork-Youghal Valley, is also primarily

underlain with Carboniferous limestone, the preferred substrate for yew.

The area's shoreline

Mean sea level in Ireland has varied over thousands of years due to local and global

scale processes. Dr. Robert Devoy, the previously mentioned coastal specialist and

lecturer at University College Cork, states that sea level was c. 60 m lower 14,000 years

ago and that it rose at c. 6 mm per year until about 5000 years ago (Geography

Department, University College Cork, Cork, personal communication, January 8, 2002).

This implies that sea level was still 12 m below current sea level 6000 years ago. Devoy

(1984) states sea level at Cork Harbour, 35 km west of Youghal, was 12 m lower at 5500

B.C.

Robin Wingfield has proposed that the lower sea level due to the last glacial period

created a land bridge linking Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford (approximately 100 km east of

Youghal) to Devon, England by 11,000 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998). This coincides

with the Woodgrange Interstadial (13,000-10,600 BP) period when massive immigrations

of flora and fauna have been found in many pollen diagrams. Pollen studies in America

have shown that during the Holocene, oak and spruce migrated northward at rates of "up

to one kilometer per year" (Pitelka 1997). These early Holocene migrations were not

impeded by human landscapes that today render increasingly impassable barriers. These

theories lead to the belief that yew would have established itself in southern Ireland first

as it moved northward in the postglacial. Dr. Wingfield proposes that the land bridge was

severed, thus sea levels rose, by 9500 BP (Mitchell and Ryan 1998).









Youghal's shoreline

Directly to the west of the town of Youghal is a long, windswept strand (Figure 3-

8). This beach is about 6 km long and is interrupted, about a kilometer to the east of its

terminus, by the mouth of the River Womanagh. This strand is home to an extensive peat

bed only exposed when storms move the sand to the west (Figure 3-9). The peat holds at

least several hundred fossilized tree stumps. Both Dr. Devoy and I individually obtained

samples of these stumps. Cellular analysis proved them to be of yew, oak, and alder

(Robert Devoy, Geography Department, University College Cork, Cork, personal

communication, January 8, 2002). Radiocarbon dating revealed two yew fossils to be

287060 BP and 245060 BP (Beta Analytic Inc., Miami, results catalogued in Appendix

B). A literature search provided no historical evidence of a woodland in this location.

This beach, commonly known as 'the strand,' was described in the 18th century as "a

common turf-bog, covered over with sand and pebbles; from whence not only good turf

is dug every season, but also great quantities of timber trees, as fir, hazel, etc are found"

(Lord 1786).

Youghal was a tourist spot during the 1800s. The relatively fair weather and

inviting beach brought people from all over Ireland. The beach, however, was

disappearing. "The sea is making great inroads on the land along this shore... The flat

strand was once a race course" (Gibson 1861). Erosion was so serious that in 1898 Mr.

Allanson-Winn proposed an embankment, sluice and sluice run, and 17 groynes

(Allanson-Winn 1903). The project was completed several years later but not in time to

stop a breach into the 600-acre Ballyvergan Marsh directly behind the strand (Figure 3-10

shows the location of the town, strand, and marsh). The attempt at halting mother nature









was only temporary. Charles O'Connell (1945) noted several indications that the

shoreline around Youghal was continuing to erode rapidly: The shoreline at Inch, a town

to the southwest, had receded 120 yards in 70 years and the shoreline at Ballycotton, also

to the west, had receded within living memory. He also talked of a dolmen in the

Rostellan area to the west that is submerged at high tide. The presence of peat, tree

fossils, and the dolmen on the shoreline verify that sea level was once much lower and

that a forest once survived here.

The Yew in Youghal's Prehistory Paleoecological Evidence

The in situ fossils on the strand, the presence of peatland, and the town's well-

documented history, affirmed Youghal to be an excellent location for reconstructing a

species decline via archival and palynological research. Palynological research begins by

obtaining sediment cores that contain the microfossils (pollen) that reveal sequences of

past vegetative landscapes. There are several methods of obtaining these cores. Basically,

a coring instrument is pushed into the ground to retrieve the surface meter, the core is

recovered, and the mechanism is placed down the same hole to acquire the next meter

and so on. The sediment of the core is then sampled at intervals, the space of which

depends on the desired temporal resolution. The sampling procedure can be done in the

field or in the laboratory. Laboratory analysis follows which consists of sub-sampling

each interval (depth) and processing the sediment to eliminate everything except the

pollen. The pollen is then placed on slides and the taxa that survived at that depth,

ultimately that time period, can be identified. This data, in interval order from top to

bottom, gives a chronological history of the vegetation. In this case, analysis of 2 cores

taken at Youghal provided a Holocene chronology for the presence of yews in the area.









Core site locations

Ballyvergan Marsh The east side of Ballyvergan Marsh is located just over one

kilometer southwest of town. It stretches westward lying just to the south of the N25, the

main Youghal to Cork City road. The marsh lies in the Cork-Youghal Valley and is

underlain with Carboniferous limestone. To the north and to the east (where the town

lies) are red sandstone ridges. The derelict G.S.&W. Railway runs east/west

approximately through the center of the marsh. The marsh has an area of c. 246 hectares

and is home to large populations ofPhragmites communis (common reed). Salix (willow)

and Alnus (alder) dot the landscape and Carex (sedge) fills any Phragmites gaps. The

town acknowledges the marsh as an important tourist opportunity and have formed the

Ballyvergan Marsh Committee to watch over this proposed Natural Heritage Area.

