Sycamore Gap tree felled: LIVE updates as police hunt for culprits

Sycamore Gap tree felled: LIVE updates as police hunt for culprits

September 28, 2023

Sycamore Gap tree felled: LIVE updates as police hunt for culprits after historic landmark is ‘taken down with chainsaw overnight’

Hikers took picture in front of tree just yesterday

A group of charity trekkers walking Hadrian’s Wall posed in front of the Sycamore Gap just hours before the tree was deliberately felled in what is believed to be an act of vandalism.

The hikers were raising money for Keech Hospice Care based in Luton.

One of the trekkers, Andrea Daniels, said: ‘I can’t believe this has happened to such an iconic and ancient tree. We were only there yesterday, marvelling at its beauty. It was such a privilege to be there, standing beneath Sycamore Gap and being dwarfed by it. It really was a force of nature.

‘Now it’s gone and we can’t understand why anyone would do such a terrible thing.’

Sycamore Gap is renamed 'Sycamore Stump' on Google Maps

The iconic landmark has already been renamed ‘Sycamore Stump’ on Google, as spotted by this social media user:

National Trust is 'shocked and desperately saddened' by tree being felled

The National Trust has now issued a new statement, saying it is ‘shocked and desperately saddened’ by the Sycamore Gap tree being felled:

Photographs reveal shocking scene after Sycamore Gap tree was felled

Photographs show people looking at the tree at Sycamore Gap, next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, which came down overnight after being ‘deliberately felled’:

Nature author 'feels sick' and woodland expert is 'devastated'

Experts have been speaking of their anger after the famous tree at Sycamore Gap was felled.

Landscape and nature author Robert Macfarlane said: ‘I just feel sick. I feel desperately sad about what it says about our wider relationship with trees and with nature in this country. And I feel very angry.’

He told BBC Radio 5 Live the tree was probably about 300 years old.

He said: ‘Just so many memories were stored in that tree and to see that white wood that a chain saw ripped through at some point last night. I just despair really about the state of nature in this country.’

Jack Taylor, from Woodland Trust, told the programme: ‘If it’s been deliberately felled, as reports suggest, it’s totally unforgiveable.”

‘And, I’m really struggling to think of a reason why anybody would do that. Honestly, it would have to be a disturbed individual to do something that sort-of deliberate and heinous.’

Mr Taylor said: ‘We’re completely devastated that this has happened.’

FULL STORY – Heartbreak as famous Sycamore Gap tree is CUT DOWN in 'malicious act of vandalism'

Read MailOnline’s full story here after a world famous tree was chopped down overnight in a ‘malicious act of vandalism’, sparking an outpouring of grief from devastated locals and nature lovers.

The Sycamore Gap, located in Northumberland along the site of Hadrian’s Wall, is perhaps most famous for featuring in the 1991 blockbuster film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.

Click below to read the full story:

Tourist reveals how she woke up to find tree had been felled

A holidaymaker who travelled to visit the iconic Sycamore Gap tree has described her horror at waking up to see that it had been maliciously felled overnight.

Amanda Marks, 59, is currently staying at the Layside guest house, which overlooks the beauty spot, as she researches for the sequel to her novel The True, which features the tree.

Yesterday Ms Marks, of Otley, Suffolk, visited the landmark before retiring for the night – but opened the curtains this morning to find that someone had felled the tree completely.

She said: ‘We saw it about 7.45am and it had been windy so we thought that maybe it was just the top that had blown off.

‘But when we went to have a look we could see that it isn’t natural at all, it is a professional chainsaw job. I can’t even imagine why someone would do that to a living thing.

‘It is such an iconic tree and I don’t use the word iconic lightly, I am a tree warden and adore trees, but for the people who live around here it must feel like losing an old friend, I can’t imagine the loss they must feel. I just can’t get my head around it, it is such a shock.

‘We went to walk by the tree on Monday, and spoke to people of all nationalities who had come to see it.

‘Someone with a camper van that we spoke to this morning was still in the car park at 1am, and said he heard what sounded like a ranger’s vehicle. He didn’t think about it much until we told him about the tree, but chances are that is when it happened.’

The tree that stars couldn't keep away from – and narrowly avoided being damaged in helicopter crash that could have killed Alan Titchmarsh

Known to some as the Robin Hood Tree after its appearance in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film, Sycamore Gap is one of the most photographed trees in the country.

It stands next to Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland and is believed to have been planted in the early 18th Century.

It is said to have once stood alongside others but eventually became the only one left – making it especially photogenic.

In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the hero – played by Costner – is seen pulling leaves from the tree as he walks under it with the warrior Azeem, who is played by Morgan Freeman.

The tree also featured in the music video for American star Bryan Adams’ hit (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, which was the soundtrack for Costner’s Robin Hood film.

In 2003, the tree escaped damage when a helicopter that was filming documentary series British Isles – A Natural History crashed less than 100 feet away.

The four onboard the aircraft were injured, but presenter Alan Titchmarsh, who was standing on the ground, narrowly escaped harm.

Titchmarsh said at the time: ‘I was pretty shaken and I was worried the copter was going to explode. The crew scrambled out and ran like hell.’

An eyewitness added: ‘Alan Titchmarsh was very lucky not to be hit.

‘He was almost underneath the helicopter when it fell but jumped out of the way as it came down.

‘The aircraft landed on its side and everyone, including Alan, ran to help. Everyone was amazed the crew were not seriously hurt.’

Local pub manager mourns 'disaster for the whole area'

Steven Blair, general manager of the Twice Brewed Inn pub close to Sycamore Gap, said the tree felling was a ‘disaster for the whole area’.

