Welcome to the vale...

Moelbryn is the ancient celtic name for the Malvern Hills, a dramatic ridge of volcanic rock that spans the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and dominates the surrounding countryside. Towards the south of the Malverns lies the Eastnor Vale, a picturesque valley amongst the woods and ridges of which lies the village of Eastnor.

This weblog focuses on the stories, folklore and history of the area - the hills, buildings, woods and ruins, tales of faerie folk, witches, druids and giants.

Please leave a comment if you have found this blog useful or have enjoyed reading.

Peace x

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Pagan Oak (The Magic Oak)

The existence of the Pagan oak, as well as its supposed location is the subject of much debate and uncertainty. It is quite possible that the ancient oak tree has only in more recent years become one of legend. There is however, without a doubt, an ancient oak tree situated in farmland on the lower western slopes of Ragged Stone Hill, between the hamlets of Hollybush and White Leaved Oak. The gnarled old oak must have a diameter of around 2 meters [edit 30/09/2012 - That was a massive under-estimation. The girth given on ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk is 7m 70cm! http://www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/recording/tree.htm?tree=f14b60ec-cc95-4a8f-883c-7c45e9da386f], and grows remarkably atop a large flat rock on the north ridge of a sizeable, deep hollow in the ground. To the north east of the hollow is an entrance passage that one could reasonably assume is man made, and two other younger oaks grow on the south eastern and south western corners to form a triangle.

The Oak in Spring
It is said that the Oak marks the very centre point of a geometric formation of leylines that can be plotted across the west of the country, the outer points of which include locations such as Stonehenge and Glastonbury Abbey (See 'Circle of Perpetual Choirs' for more info). Regardless of the trees’ authenticity, it is clearly considered an important spiritual place to many even in recent times. There is a well used hearth where fires are burnt late into the night (until very recently there were two hearths but these have wisely been consolidated to create one larger fireplace) and at the solstices gifts are left hanging from the sacred oaks sturdy branches. At the summer solstice the oak was left strewn with blossoms and flowers and decked with brightly coloured ribbons, feathers, pentagrams and other trinkets and crafts. Until recently there was even a makeshift ‘visitors book’ left in a sheltered hollow in the trees’ trunk that was rapidly filled with signatures, poems and blessings, but this has since become damaged and been removed. The trunk and many branches of the tree have become hollowed with age, and it is now possible to climb down inside the trunk of the oak and stand on the rock upon which it grows (I'd suggest removing footwear if you plan to climb the tree so you can grip better and not add to the tree damage that sheep, deer and nature can incur). The inside of the tree is also lined with trinkets, gemstones and jewels left as gifts for the Oak King.

The Oak in Autumn
There is rumour that the original tree was in fact not at the location of the current tree at all but some distance away nearer the hamlet of White Leaved Oak. The story goes that it was blown down in a storm many years ago and residents planted a new oak in its place. It was said that this “original” tree did in fact have white leaves, thus lending its name to the neighbouring hamlet. A local resident living in White Leaved Oak claims that the story of the leaves is untrue, and that the name in fact originates from a disease of oak trees which causes their leaves to turn white; a disease which I have since seen for myself on a local oak. However, the same resident also claimed the tree currently worshiped is not in fact the correct location or tree. Regardless of the trees authenticity it is without a doubt a remarkable and beautiful tree, and it is quite possibly the Malvern Hills themselves that mark the centre of the mysterious leylines across the country. The tree and its surroundings are a very tranquil and special place and it must surely be the devotion and worship of the people who go there that defines the location, and not its exact geography to within hundreds of metres.


geoff said...

What are the exact coordinates, please

Anonymous said...

Put it back on!!!!!!!!!!!!

Who the hell this so called coven think they are!

member from uk pagan

Liz said...

Thanks for a beautiful description of this wondeful old oak and great photo!
Just one point....it is leylines not laylines, that jars for an old pedant like me!!!

Herefordshire Plumbing said...

Beautifully written descriptions, the photographs of the Oak are truly beautiful.

Anonymous said...

The approximate co ordinates for this tree are:

52° 1'26.36"N

Put these into Google earth and you will see where it is :-)

Mr Goatse said...

The co ords for the sacred oak are:

52° 1'26.36"N

Enjoy :-)