The marsh was systematically probed to find a site that would provide the longest

core in an attempt to cover the longest possible time period. The probing was carried out

using a connectable system of 1-meter aluminum rods provided by the Botany

Department at Trinity University, Dublin. The average depth of sediment atop the

limestone base is 3.95 meters. This average of 30 probe depths does not include the

exceptional location that was chosen for coring, where a 6 + meter depth was located.

The site of this core, hence referred to as the Marsh Core (MC), located 51 56.19

min N latitude, 070 52.25 min W longitude, was cored on August 26th, 2001. Boards were

carried to the site and placed on the surface of the Marsh to form a sturdy base. A

Livingstone corer, provided by the above Department, was used to extract an eight-meter

core with a two and a half-inch diameter. Each meter of sediment was preserved in a

primary layer of plastic wrap and a secondary layer of aluminum foil. The cores were









removed from the marsh in half pipes of PVC and that evening placed in plastic tubes for

transportation. The top two-meters contained peat and were subsampled at c.10 cm

intervals in February, 2002 at the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute (LUECI)

at the University of Florida (UF). The bottom six-meters were gray silt and were

subsampled at 10 cm intervals. The silt subsamples were sent to Robert Devoy at UCC

for diatom analysis which is incomplete at this time.

The Youghal Strand The second core was taken from the peatbed on the strand on

December 21st, 2001. This core (Strand Core = SC) was extracted at 51 56.020 min N

latitude, 070 51.545 min W longitude. SC is .857 kilometers from MC. Thus the strand

site is .857 km east-southeast (bearing 1110) of the marsh site. An auger corer supplied

by the Geography Department at Trinity College, Dublin was used to obtain the core. A

two-meter core, with a one-inch diameter, was extracted and subsampled at the site. This

core had the same gross stratigraphy as the marsh core with just less than two meters of

peat followed by gray silt. Subsampling was not at consistent intervals because of the

nature of the core. Wood was encountered at many depths thus the sampling depths

became irregular. The samples were placed in small, labeled plastic bags for

transportation.

Con Foley of the Youghal Council Yard was interested in the structure of the

sediment so he ordered a backhoe from town that dug a five and a half-meter hole. There

was just less than two-meters of peat then three-meters of gray silt followed by pink clay.

We did not reach the limestone base as the tide was quickly coming in. Subsamples of the

bottom three-meters were sent to Robert Devoy for diatom analysis, which is incomplete

at this time.









Pollen concentration

The subsamples from both cores were processed at the LUECI laboratory at UF.

The pollen concentration method for pollen analysis was as follows:

1. Subsamples of 1cm3 were taken from the selected samples of MC and SC.

2. The subsamples were placed in labeled 16X125 polypropylene test tubes.

3. A solution of 10% NaOH was added to the tubes.

4. The tubes were placed in a 900C water bath for 27 minutes, stirring every 5
minutes.

5. The tubes were 'vibrated' in a FS110 de-ionizer to reduce clumping and thus
reduce losses during the sieving process.

6. The samples were then poured through a 106 |tm sieve into several test tubes,
washing the sieve and original test tube with deionized water.

7. The samples were centrifuged at 2500 rpm for 5 minutes and the samples were
reassembled into one test tube each. (each step is now followed by the same
centrifugation)

8. All samples were washed 8-10 times with deionized water (until the supernatant
was clear).

9. The samples were again 'vibrated' to reduce clumping.

10. The samples then underwent a glacial acetic acid wash in order to remove all water
before acetolysis.

11. Erdtmann's acetolysis mixture (9ml of acetic anhydride + Iml concentrated
sulphuric acid) was added to the samples and placed in the water bath for 4
minutes, stirring occasionally.

12. The samples were again washed with glacial acetic acid.

13. The samples were washed with tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA).

After the TBA was decanted, the tubes were covered with several layers of

AccuWipe tissue, enclosed in the idle fume hood, and left for several days in order to

make sure the residual TBA had evaporated. Six to 10 drops of silicon oil were then









added to the remaining pollen concentration in the test tubes. Three slides were made

from each sample with material directly from the test tube.

Pollen counting

Two slides were chosen to represent each sample (depth). The first 100 pollen

grains encountered on each slide were tallied along with a separate count of the copious

Poylpodiaceae (ferns) spores. The grains were counted as Taxus (yew) or non-Taxus and

the easily identified taxa such as; Alnus (alder), Salix (willow), Quercus (oak), Pinus

(pine), Betula (birch), Ericales (heather), Graminae (grass), Urtica (nettle), and Plantago

(plantain) were tallied. The preservation and number of identified grains varied

tremendously through both cores.

Radiocarbon dating

The peat of both MC and SC was encumbered with pieces of plant material. Four

samples of this material were collected from SC for radiocarbon dating: The samples

were taken from 12 cm, 86 cm, 120 cm, and 180 cm from the surface. This core was

chosen for dating because of the presence of fossilized yew stumps in the immediate area.

The four samples were dried and ground at LUECI by Dr. Jason Curtis. The samples

were then sent to the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry in California. The

resulting 14C ages were 1920+35, 3115+35, 387034, and 4555+35 radiocarbon years BP

respectively (see Appendix B for a copy of the results). These dates were used to identify

the temporal characteristics of the core.

