Sycamore Gap: beloved tree to be cut up and removed from site - two weeks after it was downed in 'act of vandalism'
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Two weeks after it was suspected to have been illegally felled, one of Britain's most famous trees will be carved into large sections and taken away.
Northumbria Police began investigating after pictures emerged on 28 September of the well-known Sycamore Gap tree lying on its side, with spokespeople from both the force and the Northumberland National Park Authority saying it was believed to have been deliberately felled. A sixteen-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and a man in his sixties was arrested a day later, but both have since been bailed with no charges as of yet.
The famed tree sat alongside Hadrian's Wall, in a dramatic dip between two hills, and was featured in key scenes in Kevin Costner's 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - as well as being one of the most photographed trees in the UK. It is believed to have caused some minor damage to the wall as it fell.
The National Trust - which manages the site - said on Wednesday (11 October) plans had now been made to remove the tree from the UNESCO World Heritage site. Workers were preparing the tree - using chainsaws to remove branches - before it is removed on Thursday, with people being urged to stay away from the immediate area when it happens.
A crane will be used to lift the 50-foot tree off the historic and delicate Roman-era wall, before it is taken from the area and put into safe storage at a trust site. While is too big to move in one piece, experts hope to keep the trunk in large sections to keep options open on what could be done with it in the future.
The stump, which could generate new shoots, will be left in place - it currently behind a protective barrier. The National Trust said seeds have also been collected, which could be used to propagate new saplings.
The Trust's general manager for the site, Andrew Poad, told PA since the felling, they had received thousands of messages about the tree, including advice on what to do with the stump and suggestions of what could be done with the trunk. “We’ve been amazed and inspired by the offers of help and good wishes we’ve received from here in Northumberland, around the UK, and even from overseas.
“It’s clear that this tree captured the imaginations of so many people who visited, and that it held a special – and often poignant – place in many people’s hearts," he added. “It’s currently in a precarious position resting on the wall, so it’s necessary we move it now, both to preserve the world-famous monument that is Hadrian’s Wall, and to make the site safe again for visitors."
Mr Poad said they had "explored every option" for moving the tree, and while it wasn’t possible to lift it in one go, they have tried to keep the sections of the trunk as large as possible, "to give us flexibility on what the tree becomes in future". There would eventually be a public consultation about what happens next at the site.