Under the Ankerwycke Yew.

This year is the eight hundredth anniversary of the Magna Carta on the 15th of June, 1215, between King John and the English nobles. It was signed under the Ankerwycke yew tree, less than a quarter of a mile from where I am boat sitting for my friends Tara and James at Wraysbury on the River Thames.

The Yew tree where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.

The Yew tree where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.

Most people think that the Magna Carta was signed on the Runnymede side of the river just to the north of Egham, but alas no; it is near the lesser often visited village of Wraysbury on the opposite bank. I have to confess to the same ignorance until my friend James corrected this erroneous knowledge.

It has been a pleasant sojourn living afloat again on a boat albeit on a river, and February has been a forgiving month, as this area last year was flooded in almost biblical proportions. Tara and James, and their neighbours, struggled in very difficult conditions to live life as normally as possible, despite there being an almost undefined river bank. Not so this time.

'Sit awhile with me.' Contemplating the nature of democracy.

‘Sit awhile with me.’ Contemplating the nature of democracy.

I took an opportunity to visit the aforementioned symbol of the apparent beginnings of British Democracy and the subsequent wrestling away of absolute power from the Monarchy. Well, from the divinely rich to the fabulously rich.

A lovely, crisp sunny day, a tramp across a few muddy fields, plus enquiries to some locals as to where the tree actually was, finally brought me within sight of one of the most important events in British History, an ancient, magnificently convoluted yew  tree, twisting and turning into the Surrey sky.   I was unprepared for the impact of the discovery and surprisingly emotional, considering my own ancestors weren’t English and two hundred years earlier, probably ransacking the British coast way to the north! However, the sense of history is powerful and the pastoral atmosphere almost faery-like in its ambience; a refreshingly uncultivated meadow and glade, littered with snowdrops.

The faery realm...

The faery realm…

It would not have surprised me if Herne the Hunter himself, that ancient Celtic horned God of the forest, had joined me to quietly contemplate the sheer, sylvan bliss of his realm. He may have reminded me to tread carefully, for this land is sacred.

Rather than the beginning of a political story, I felt at that moment it may have been the end of another, more esoteric one; a final parting of the ways between the ancient faery realm and the oncoming modern era of pragmatic, atheism and institutionalised religion. The question came to me then:

How much democracy do we actually have? Are we really better off now, or have King John and his Barons, been replaced by the new royalty, the Corporations? Will we ever have a true, relevant democracy where every vote actually counts, or shall we as a people, labour for eternity to provide huge profits for the very few, while we struggle to get by, in dumb acceptance?  

A heathen enchantent.

A heathen enchantment.

As the sun began its descent, casting dappled light through the branches of the old Yew, I laid my cheek against its ancient, but beautifully smooth bark and felt the love. Moments like these are fortunately frequent in this old heathen’s life…

And for that I am truly grateful.


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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18 Responses to Under the Ankerwycke Yew.

  1. An amazing tree! Just how long do they live???? I thought 400 years was pretty old….

  2. Maggie97520 says:

    Wow! I was just thinking about you this morning. I woke up singing “Walk on” and it was as if you were in the house with me and we were planning the trek for the day. Love your posts from the wilds of Europe 🙂 How are you doing? Any camino-like walks coming up for you soon?


    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Maggie! Long time no hear, so it’s a real surprise and pleasure to receive your message! Glad you’re still following my crazy old life! I think of you often and wonder what you’re up to these days post Camino(s). Nothing planned as such in the walking department, but I’m back to Sweden in April to drag my old boat back into the water and head to the east and the Baltic States. So, my friend “When you walk through the storm… hold your head up high….” And remember… “You’ll never walk alone.”

  3. acona asbl acona asbl says:

    merci nice guapa abrazos👄

    Costenoble Ch

    ACONA asbl

    Association pour la conservation de la nature en amazonie

    11,Rue de l’ Escadron

    1040 Bruxelles



    Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:36:41 +0000
    To: a_c_o_n_a@hotmail.com

  4. Rose says:

    I like the idea that there was a time when nature was still considered to be a noble and sacred place for signing important treatises. The yew tree is a grand old lady and I love the photos of the two of you. You look like a young elf in one of them! I have my tree group of old oaks here on a hill and I go there for peace, gratitude and power and on occasion for greeting the early morning sun (only in summer…). You’ll meet them soon!

    • Viking Queen says:

      I can’t wait to meet them, Rose. I’m so excited! Yes, nature permeates my whole life in every way. Moon, sun, stars, climate… All in delicate balance.

  5. mike says:

    I wonder how much we were taught in school was a lot of bollocks ? very poetic , nice pics Poppy

  6. Carole Walker says:


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