Pollen data

Because of the inconsistency of sampling depth for the SC, the coarse sampling

resolution of the MC (10 cm), the fact that only 200 grains per depth were counted, and

there was a low percentage of identified pollen, I did not use the common diagram









method of pollen percentage presentation. Also, the purpose of this section was originally

to simply identify the presence/absence of yew at different depths and to create solely a

yew chronology. Modified diagrams (Figures 3-11 and 3-12), created in Microsoft Excel

and Word 2000, reveal the relative pollen abundance of individual taxa that can be

visually compared to others without inferring amounts between depths. Overall temporal

patterns of individual taxa can be observed by following its representative column. The

first row of figures 3-11 (marsh core pollen data) and 3-12 (strand core pollen data) are

the common taxa found in the respective core. The rows below reveal the abundance of

the taxa's pollen/spore grains at each sampled depth. The size of the rectangular symbol

is representative of the number of grains found at the particular depth. Out of the 519

entries (all non-zero pollen/spore counts for each taxa at each depth in both diagrams)

495 (95%) had counts of 42 or less pollen/spore grains. Of the remaining 24 relatively

high pollen/spore entries 14 (58%) belong to Polypodiaceae (ferns), three to Alnus

(alder), six to Carex (sedge), and one to Graminae (grass). These four taxa are often over-

represented in pollen analysis. Two symbols in the diagrams are dedicated to these high

grain counts, one representative of 43-121 pollen/spores and one representative of 122-

200 pollen/spores. The smaller symbols represent increments of 1-5, 6-10, 11-20, 21-

30, and 31-42 grains. Though 74% of the entries fall between 1 and 10 grains, it is

unlikely that variations among such small numbers represent a significant change in

vegetation. Thus only two symbols, or categories, are dedicated to occurrences of less

than 10 grains.

Once the raw data (provided in Appendix C) was transformed into these seven

categories, the number of category changes between adjacent depths was tallied to find









significant changes in vegetation and delineate pollen zones (these counts are

documented in Appendix C as a table coupled with the raw data). Similarities to the

generalized zones described earlier in the work are seen in the diagrams and discussed in

the interpretation. The creation of zones on the MC pollen diagram was done without

consulting the SC diagram and vice versa. The zones correlated well enabling the

consideration of the pollen diagrams as one entity. The data, transformed into atypical,

but simply created pollen diagrams, successfully reveals general changes across the

landscape through geologic time.

Interpretation and discussion of the pollen data retrieved from the cores

The deepest peat of the cores dates to c. 5000 yr BP. At this point the limestone

lowland extended farther to the south and east, beyond the current shoreline, as the sea is

shallow and only reaches 10 m below sea level 5 km away from shore.

Zone I- Pollen in both sediment cores suggests a freshwater habitat in the area

until c. 4500 BP. Taxa such as Myriophyllum (water milfoil), Nymphaea (water lily), and

Typha (bulrush/cattail) are present at both sites and Potamogeton pondweedd) was

identified at MC. Yew, elm, alder, oak, pine, and hazel, were present at both sites by the

end of the period.

We can imagine a landscape with numerous vegetation groups and a freshwater

pond or lake. The yew and oak survived on the well-drained soils while alder occupied

the wetter niche. The presence of heather and relatively high grass pollen at SC suggests

areas of open woodland. The yew would have needed shade for its establishment and

hazel and oak likely filled the requirement. The pine clung to the poorer, less developed

soils of the nearby sandstone ridges.









Zone II The freshwater environment turned into a fully-developed woodland by c.

4400 BP which lasted until c. 4000 BP. The typical period for developed woodland in

northwestern Europe is c. 6500-5000 BP (Rackham's Zone VIIa). The various groups of

vegetation, occurring at the conclusion of Zone I, had further developed after the

freshwater environment abated. At SC, hazel provided the shade for a yew/oak woodland

to develop on the well-drained soils with fern occupying the understory. The hazel at MC

provided the shade for yew to increase during the next zone. A wet woodland existed at

both sites with alder, willow, and sedge. Birch and pine also endured throughout the

period. SC had a more dense woodland than MC as heather disappears at this site, oak

and yew are better represented, and holly appears (a common member of a well-

developed oak/yew complex). Open areas also existed as grasses are represented at both

sites throughout the zone with bedstraw (Gallium) adding to the diversity at SC.

Zone III This zone includes an elm decline. Since the core does not provide a

longer chronology, it is impossible to see what the elm populations were c. 5200 BP

when elm was rapidly declining throughout northwestern Europe. Hirons and Edwards

(1986) noted a second elm decline in Co. Tyrone at about 4300 BP when elm somewhat

recovered from an initial decline before decreasing again. The synchroneity of the initial

6th millennium BP elm decline argues against human interference. The ultimate decline at

Youghal occurred c. 3900 BP. Pine disappears at both sites just after the elm but yew

continues to be represented at both sites. If climate was the culprit for the elm decline, it

certainly wasn't an onset of cold as yew representation does not significantly falter. The

yew/oak/fern complex is well represented at SC. This type of woodland occurs to the

north of present day Youghal at Glengarra Wood in Co. Tipperary and is discussed later









in the document. Plantago and nettle are both represented at SC during this zone and MC

shows the largest spike of nettle found at either site. The presence of these disturbance

indicators coupled with the reduction of pine suggests human disturbance. Bronze Age

disturbance has been noted at many sites in Ireland, as was previously discussed. The fact

that the yew/oak woodland persists at SC supports that the pre-Celtic inhabitants of this

area valued these species. Alder, willow, and sedge are well represented at MC. Thus MC

remains the wetter site while SC has occurrences of Lactuceae (dandelion), Aster, and the

return of bedstraw.

The similarity to other pollen diagrams, in terms of yew enduring this period of

decline of other taxa, is striking. Devastation of yew populations is more likely to show

up in the pollen record as it would tend to be absent from the record longer than other

taxa because of its slow growth and late sexual maturity. This concept coupled with the

consistent presence of its pollen suggests that the yew was relatively undisturbed during

this period.