He said: ‘Initially we got a message on our local WhatsApp group at 9am saying the Sycamore Gap tree had blown over overnight.

‘We found this quite surprising because the storm wasn’t that bad last night and the wind was coming from the east so just over the top of the tree which is in a dip.

‘Then we saw pictures of the tree which had been sawed off at the base.

‘If it had blown over, the roots would have been ripped up but the stump was clean so it’s been deliberately done. No one knows why, whether someone got drunk and did it or someone had a vendetta against the tree for some reason.

‘Someone has gone up with a large chainsaw, probably at night, to simply cut it down. It’s a disaster for the whole area because lots of businesses use the logo of the tree.

‘Hundreds of thousands of people come to see it each year as well. It’s the most photographed tree in the northern hemisphere.

‘The way it has fallen means it is lying across Hadrian’s Wall which is going to make removing it difficult because it’s a protected area. We just hope we don’t have trophy hunters coming to take bits of it away as some kind of souvenir.’

What has the reaction been to the Sycamore Gap tree being felled?

The news of the Sycamore Gap tree being felled was met with dismay and outrage by walkers’ groups on social media today.

One Facebook user said: ‘I was sat crocheting at the top of the hill earlier this year while my husband and son were climbing up the rock face next to the tree. This is absolutely devastating news. It’s such a magical and magnificent place and tree. I can’t believe someone would deliberately chop this tree down.’

Another wrote on the national park authority’s Facebook page: ‘This is terrible news. I visit the tree regularly with my son. I wonder if a tree sculptor could turn the felled tree into something to remember it in its place.’

Tim Wickens, trustee of the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, said: ‘I’m truly tearful having just seen the images and reporting on the world famous tree at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall apparently being deliberately felled last night.

‘If it transpires this was a deliberate, it really is an outrageous and despicable act of vandalism that will shock people everywhere.

‘It is beyond belief that anyone would consciously seek to destroy such a timeless symbol of the North East’s natural beauty and an icon of the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.

‘I would urge anyone with useful information to contact the police immediately to help them find those responsible for this awful crime.’

What have police said about the Sycamore Gap tree?

A Northumbria Police spokesman said today: ‘A full investigation has been launched after the Sycamore Gap Tree was felled overnight in what officers believe to be a deliberate act of vandalism.

‘A range of enquiries are now ongoing, with the support of partners, as police look to ascertain the full circumstances surrounding the damage and identify those involved.

‘The tree is a world-renowned landmark and the vandalism has caused understandable shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond.’

Superintendent Kevin Waring added: ‘This is an incredibly sad day. The tree was iconic to the North East and enjoyed by so many who live in or who have visited this region.

‘As a force, are fully committed to finding out the full circumstances and we will consider every tactic at our disposal in this investigation.

‘Anyone found to have been responsible for this damage โ€“ which we believe to be a deliberate act of vandalism โ€“ can expect to be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

‘I would ask anyone who saw anything suspicious or knows anything that can assist our investigation to get in touch with us.’

And Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, said: ‘I’m devastated that the famous Sycamore is gone. That tree was ours. It was an iconic North East landmark standing tall in our beautiful Northumberland.

‘I am incandescent that this looks like a deliberate act of vandalism. I’ll be raising this personally today.

‘I know Northumbria Police are at the scene and officers will do their utmost to catch whoever is behind this. Terrible news.’

Who is in charge of the Sycamore Gap tree?

The tree stands in a dramatic dip in Hadrian’s Wall. Sycamore Gap is looked after by both Northumberland National Park and the National Trust.

National Trust general manager Andrew Poad, said: ‘We are deeply shocked at what appears to be, an act of vandalism.

‘The tree has been an important and iconic feature in the landscape for nearly 200 years and means a lot to the local community and to anyone who has visited the site.”

The Northumberland National Park authority said: ‘(We) can confirm that sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down over night. We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled.

‘We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark and will issue more details once they are known.’

The authority is asking the public not to visit the site, near Crag Lough, ‘whilst we work with our partners to identify what has happened and to make the site safe’.

A spokesperson added: ‘Sycamore Gap was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016 in the Woodland Trust’s awards and is much-loved by people from across the world.’

Who raised the alarm that the Sycamore Gap had been felled?

Alison Hawkins, who lives in Liverpool, was one of the first people on the scene this morning, posting a picture on Facebook of the felled tree with the caption: ‘An awful moment for all walking Hadrians wall the Sycamore Gap tree has gone! Not the storm an absolute ******* felled it!!’

Ms Hawkins, who was on her fourth day of walking Hadrian’s Wall, said she was ‘tearful’ when she discovered the tree had been cut down.

She told the PA news agency: ‘At first we thought it was because of the storm but then we saw a national park ranger. He said it had been cut down and there was paint around the cut section, so it was a professional who knew where they were going to cut.’

‘It was a proper shock. It’s basically the iconic picture that everyone wants to see. You can forgive nature doing it but you can’t forgive that. We’ve carried on the walk but news is spreading so we’ve passed quite a few people asking us if it’s true.’

Welcome to MailOnline's liveblog

Good afternoon and welcome to MailOnline’s liveblog after one of the UK’s most photographed trees was ‘deliberately felled’ in an apparent act of vandalism.

The famous tree at Sycamore Gap, next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, was made famous in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

The National Trust says it is ‘shocked and saddened’ to confirm that the ‘iconic’ tree had been cut down overnight after pictures emerged this morning of it lying on its side by the wall. Northumbria Police are now investigating.

Follow our liveblog throughout today for updates.


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