Everything we know about the felled Sycamore Gap tree

Who cut it down and can the Sycamore Gap tree be saved?

Those are the questions still at the forefront of the minds of tree lovers everywhere from Northumberland to Newquay some four days after the iconic maple was chopped down.

Distraught celebrities and politicians were among those to express their outrage at the felling of the “iconic” tree, described by police as a “deliberate act of vandalism”.

Here’s everything we know so far as officers continue to hunt for the culprit.

Why is the tree so significant?

The tree, believed to have been one of the most photographed in the country, used to sit in a gap along Hadrian’s Wall - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - in rural Northumberland and was a popular hotspot for tourists, walkers and others.

It is believed to have dated back to medieval times and has been excavated on two occasions - between 1908  and 1911 and again between 1982 and 1987, when Roman remains linked to Hadrian’s Wall were found.

The sycamore perhaps first became known around the globe after featuring in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman.

A man has been arrested over the felling of the famous tree (PA) (PA Wire)
A man has been arrested over the felling of the famous tree (PA) (PA Wire)

When was it cut down?

Reports first emerged that the tree had been felled overnight on 27 September, with Northumberland police vowing to bring those responsible to justice.

The National Trust, which manages the land where the tree stood, said it was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the news.

It subsequently closed the site where the tree was located.

Who did it?

Police arrested a man aged in his 60s on Friday on suspicion of criminal damage but he has since been released, pending further inquiries.

A relative posted a picture of the retired lumberjack at home with his grandson as they denied his involvement in the felling.

A boy, 16, who was also arrested on suspicion of criminal damage on Thursday, was later released on bail.

On Sunday reports said officers seized a chainsaw near the site where the tree was cut down.

A chainsaw is seized in hunt for culprit (North News & Pictures Ltd)
A chainsaw is seized in hunt for culprit (North News & Pictures Ltd)

Can the tree be regrown or will it have to be replaced?

Andrew Poad of the National Trust pointed to the health of the three as one reason to believe it could be regrown.

“It’s a very healthy tree, we can see that now because of the condition of the stump,” he told BBC.

“It may well regrow a coppice from the stump. And if we could nurture that, then that might be one of the best outcomes, and then we keep the tree.”

But any effort to regrow the tree is likely to take hundreds of years, according to Mark Feather, UK estate manager for conservation charity, the Woodland Trust.

He told of his upset and warned that while it took minutes to cut the tree down it could take “literally centuries to grow back”.

He added that even though there is a “chance” of regrowth, this is not guaranteed, especially because of the great age and size of the tree. “Hopefully it will,” he said. “But this is not a given certainty. Time will tell.”

Then, if the Sycamore Gap tree does succeed in resprouting, he said it is “unlikely” it would return to its former statuesque shape, and would instead probably become a “bushy tree with multiple stems at the base”.

Tree lovers pay tribute

A woman who wrote a poem was among those to have paid tribute to the tree, describing it as a “sentinel of time”.

Laura Charlton, says she wrote the poem, an Ode to a Sycamore Tree, to try to capture the “recklessness of the actions and the sense of bereavement the locals are feeling.”

“The birds sing their morning song/Wind dances through the leaves/Almost just as it once was/Yet Northumberland is bereaved,” it read.

Residents across the UK - not just in Northumberland - have been expressing their anger at the felling of the three.

Stephen Gallen, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, said it was “horrifying that someone could destroy something as beautiful as the tree on Hadrian’s wall”.

He also shared a picture of a stunning sycamore tree in his hometown (below).

 (Stephen Gallen)
(Stephen Gallen)

Fundraisers set up

Fundraising efforts are set up by well-wishers who want to see the area where the tree stood rejuvenated.

Some locals had complained that the area around Hadrian’s Wall had been overfarmed, with sheep often roaming the fields where it stands.

One fundraiser, which planned to give funds to the National Trust, had raised nearly £5,000 as of Monday afternoon.