Zone IV- This zone marks a major change at MC that begins at c. 3000 yr BP. The

count of alder and willow pollen are low in comparison to the previous zones. Decreasing

pollen values (excluding the grasses) characterize Zone IV at MC. This period of reduced

tree and shrub taxa is coupled with an all-time low of sedge (sedge is indicative of moist

conditions and is a dominant feature of the other zones at MC). What is notable here is

that this phenomenon is not coupled at MC with the presence of disturbance indicators

like nettle and plantain. The time period lies at the end of Godwin and Rackham's 'sub-

Boreal' zone, a drier period after the 'Atlantic' phase. This scenario sets up an argument

for climate change.









SC shows a similar phase though not as obvious and would probably not be

interpreted the same way without the evidence from the nearby MC. This period begins

with an increase in alder only to drop off mid-way through the zone. By the end of the

zone oak and willow disappear. Yew disappears briefly at the same point that alder

diminishes. Beech (Betula) and holly (Ilex) pollen were identified only once in this core,

just before the drop of alder and yew. Hazel does not seem to be effected by the changes

occurring at this time at SC (but it does disappear at MC). Though nettle and plantain

occasionally show up in this zone at SC, they do not appear coupled with the declines. In

fact both of these disturbance indicators drop off at the same point as the yew, alder, and

heather. Perhaps the sub-Boreal period occurred slightly later in this region.

Zone V- This zone begins c. 2500 BP. Alder and willow values are again low at

MC but are well represented at SC. Sedge increases at both sites, indicating the

abatement of the previous dry period. Oak, yew, and fern are represented at both sites.

The fact that this oak/yew/fern complex is indicated at both sites suggests this habitat was

relatively more extensive during this time also supporting that the previous dry period

had abated. Birch, elm, and pine make a brief appearance at SC and birch is consistent at

MC. Both disturbance taxa appear but do not occur in great numbers.

The time frame indicates possible Celtic presence. The record of yew persisting

through Celtic occupation elsewhere in Ireland was previously discussed and is evident in

these cores. Disturbance isn't dismissed, but yew and oak pollen are not obviously

reduced. Grasses are fairly consistent and do not show any dramatic increases nor do

disturbance taxa during this zone. The absence of disturbance taxa and grass pollen does

not support the theory of the association of Celtic arrival with the plough at this location.









Perhaps the favorable climate and a low human population enabled sustainable use of the

woodland.

Zone VI- This is the last observable zone at SC as beach erosion has removed peat

from the site for hundreds of years. The mid point of the zone was dated at c. 1920 BP

(mid first century A.D.). The yew persists throughout the zone at both sites as does oak,

alder, hazel, sedge, fern, and grass. Woodland, wet woodland, and scrubland were all

present at this time. Perhaps the landscape included an alder/willow/sedge wet woodland,

a hazel/grass scrubland, and a yew/oak/fern woodland.

This zone marks the introduction of another disturbance taxa at MC, Equisetum

(horse-tail), which thrives along the railway line of the marsh today. The three

disturbance taxa are persistent at MC during this zone. Lime (Tilia) and birch disappear

at MC and willow decreases at SC. Birch and willow are both considered 'commoners' of

the woods in Celtic law. The yew/oak complex is once again undisturbed, and both trees

are 'nobles' of the woods. This evidence supports the strength of the Celtic culture in the

area.

Zone VII- This zone is only evident at MC and is characterized by an absence of

all tree taxa except alder and an increase in sedge. The radiocarbon date indicates that this

zone included the commencement of the Christianization of the area. Fine resolution

could not be obtained for the last thousand years. The site was so heavily populated with

reed and the roots penetrated to 70 cm. It was necessary to dig out this first layer for the

corer to get past the root systems. As was previously stated, the top layer of SC had

eroded thus leaving only a brief record of Christianized Youghal at MC. Zone VII, with









its associated decline of tree pollen, is a significant indicator of a major event that is

revealed in the next few pages.

The General observations regarding the palynological results are inserted within the

rest of the paper. The study of the yew in Youghal takes an archival/historical turn after a

brief comment about yew pollen.

Comment

It should be mentioned that the numbers of yew pollen found in the core

subsamples are low in comparison to other pollen types. For example, the number of

grains above and below the absence of yew during Zone V (at 28 cm at the strand) are

only 1 and 2 pollen grains. The previously mentioned female bias of the species could

mean that the yew was present though in small numbers (this could account for the few

cases of absence in both pollen diagrams). Though pollen production is high in yew, the

poor preservation of the grain over time as well as a possible lack of endurance through

pollen concentration methods could result in an underestimation of the occurrence of this

species in palynological analyses.

The Yew in Youghal's History Archeological and Archival Evidence

Eochaill and its yews to 830 A.D.

A.F. O'Brien, an east Cork historian, states "the origins of Youghal are obscure"

(1986). "As can be seen from microliths from Blackwater River area, man was present in

Co. Cork by 6,000 BC" (Woodman 1984). Archaeological evidence tells us that the Celts

were prevalent in the area in the first millennium A.D. A quick look at the current OS

maps reveals over 60 ring-forts, a common element of the 1st millennium A.D. landscape,

within 15 km of Youghal. Hayman (1879) reported finding an ogham stone by a priory in

town. A similar stone was found that had been used as a building stone of St. Declan's









Oratory, Ardmore. We know by palynological evidence that yew survived into the first

half of the 1st millennium A.D. We know by the clues left on the landscape that the Celts

were prevalent during the same time.

The coming of Christianity is also known as the 'end of prehistory' in Ireland.

