A HISTORIC Herefordshire oak has been left damaged, sparking calls for action to be taken before the tree is lost forever.

The Great Oak of Eardisley has stood by the lane named after it for at least 800 years, but after it recently lost a bough local people have become concerned over the future of the tree.

Although it has been pruned multiple times during its long life, the great oak has been largely undisturbed for half a century. In August last year, however, a large bough broke away and fell into the lane, with another bough being lost only a few weeks ago.


A spokesperson for the Arboricultural Association said that the tree is still essentially healthy but there is a danger that further damage might occur due to the weight of the branches and the relative fragility of the oak’s main structure. Any remedial work would have to be carried out with caution, as over-harsh pruning would set the tree into decline but, equally, if the oak is not treated then the results may be catastrophic.

The spokesperson added that after consultations were made among several tree experts with wide experience of tree management, it has been decided that some careful reduction of the side branches should be carried out, along with the cutting back of the heavy topmost bough.

The intention is to significantly reduce the forces acting on the hollow structure whilst retaining enough of the crown to assure the tree’s continued health and vitality, they added.

"Ancient trees like the Eardisley Oak confer a sense of identity and cohesion on a place and a people," the spokesperson said.

"This great tree has stood for nearly a thousand years. It is now proposed to work on it for just a fleeting moment in its life in order that it might continue to confer all of its ecological and social benefits, not the least of which is the simple sense of wonder at its long, long history."