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Hopes that Sycamore Gap felling could help save ancient oak tree 210-miles away

Sycamore Gap (left) and Darwin Oak (Right) <i>(Image: PA MEDIA)</i>
Sycamore Gap (left) and Darwin Oak (Right) (Image: PA MEDIA)

Hopes of saving a 550-year-old oak tree could hinge on the felling of Sycamore Gap and the emotional outpouring, it has been claimed.

“Vandalism” at the Sycamore Gap has shown the emotional impact of felling ancient trees, an artist has said, after he joined more than 50 creatives at a protest against the potential cutting down of a 550-year-old oak in Shropshire.

Artist Dan Llywelyn Hall, 43, told the PA news agency that painters, poets and photographers from across the country gathered on Sunday to create images of the Darwin Oak in Shrewsbury to protest over its potential felling.

The Northern Echo: Sycamore Gap was felled in September
The Northern Echo: Sycamore Gap was felled in September

Sycamore Gap was felled in September (Image: PA MEDIA)

The tree – named after naturalist Charles Darwin, who lived in the area – could be cut down to make way for the Shrewsbury North West Relief Road.

Defending the tree, Mr Hall, pointed to the public reaction to the “vandalism” at the Sycamore Gap – where police inquiries continue after a tree was felled overnight at Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland in September.

“I think it just shows you how emotive the subject is at the moment,” he said.

The Northern Echo: Darwin Oak
The Northern Echo: Darwin Oak

Darwin Oak (Image: Press Association)

“I think that we have to always remember that people do get very connected to these trees, which are part of our lives and the fabric of our world, which we walk around and see on a day-to-day basis.

“They become the focal points for generations who anchor deep and personal connections.”

He believes ancient trees like the one at Sycamore Gap and the Darwin Oak should be treated “like Unesco protected sites, not inconveniences”.

A petition to save the ancient Darwin Oak has garnered more than 91,000 signatures and celebrities such as Chris Packham and Bianca Jagger have endorsed the campaign.

Mr Hall said the artists’ protest on Sunday was “celebrating the beauty of the area and at the same time the artists are broadcasting this message to the world”.

The Northern Echo: The felling of Sycamore Gap
The Northern Echo: The felling of Sycamore Gap

The felling of Sycamore Gap (Image: PA MEDIA)

The artist is known for being the youngest person to paint the late Queen and has exhibited his picture of the last surviving “Tommy” veteran of the First World War in the National Portrait Gallery.

He said he organised the artists’ protest to “make people aware of what will be lost”.

“Art is one of the best ways that you can do that in a very highly personalised way,” he said.

Plans for the bypass were approved by local councillors in late October.

Meanwhile, inquiries continue into what happened at Sycamore Gap, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, overnight on September 27 to 28, and three adults remain on bail.

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Northumbria Police said they are a man in his 60s and two men in their 30s who were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

There was an outcry when the tree which stood in a dip in the landscape was chainsawed, causing it to fall on the Roman wall which is a World Heritage Site.

Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies said: “We completely recognise the feeling of loss in the community and further afield following the deliberate felling of Sycamore Gap.