Christianity began to take hold in the area by 461 A.D. when St. Declan is said to have

built his seminary in Ardmore. In 501 A.D. St. Molanfide established an abbey at

Molana, north of the town on the Blackwater River, and in 575 A.D. St. Coran

established a monastery at Shanavine just west of Youghal town. In 680 A.D. a Saxon

church was established in Youghal town. The establishment of numerous ecclesiastical

sites hints at a significant population. It is likely that the initial presence of Christianity

did not result in substantial upheavals of Celtic culture. The clans were fighting each

other and were probably far more worried about hostile invasions of their land. The

Norsemen, or Vikings, were in the region by the 8th century A.D. They plundered

Lismore, to the north of Youghal, in 812 A.D. There is suspicion of a pre 9th century

Norse settlement at Youghal but there is no record of their plundering the Christian sites

there making this an unlikely scenario as Youghal was ecclesiastically connected with

Lismore.

There are numerous entries in the various Annals of Ireland that reveal events in the

area. There is one invaluable entry that describes a major transformation of the landscape.

It is an entry in the Annals of Ulster (AU) for 830 A.D. This entry tells us that the

Blackwater River, known historically as the Avonmore, changed course from Ardmore

and submerged the valley of Youghal. Whiting bay, about 5 km east of Youghal, is still

locally known as Beul-Amhain meaning mouth of the river. "Ireland is subject to









prodigious and durable rains which drown the land" (Dineley 1681). Condon (1945)

states:

From the earliest times the lower harbour of Youghal and the western side of
Youghal bay were under dense forest... as a result of various land oscillations these
coastal forests were submerged and the harbour of Youghal formed. (p 117)

This event could explain Zone VII in the marsh core where most tree taxa suddenly

disappear. The more northerly location of the valley (the marsh core site) always had

lower values of tree pollen and perhaps a great percentage of it was from a prehistoric

forest to the southeast (the strand). There was no lithological evidence of a flood event in

the top root layer of the marsh core that was dug away, indicating that the flood may not

have reached this more elevated section of the valley.

Of course, the spatially limited palynological data gives us no clue as to the extent

of the flood but the sudden disappearance of the tree taxa suggests a significant depletion

of woodland. The lower areas of the valley, to the southeast of the current strand, would

obviously be the first to flood creating a new bay. The parsimonious answer is that the

advanced shoreline created a saline environment that was not amenable to the resident

species (that prehistorically formed around a freshwater environment). But how is it

possible that there is wood left to be found on the strand today, when we know that

humans were prevalent in the area during this event? Gibson, in 1861, commented that

bogwood "is often raised" from the peat beneath the sand. The two pieces of fossilized

wood were dated c. 2870 BP (920 B.C.) and c. 2450 BP (500 B.C.), a thousand years

before the course of the river changed. Via pollen analysis we know that the forest lived

well past the entrance of the 1st millennium A.D. Perhaps the wood of the forest on the

surface, that died off as a result of the flood, was utilized by humans and that erosion has

revealed successive layers of the ancient forest floor.









The AU entry was also explored by a 19th century author who put a slightly

different touch on the story. His description is quite poignant and is worth quoting at

length:

The 9th century of the Christian era opened with extraordinary disturbances of
nature. Earthquakes and tempests, accompanied by terrible thunderings and
lightenings, appalled Europe. The sea made ravages in innumerable places. It
carried away a great part of Heligoland, and changed the coasts of Brittany. Even
the lagunes of Venice felt the commotion; and the isles of Ammiano and
Costanziaco disappeared. Our native historians record the calamities that
simultaneously befel Ireland's shores... [he then refers to the AU entry] Under the
influence of this tempest, the Blackwater piercing its southern confining bank of
shingle, rushed to meet the ocean through the low-lying valley of Eo-chaille. Its
rapid torrent excavated the swampy ground of Moin-na-traigh, straightway
converting it into an arm of the foaming sea (now Youghal harbour). The great
forest on the moor beyond (the bay and long strand) was, in a moment, submerged.
Such of the trees as were uprooted, floated up and were swept out to sea; but many
retained their hold, were prostrated and buried in sand, still clinging by the roots to
their native bed. (Hayman 1860 p37)

The discussion of the yews of Youghal could certainly end at this point, but several

nearby populations of yew live today and reverence for the tree was evident in the town

in the 19th century. These facts require the study to continue past the tremendous flood

event that occurred in the year 830 A.D.

The latter 9th century to the Norman invasion

I had previously wondered why the first Christian establishment in the area was at

Ardmore. It seemed a better location would have been at Youghal where there was access

to the interior via the River Blackwater. The archival evidence regarding the change in

the position of the mouth of the river suggests an answer. Ardmore was closer to the

historical mouth of the river. Just after the date of this dramatic landscape change the

historical archives suddenly begin to more commonly mention a place called Eochaill

(now conveniently located at the mouth of the River Blackwater).









It didn't take long for the new harbor to be utilized. The AFM mentions a victory in

864 A.D. over a Danish fleet and fortress at Youghal by the Deisi, a tribe that was

conquering lands in the area as early as the 5th century. Perhaps the Deisi retained the

area after conquering the Norsemen, or lived coherently with the Christian missionaries,

as in 872 A.D. they themselves were plundered 'as far as the Youghal pass' by another

tribe, the Cearbhall. Problems between these tribes led the Deisi to settle in Demetia (now

Pembrokeshire, Wales).

Christianity took a firmer hold in the latter 10th century as the round tower at

Ardmore was built in 960 A.D. In 1020 A.D. St. Mary's Norman Church was built in

Youghal around the foundations of its smaller Saxon predecessor. The 12th century

marked the ascendancy of the Mac Carthaigh clan in the region. Jefferies (1985) believes

this ascendancy was aided by local Norsemen. In 1173 A.D. Lismore was again

plundered, this time by the Anglo-Norman troops of Richard de Clare (Strongbow).

Diarmaid Mac Carthaigh sent a fleet, with a Norse leader, to intercept their ships off the

coast of Youghal. Jefferies (1985) and Field (1896) describe how the Irish fought with

stones and axes and the Normans fought superiorly with arrows.

