NORTHUMBRIA Police say they have arrested two men in their thirties in connection with the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall.
The 300-year-old sycamore was mysteriously cut down overnight on September 27, triggering an outpouring of emotion among the general public.
Within days of the vandalism, a 16-year-old boy was arrested and bailed, followed shortly after by a 60-year-old’s arrest. Both were released without charge.
“As a force, we have seen many touching tributes from those who have detailed what this iconic landmark meant for them personally and for our region.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to identify anyone responsible and bring them into police custody and we are committed to getting justice.
Det Ch Insp Fenney-Menzies added: “As always, we would continue to encourage any members of the public with information which may assist to get in touch – if you’ve seen or heard anything suspicious, we’d like to know.
“I’d also like to remind the public that this remains a live investigation so, for that reason, please avoid any speculation both in the community and on social media.
“Any information – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – could prove absolutely crucial to our enquiries.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of the Northumbria Police website or by calling 101 quoting log NP-20230928-0295.
The story of the Sycamore Gap tree
The tree, framed in countless photographs in a dramatic dip along the route of Hadrian’s Wall, had been a long-standing and iconic image of Northumbria.
It is widely believed to have been planted by philanthropist and amateur archaeologist John Clayton of Newcastle.
Clayton is often credited as being the saviour of Hadrian’s Wall, having spent a lifetime – and no small portion of his considerable fortune – buying up land that straddled the ancient monument in order to preserve it.
Over four decades he purchased any stretch of land he possibly could that was associated with the wall. He put in place laws to prevent the stone from the 2,000-year-old structure being robbed out, and also moved quarries and buildings away from it.
His planting of the sycamore – a move believed by many to have been designed to form a centrepiece in the dip – went on to become a stop-off point for hikers on the 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path.
It was also known as ‘Robin Hood Tree’ after it featured as the backdrop to a scene for the 1991 Kevin Costner blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
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The felled trunk was removed to a secret storage location on October 12 while ecologists continue to examine the stump. Thousands of seeds harvested from the tree now being held by the National Trust’s Plant Conservation Centre.
There are many who are drawing positives from the upset caused by the mindless destruction.
For instance, Andrew Poad – general manager of the heritage site for the National Trust, suggests the vandals may have unwittingly done the tree a favour.
“Effectively, what the perpetrator has done is coppice the tree,” he said.
“So ironically they have prolonged the life of the tree.”
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