Iconic Sycamore Gap Tree Near Hadrian’s Wall Was Discovered Cut Down

Sycamore Gap Tree Prior to Being Cut Down

The Sycamore Gap Tree in Northumberland prior to being cut down. (Photo: Veneratio/Depositphotos)

When we think of iconic landmarks, manmade structures are usually the first ones that come to mind. However, natural wonders like Mount Fuji in Japan and the Grand Canyon in the United States are so well known that they are also symbolic of their countries. In the UK, the Sycamore Gap Tree—named after its position between two hills—was one such landmark. After decorating the Northumberland countryside for hundreds of years, growing just beside the remnants of Hadrian's Wall, it was discovered purposefully felled. The news has rocked the nation.

“We are shocked and desperately saddened to learn that the famous Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian's Wall has been felled overnight, in what appears to be an act of vandalism,” the National Trust writes. “We know just how much this iconic tree is loved locally, nationally, and by everyone who has visited. We are working with our partners to understand what has happened and what can be done.” The Sycamore Gap Tree is estimated to be about 300 years old, and has appeared in films like the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In 2016, it was voted English tree of the year in the Woodland Trust competition and has attracted visitors from across the world who come to admire its beauty, including numerous photographers.

Upon finding the tree cut down, the Northumbria Police were immediately notified. Locals of the area expressed deep sadness upon hearing the news. “People have had their ashes scattered there. people have proposed there,” said North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll. “I've picnicked there with my wife and kids. It's part of our collective soul.” Images taken at the scene show the once pristine tree cut in two. The trunk remained on one side of Hadrian's wall, while the rest was toppled onto the other side.

Since the Sycamore Gap Tree was discovered felled on September 28, there have been swift developments in finding the person who committed the act. A 16-year-old boy was arrested on the same day but was later released on bail. On September 29, a man in his 60s was arrested by Northumbria police and is currently under investigation. “The senseless destruction of what is undoubtedly a world-renowned landmark—and a local treasure—has quite rightly resulted in an outpouring of shock, horror, and anger throughout the northeast and further afield,” said detective chief inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies. The area around the Sycamore Gap Tree is closed off to the public as forensics examine and photograph the scene.

While it may be some time before the public receives an answer to who cut down the tree and for what reason, the National Trust was able to confirm that the trunk of the Sycamore Gap Tree was healthy. This provides a small ray of hope that eventually, professionals might be able to regrow the tree through coppicing, in which new shoots grow from the stump. However, even though this is a potential next step for the park services, they emphasized that it would take hundreds of years for a new tree to resemble the one that was lost.

The iconic Sycamore Gap Tree, which borders the Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland in the UK was discovered felled.

Sycamore Gap Tree Prior to Being Cut Down

The Sycamore Gap Tree in Northumberland prior to being cut down. (Photo: grahamspics/Depositphotos)

The tree is believed to have been intentionally cut down with a chainsaw after adorning the landscape for 300 years.

A 16-year-old suspect was brought into custody on September 28, but was later released on bail.

On September 29, a man in his 60s was arrested in connection to the crime.

For now, it is still unclear who committed this act and why it was done.

Sycamore Gap Tree Prior to Being Cut Down

The Sycamore Gap Tree in Northumberland prior to being cut down. (Photo: chrisdorney/Depositphotos)

h/t: [The Guardian, LAD Bible]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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