The 12-15th centuries

Diarmaid was the last Gaelic chieftain in east Cork. He was taken prisoner in 1211

(O'Brien 1982). This date marked the beginning of enduring Norman rule in the area. In

1177 King Henry II gave the region to Miles de Cogan and Robert Fitz Stephen who then

began the process of subinfeudation. Fitz Stephen granted land in Ui Meic Caille

(Imokilly) to Alexander Fitz Gerald who passed it on to his brother Gerald who then

passed it on to his son Maurice. It is this Maurice Fitz Gerald, obtaining his land in 1215,

who is often considered the 'founder' of Youghal. "In 1202 the town received a Royal









Charter, and in 1275 obtained a further charter from Edward I permitting them to levy

customs for a period of seven years for the purpose of enclosing the town with stone

walls and defences" (Healy 1988). The architecture of the wall indicates bows were being

used at the time of construction. The Anglo-Normans were considered intruders and thus

needed protection against the rebellious Irish. The walls were definitely built for an

archer's defense as there is evidence of a "chemin de ronde" or broad archer's walk, later

raised for musketeer defense (Buckley 1900). The longbow was the weapon of choice at

this point, and dominated as such until the middle of the 16th century

(historicalweapons.com). Thus the yew takes its place on the local landscape once again,

as a tool of war.

The 'Geraldine' proprietors commenced colonizing the town with citizens from

Bristol, England. The house of the Fitz Gerald's of Desmond (South Munster inclusive of

counties Cork, Kerry, and west Waterford) ruled the area from 1220-1600. The 13th

century brought rapid development to Youghal making it a major Irish seaport and center

of trade. In 1224 the Franciscan South Abbey was established in Youghal town and by

1268 the Dominican North Abbey was also established. To illustrate Youghal's

importance, in the 13th century London was c. 1 square mile in size where Youghal was

34 of a square mile (Sheila Loughnan, Chamber of Commerce Historian, Youghal, Co.

Cork, personal communication, September 5th, 2001).

King Edward I rallied ships from Ireland in 1301 to aid in his Scottish expedition.

Youghal was the only port required to send 3 ships proving its rank as a flourishing town.

There were hard times during the 14th century. Youghal's Annals (Field 1896) talk of

constant rains and the high price of wheat. The first Earl of Desmond, Maurice Fitz









Thomas, ended up in a heated debate with the crown about land title ending up in

rebellion and the ultimate fragmentation of the Anglo-Irish lordship system. Anti-crown

rebels besieged the town and the Black Death struck the population.

The Anglo-Normans did not control all of Ireland at this time, nor did they ever.

There were constant wars between the foreigners and the Irish and it is unlikely that Irish

customs were wiped out any farther than an arrow's flight from Anglo-Norman towns.

Irish customs might even have been strengthened by the increased threat of these

foreigners to their culture. It is also unlikely that the Normans ventured into the possibly

hostile Irish woodlands to obtain wood for their longbows. Nearby yew populations may

thus have been safe from decimation at this point and the amount of suitable habitat in the

area (limestone valleys) probably supported some. The Medieval Warm Period was at

hand and, in general, the yew woods of Ireland were still flourishing as Giraldus

Cambrensis and palynological evidence has previously implied.

The 1400s were quiet in comparison to the preceding centuries but the 15th century

witnessed "a synthesis of Gaelic and colonial traditions" and prosperous local economic

expansion (O'Brien 1986). The only piece of encountered history significant to

understanding the local landscape is one that refers to iron. The King (Henry IV; 1399-

1413) granted a license to purchase, and import to Youghal, 30 cargoes of iron from the

counties of Dublin, Meath, and Louth (Field 1896). This implies that ironworks were not

employed close to Youghal. As we will see, this did not last for long. The quiet nature of

the 15th century was probably due to England's preoccupation with more important

affairs, such as Henry V's campaign at Agincourt. England's incessant use of the

longbow must have reduced many a yew population in Europe and it wasn't much more









than a hundred years later that the Throne's needs would be partially fulfilled by the

resources of Ireland.

16th century Youghal

In 1541 Henry VIII claimed Ireland as an English kingdom and the plantation

period began. The 16th century saw the crown insisting on the allegiance of Old English

seaport towns in order to stand up to the Gaelic interior. These towns were needed as

vantage points for the crown to hold on to control. At this point towns were given a

certain amount of autonomy for loyalty. The "revival of the port towns such as Youghal

was an essential element in the political and economic history of Ireland in the late 15th

and 16th centuries" (O'Brien 1986).

Thus Youghal became a very important trade center. The town was tied with

Bristol, many of its citizens being planted there by the Fitz Geralds in the 13th century.

Because Bristol was one of the great centers of commercial communication with Ireland,

Youghal thrived. "Indeed the trade of these parts [England] was almost entirely with

Ireland, especially that of Bristol early in the century" (Longfield 1924). Exports poured

out of Waterford, Wexford, and Youghal. These exports included many timber products

such as "oars, oar-blades, hoopstaves, poles, laths, beams, small beams, ingle boards, and

ship planks" (Longfield 1924).

As was previously mentioned, in 1551 Edward VI commanded that the yews in

Ireland be used for bowstaves (Calendar of State Papers 1551). Youghal was again a

bustling port and it is inevitable that this law impinged upon any yews surviving in the

area. Many Irish were probably undergoing incredible hardship and the sale of yew wood

would be profitable. Custom often gives way to survival.









