Who cut down the Sycamore Gap tree? Everything we know

The world-famous tree was cut down in September in what police believe was a deliberate act of vandalism.

the tree at Sycamore Gap at Hardian's Wall near Housesteads, Northumberland, UK
The Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian's Wall before it was deliberately chopped down. (PA)

What's happening? A man in his 60s arrested following the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree will face no further action, police have said.

The world-famous tree was cut down in September in what police believe was a deliberate act of vandalism.

It stood in a dramatic dip on Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland and was one of the most photographed trees in the UK.

Northumbria Police made a number of arrests on suspicion of causing criminal damage in the wake of the vandalism.

A teenager was later informed he would face no further action and now a man in his 60s has been told the same.

Two men in their 30s remain on bail, the force said on Wednesday, 13 December, as officers pledged again that those responsible will be brought to justice.

HEXHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Workers remove the tree felled at Sycamore Gap on October 12, 2023 in Hexham, England. The trunk of the tree at Sycamore Gap that was felled in an act of vandalism is being cut up and removed by the National Trust today. Northumbria Police have arrested a boy aged 16 and a man in his 60s. Both have been bailed pending further investigation. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The remains of the Sycamore Gap tree were removed by crane in October. (Getty Images)

Earlier in December the National Trust, which owns the land on which the tree stood, said it was hopeful the sycamore will live on after scientists found that salvaged seeds and cuttings are showing positive signs of being viable for new growth.

The charity announced that is is hopeful more than 30% of the mature seeds and half of the cuttings it collected from the tree’s remains will be viable.

It is also hopeful that the trunk of the original tree will regrow, but it may be up to three years before this is known for sure.

The charity said it is also working on a “fitting tribute” to the tree to ensure its legacy lives on.

Yahoo News rounds up everything we know so far about the fallen iconic landmark.

Who cut down the Sycamore Gap?

Workers using chainsaws have begun to remove the Sycamore Gap tree from where it was hacked down by vandals close to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland two weeks ago. (SWNS)
The Sycamore Gap tree stood along Hadrian's Wall for about 300 years. (SWNS)

Four people have been arrested so far in connection with the destruction of the tree.

Police arrested a 16-year-old boy within hours of its felling, then arrested a man in his 60s several days later.

The teenager was later informed he would face no further action and now the man in his 60s has been told the same.

At the beginning of November, police announced they had arrested two more people over the deliberate felling.

Northumbria Police said two men, both aged in their 30s, were arrested on 31 October on suspicion of criminal damage.

They have both since been released on bail as enquiries continue, the force said.

Forensic investigators from Northumbria Police examine the felled Sycamore Gap tree, on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland. A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage in connection with the cutting down of one of the UK's most photographed trees. Picture date: Friday September 29, 2023.
Forensic investigators from Northumbria Police examine the felled Sycamore Gap tree. (PA)

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies said: “I would like to reassure the public that our investigation continues, and we are committed to establishing the full circumstances surrounding the damage, and in bringing any offenders to justice.

“Sycamore Gap is an iconic part of our region’s landscape and we know just how much outrage this incident has caused.

“As always, we continue to welcome any new information from members of the public that could help progress us the investigation.

“We would also like to remind people to avoid speculation and to take care with the information they share and post on social media as this could have repercussions for our investigation.”

More North East - click image above
More North East - click image above
The Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall was thought to be more than 300 year's old. (Getty Images)
The Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall was thought to be more than 300 years old. (Getty Images)

An online petition has been launched calling for tough measures for the "vandals" responsible, including them having to plant 10,000 trees as community service.

The petition, started by preservationist Kim Whitehouse, said those responsible should be charged with vandalism to "send a strong message that such acts will not be tolerated".

It added that they should "contribute positively towards rectifying their destructive actions" through community service, saying: "To ensure meaningful restitution for their crime against nature and history, I recommend that each person involved in this heinous act commit to planting 10,000 trees in the local community."

Where was the Sycamore Gap tree?

The frequently photographed tree, made famous when it appeared in the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, was located next to Hadrian’s Wall and close to the village of Once Brewed.

The Northumberland landmark, which inspired its own beer in the nearby Twice Brewed Inn, was described as one of the most photographed in the country and was awarded Tree of the Year in 2016.

A reward of a £1,500 bar tab has been offered by the pub for anyone with information that could help find who chopped the iconic tree down.

The 50ft tree was looked after by the Northumberland National Park Authority and the National Trust.

The tree has been removed from the site by a crane, and is now being kept at a storage facility by the National Trust.

Where is the Sycamore Gap tree now?

HEXHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12: Workers remove the tree felled at Sycamore Gap at Sycamore Gap on October 12, 2023 in Hexham, England. The trunk of the tree at Sycamore Gap that was felled in an act of vandalism is being cut up and removed by the National Trust today. Northumbria Police have arrested a boy aged 16 and a man in his 60s. Both have been bailed pending further investigation. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Workers remove the tree felled at Sycamore Gap. (Getty Images)

The Sycamore Gap tree is reportedly being stored in a secret location to protect it from souvenir hunters.

According to the Sunday Times, police caught several members of the public trying to take pieces of the tree from the site where it was felled.

The tree has since been removed from the site by a crane, and is now being kept at a storage facility by the National Trust.

Lady Jane Gibson, chairwoman of the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, told the Sunday Times: “The wood from the tree has been taken away and stored for safekeeping at a secure location.

“There were concerns people were taking pieces of it for mementoes, like what happened with the Berlin Wall, when people would take a piece as a keepsake.

“It is now being safely stored as we work on potential future uses for the timber.”

The National Trust has asked the public for suggestions on what to do with the leftover wood from the felled tree, with options including turning it into a bench where the tree once stood, or even making it into pencils.

How old was the Sycamore Gap tree?

Sycamore Gap at Hadrians Wall
The Sycamore Gap tree as it once stood along Hadrian's Wall. (PA)

The tree was estimated to have been at least 300 years old and while experts have said new shoots are expected to grow from it, the tree will never be the same again.

National Trust general manager Andrew Poad said the stump was “healthy” and staff might be able to coppice the tree – a technique allowing new shoots to grow from the base of a trunk.

Rob Ternent, head gardener at The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, said the tree will start growing again but “won’t ever be the same shape or as good of a tree as it was”.

He said: “It’s worth a try but I think livestock and wildlife will potentially damage it as well. It’ll be very difficult to get it back to the original tree.

“The growing season’s coming to an end now but by spring next year it will have some life in it. It’ll probably be about eight foot tall, but it’ll be lots of singular branches, more bushy.

“It was about 300 years old so it’ll take a long time to get back to that size. It’s a massive shame.”

Hadrian’s Wall damaged

Heritage crime specialists working for Historic England have discovered minor damage to Hadrian’s Wall – and say it was done by those responsible for cutting down the Sycamore Gap tree.

Hadrian’s Wall is 1,900 years old and is a Unesco world heritage site.

A Historic England spokeswoman told The Times: “We appreciate how strongly people feel about the loss of the tree, and its impact on this special historic landscape, and will continue to work closely with others as this progresses.”

The National Trust has now begun discussions with stakeholders about the future of the site.

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Watch: Felled Sycamore Gap tree removed from Hadrian's Wall