Daily Archives: April 28, 2012

Y-Yew Tree

The yew tree is a coniferous tree native to Europe and Africa. Its height can range from 33 to 90 feet and its girth can be up to thirteen feet.

The reason I include the Yew in the Middle Ages is the fact that it was used extensively for making English long bows.

Yew trees live an exceptionally long time with some believed to be as old as 1,000 – 4,000 years.

Although almost all parts of the Yew are toxic, parts of it have been used in heart remedies since 1024.

Back to the longbows. So many bows were made from Yew trees, that in the fourteenth century the supply of Yew wood in England was so depleted the English had to import wood from other countries. In 1472 any ship entering an English port was required to bring in bowstaves.

In the SCA, we have a song about the Fruit of the Yew which tells of a raid on Wales where the woodsmen drive off the raiders using “The stout longbow staff thowing swift clothyard shafts(arrows)”.

The last line is “Seek not the wealth of the woodlands of Wales, for they pay in the fruit of the Yew.”