A Unique Find: Evidence of Woodland in Maps For years I thought the only

large-scale maps of pre-Elizabethan Ireland were those that one creates in the mind when

reading historical literature, of which Ireland is lucky to have plenty. Andrews (1985)

referred to a pre-Elizabethan cartographic absence as an "evidential dark age." The

political activity during this time period greatly affected the landscape. After 1583, when

the Earl of Desmond was ousted, the crown confiscated the 'rebels' land in county Cork.

These lands were settled into seignories and the large ploughlands of the Desmond's

became fragmented into smaller units.

It seemed advantageous to study the history of Irish map-making to gather clues

about what was happening in southern Ireland. The plantation regime and its associated

fragmentation brought with it an age of mapmaking in order to secure the new imposed

boundaries. Only a handful of these maps survive. I unexpectedly uncovered two maps of

the area created in 1598 (and the Youghal Town Council was understandably delighted).

The maps are housed in the Dartmouth Collection at the National Maritime Museum in

Greenwich. Two maps within this collection of special interest to a southeast Cork

historian are one centered on Inchiquin, a few kilometers west of Youghal, and the other

centered on Kilwatermoy, a few kilometers north of Youghal. The maps show the towns,

waterways, and woodlands of two areas of Walter Raleigh's estate. They may be the only

remaining cartographic representation of woodlands in the area.

A narrative on the Inchiquin map says: "The description of the castle and landes of

Inshequin lying within 3 miles of Yohall on the west side therof; being a very good soyle

for pasture..." The map is not easy to interpret but the waterways show some

resemblance to those of today enabling the approximate location of these historic









woodlands. A narrow strip of woodland lines a stream to the north of Clonard, which

would be in today's Ballyvergan Marsh. The other main woodland on this map is in what

appears to be the area now known as Finisk along the Womanagh River. The distorted

nature of the map made a reconstruction of this woodland on a modern map enormously

speculative, but the identification of the general area is appropriate enough for this study

(I was not allowed to make reproductions of the maps in this document).

The Kilwatermoy map encompasses a much greater area, over 20 kilometers

diagonally from Templemichael northwest to Shean, both in the present Co. of

Waterford, all to the north of Youghal. Surprisingly enough, some of the areas indicated

as woodland are woodland today (but some are recent pine plantations) though the

majority of the two largest tracts no longer exist. Not much of this area is yew habitat.

Only a few areas along the River Bride, which runs through a Waulsortian Limestone

valley, would possibly have held yew populations.

These maps suggest that the area in the late 16th century was more wooded than it is

today. It probably wasn't long before these woods were cut down as ironworks began to

dot the landscape in the 17th century. These maps could have aided the proprietors in the

location of woodland.

A landscape transformed: The 17th century

Queen Elizabeth is known to be responsible for a major loss of woodland in

Ireland, but in 1621 she forbade the cutting of timber within 14 miles of the sea

(McCracken 1957). This, obviously, would have included any existing woods around

Youghal. This law was most likely written to protect the future needs of her army

because the woodlands were rapidly disappearing. Cunningham et al. (1998) note

extensive woodland clearance at this time in Co. Kerry. An abrupt disappearance of









willow, oak, ash, and alder occurred at c. 1600 A.D. A 1630 entry in the Calendar of

State Papers of Ireland states: "We have built a forge and furnace in the barony of

Muskerry in Cork lying between the two rivers that run into the harbours of cork and

kinsale. We have got the liberty of 20 miles of wood here, the largest wood that has

survived in Ireland."

The 17th century marks a time of massive reduction of Ireland's woods. The Boyle

family ironworks in Co. Cork and Co. Waterford (directly east of Co. Cork) exported

thousands of tons of iron between 1615 and 1640. Boyle had an exclusive contract in

1607 with a Mr. John Whitsone where he provided him with 100-200 tons of iron per

year (Lismore Papers 1883). The Cork Guide states that Boyle used yew to feed his

ironworks (cork-guide.ie/youghal.htm). This is the only time I have heard of yew being

used to fuel ironworks and I have found no literature on its usefulness as such. In fact,

Rector Marley remembers his father telling him that the yew gave off little heat and

burned too slowly (Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, personal communication, January 30th

2002). The Lismore Papers, a published version of Boyle's diary, do not mention

particular types of wood used to fuel his ironworks. Lismore Castle was Boyle property

at the time and I suspect that he had a particular liking for yews. A Monk's Walk was

planted there in the 17th century and plentiful old yews adorn the property today. These

yews were noted in the Topographical Dictionary oflreland in the 19th century (Lewis

1837). The Guide's suggestion could have been formulated simply from the handiness of

the town being named after a yew wood, the fact that there aren't any now, and that

Boyle's presence is associated with deforestation. However, if other wood had been

selectively deforested over thousands of years of Celtic presence, yew woods could have









been some of the wood left in the area. Boyle could have simply preserved the yews on

his property for posterity's sake.

By 1633 there was a "shortage of wood for coal" (Kearney 1953). According to

McCracken (1957) there were 19 charcoal-burning ironworks in Co. Cork during the 17th

and 18th centuries, one actually located in Youghal that opened in 1607. Thomas

Dineley's 17th century drawings of Youghal reveal barren hills behind the town (Shirley

1863). Irelands Naturalle History (Boate 1652) gives us significant clues about the

perception and use of woodland during this time. He describes the "remaining" woods as

a hindrance to cattle by keeping the sun from the land and hence keeping the moisture in.

