True Service Tree, Sorbus domestica

   In the original Latin of Nennius is
"iuxta flumen quod uocatur guoy, poma inueniuntur super fraxinum in procliuo saltus qui est prope ostio fluminis."
"Next to the river that is called Wye, apples are found on an ash tree in the slope of the forest near the mouth of the river."
   The True Service Tree, Sorbus domestica, has leaves like an ash and edible fruit like small apples. It grows quite widely in Europe including Brittany and there was once an ancient specimen in the Wyre Forest, Worcestershire of unknown origin.
   In 1983, several examples were found growing on very sheer cliffs in South Glamorgan, some over 400 years old. Others have been found near the Severn in Gloucestershire. These were thought to be native British trees but DNA analysis appears to indicate that this is unlikely. Thus, we are probably looking at ancient introductions. Though the tree was grown in British gardens to some extent from the 17th century, it does look as though these populations in south Wales and Gloucestershire are from much older stock and may well have been brought in by the Romans.
   Nearly all members of the genus Sorbus have ancient magical and sacred associations and it is particularly intriguing that archaeologists Richmond and Crawford, believed that a grove called 'Nemetambala' mentioned in the 'anonymous Ravenna text' was situated overlooking the mouth of the river Wye where Nennius said the apple-bearing ash grew. Nemetons were sacred Celtic groves. Patrick Roper points out that the only explanations for '- ambala' is either a scribal error for '-abala' (apples) or from the Greek 'amabala' meaning a shield boss, omphalos, or centre of the Earth. Bearing in mind the linguistic and legendary connections between Avalon and apples, is this an example of a sacred apple grove?