5. The Dark Hedges

4. Dalriada School
6th March 2023
6. Drumceatt
6th March 2023

5. The Dark Hedges

5. The Dark Hedges

Project Attributes


Royal Connections


CCGBC Museum Services


6th March 2023

The Dark Hedges is a popular landmark made up of curved beech trees which form intertwined patterns along a country road. Planted by the Stuart family in 1775, the canopy of trees once welcomed visitors to Gracehill House, the family’s Georgian mansion.

They now welcome a multitude of tourists; a result of the location featuring as the ‘Kingsroad’ in the HBO series Game of Thrones. The land at Gracehill had been given by King James I to his cousin, who drowned on his journey to Ireland. The estate was then passed to his grandson, William Stuart, and remained in the family for generations.


The Dark Hedges

by Hannah Shirley

As one of the most famous and picturesque attractions in Northern Ireland, the Dark Hedges is a site filled with mystery. Known colloquially as the ‘Dark Hedges’, Bregagh road is a country road located between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim. The site’s defining point is a canopy of intertwined beech trees, planted by James Stuart in 1775. The trees form a natural tunnel which served to greet (and impress) visitors to the Stuart family’s Georgian estate, Gracehill House. Gracehill was named after James Stuart’s wife, Grace Lynd. Originally, 150 trees were planted by the Stuart family but as of 2019, less than 90 trees remain.

In 2004, the trees were placed under a Tree Preservation Order, to enable preservation and to allow for maintenance to be carried out. The Dark Hedges Preservation Trust, set up in 2009, works to protect the aging trees.   Due to the adverse effects of heavy traffic and the influx of visitors along the road, a ban on traffic was introduced in 2017 to preserve this historic site and protect the world-famous trees.

Photograph of trees at the Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges

The site’s popularity greatly increased because of its appearance on popular HBO series Game of Thrones. It features in season two, episode one: The North Remembers as the ‘Kingsroad’.  The iconic trees make a striking spectacle as character Arya Stark, dressed as a boy, escapes the King’s landing in a cart beside characters Yoren, Gendry, Hot Pie and others. The connection between site and series does not stop there; fallen trees (as a result of Storm Gertrude in 2016) have been collected and transformed into ten Game of Thrones doors. One door is located at Gracehill House and references the Dark Hedges through its depiction of the three-eyed raven and several sigils above a beech leaf and crown.

Photograph of Gracehill House

Gracehill House

Gracehill House itself has its own royal heritage; King James I granted the land to his cousin, James Stuart, who drowned on his journey to Ireland from Italy. The land then passed to his grandson, William Stuart, and remained in the family for generations to come. In recent years, the estate has been transformed into a golf course and a hotel with a restaurant and bar. The Dark Hedges remains a popular, scenic landmark, tied to local legend. Lady Grey (or the Grey Lady) is said to wander through the trees at dusk and disappear once she has passed the last tree. According to some, she is the ghost of a housemaid of the Gracehill estate who died centuries ago, while others believe she is the spirit of the deceased who is buried in an abandoned graveyard close to the site. It also been said that she is Cross Peggy, the daughter of James Stuart, descendant of the original James Stuart. She joins the legion of souls who are reported to roam the Dark Hedges on Halloween night, adding to the haunting beauty of this magnificent location.

Photograph of the Dark Hedges

The Dark Hedges



The Dark Hedges is located on Bregagh Road, between Ballinlea Road and Ballykenver Road. From the A26 turn onto the B147 Kirk Road to Stranocum, continuing for approx. 10km onto Ballinlea Road. Bregagh Road is located on your right.

Please Note: Vehicular access to Bregagh Road is restricted; use the nearby carpark.

Co-ordinates: 55.1349, -6.3815


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This project is receiving financial support via the District Council Good Relations Programme.