He explains that it was necessary to "diminish" the woods to "deprive the theeves and

rogues, who used to lurk in the woods in great numbers, of their refuge." He continues:

Whole ship loads [of wood have been] sent into forrein countries yearly which
brought great profit to the proprietaries, so the felling of so many thousands of trees
every year as were employed that way, did make a great destruction of the Woods
in tract of time. As for the Charcoal, it is incredible what quantity thereof is
consumed by one Iron-work in a year... the inhabitants do not only want wood for
firing but even timber for building (p121)

The idea of Ireland's culture changing as a result of the reign of James I was

exemplified in Youghal in July 1644. This date marked the expulsion of the Irish and

Catholic inhabitants of the town (Irwin 1980). Youghal's Irish culture (and perhaps the

region's yews) was at that point removed for the next several hundred years.

Denudation to reforestation: Descriptions of Youghal in the 1700s and 1800s

In 1749 Cooke describes the strand as "delightful" and "four miles in length"

making no reference to any woods in the area (Day 1903). In the later 1770s eastern Cork

was described as exhibiting "a naked, bleak, dreary view for want of wood, which has

been destroyed for a century past with the most thoughtless prodigality, and still









continues to be cut and wasted as if it was not worth the preservation" (Young 1925). A

Frenchman came to Co. Cork in 1790 and noted "a cart loaded with turf for the

ironworks" (Chinneide 1973). Perhaps there were no woods left to fuel them. The diaries

of several visitors support this hypothesis. In 1809 Joseph Woods, an architect and

botanist, described Cork as being "naked" having "a few woody spots about Gentlemens

houses: otherwise, I believe, there is not a tree in the country" (Lyne and Mitchell 1985).

His companion Lewis Dillwyn, another botanist, noted about Youghal that there were

"woods by the side of the road which leads to the sands about a mile from the town"

(Lyne 1986). These "sands" surely refer to the strand. He also noted the Mall area of

Youghal was well planted with trees. There are no trees in either location today.

This noted denudation was recognized by the administration. According to Bill

Power, a local historian, there were "around 16 Acts of Parliament passed by the Irish

House of commons to plant trees beginning in 1721" (Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, personal

communication, January 30th, 2002). These acts enabled tenants to own the rights to trees

they planted. In order to ensure these rights, the tenants had to supply formal testimony

that they had planted these trees. The trees, their owners, and their location were

registered in a county book. The National Archives in Dublin housed 13 of these

registries until a fire destroyed many of them some years ago. Four out of six of Co.

Tipperary's were destroyed (and another has since gone missing) and three out of four of

Co. Waterford's were destroyed. Luckily, all three for Co. Cork survived and were the

subject of Eileen and Donald McCracken's (1976) article A register of trees, Co. Cork,

1790-1860. The original manuscript was inspected in hopes of finding thousands of yew

trees planted in the area. An 1802 entry, very close to the beginning of the manuscript,









announced 2,000 yew trees planted in Monkstown (west of Youghal). This entry sent me

reeling into the rest of the volume to find, after reading seemingly thousands of entries,

that Monkstown was the only entry for yew between 1790 and 1824. The McCrackens

made a good point, saying that sometimes an entry simply said 'conifer' which impeded

more detailed analysis for several species. Only one entry was found for Youghal in the

1824-1834 registry where in 1832 David Walsh planted 1,502 alder and 883 fir. In all,

9.5 million trees were planted in Cork between 1790 and 1860 (McCracken and

McCracken 1976).

The feelings toward yews varied during the 19th century. Windele, a Cork historian,

dedicated 4 pages to the yew, discussing at length the Muckross Abbey yew in Killarney

and the tree's part in the place-names of Ireland (Coleman 1910). Smith (1893) focused

on utilitarian and negative points. He mentioned the beauty of yew furniture and "the

poisonous quality of the yew tree" being "experienced by cattle eating of the branches

some years ago, in the garden of Ballymacoda, (then held by Mr. Maurice Uniack) in this

neighbourhood, after which they suddenly died." The poisonous nature of yew has been

mentioned on several occasions, as was the concept of culture making way for economic

gain. Both of these reflections should be considered in regards to cattle, the economic

staple of the area in the mid 1840s. "In the period 1821-25 national cattle exports

averaged 47,000 head per annum; by 1835 they had more than doubled to 98,000 and

continued to rise rapidly, reaching 202,000 per annum in the years 1846-49" (O'Brien

1975). There would have been no room for poisonous yew trees on the commoner's

landscape. The yew did, however, find its place on the Gentleman's Estates. "Tree









planting was very much in vogue in the early nineteenth century not only among

landlords but among well-off tenants also" (O Murchadha 1986).

Summary of the Local Analysis

The landscape of Youghal was once home to ancient woodland that formed over

5,000 years ago amongst a freshwater ecosystem inland of the Atlantic Ocean. The

populations of woodland taxa, inclusive of yew, fluctuated with time responding to the

intricacies of climate. During the first millennium B.C. the woodlands experienced some

scale of human interference but yew populations in the Youghal area were generally

unaffected. The Celtic adoration of this tree likely guaranteed its survival. Yew was

present in the area almost continuously until the first century A.D. when the information

from the cores ceases. It is plausible that the early historical flood destroyed the yew

woods for which the town was named, the local woodlands being submerged, a brackish

environment created northward into the low lying land. The newly formed harbor town of

Youghal with its navigable River Blackwater was an excellent base for several groups to

exploit the interior. Eventually, Norman intolerance and banishment wiped the Irish

culture from the area. Ironically, the walls of the town have an archer's walk, and the tree

that was natively revered was turned against them in the form of a weapon of war.

Ironworks devastated the remaining woodlands to the point where authors often noted the

paucity of trees. Reforestation came into vogue in the 18th and 19th centuries but it is

difficult to tell how much yew was planted, as the county records are vague in terms of

species. A 19th century Co. Cork historian admiringly talked of the yew's presence in

historical times and the nobility of a particular yew in Co. Kerry. This mention suggests

that there were no other old yews in Co. Cork to write about.