Dark Hedges

Known as Dark Hedges, Bregagh Road in Armoy, County Antrim saw the felling of at least six of the ancient beeches deemed a public safety risk.

Game of Thrones trees avenue at Dark Hedges in Ireland
Photo by Jared Berg on Unsplash

The spellbinding avenue of ancient beech trees was originally planted around 1775 by the Stuart family. The family planted 150 trees as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House. James Stuart named the house after his wife, Grace Lynd.

A tree preservation order was placed on the trees in 2004 for preservation and maintenance, as well as the establishment of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust in 2009. In 2014 the ninety-four remaining trees were surveyed which revealed that the trees range in age from mature to post mature which is estimated to be about 300 to 350 years. The life span of a typical beech tree is around 150-200 years. A whole avenue of ancient beech trees, at full maturity is a a rare sight to see.

The avenue was used as a filming location in HBO’s series Game of Thrones® which has led it to become a popular tourist attraction and one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. The added traffic posed concerns for possible damage and degradation to the site, especially as beech trees are surface rooting. A travel ban was subsequently imposed in 2017.

In 2023, a survey found that 11 of the remaining 86 trees were in a poor condition and could pose a danger to the public, and 6 of them were to be felled. The department of infrastructure, who are monitoring the work, (which began on the 20th of November) will continue to engage with the landowners regarding the implementation of a management strategy to protect the future of the remaining 75 trees.