Sycamore Gap Tree: new sapling planted near vandalised tree 'dug up' by National Trust - as enquiries continue

A flower placed by the felled tree at Sycamore Gap (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
A flower placed by the felled tree at Sycamore Gap (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

A young sycamore sapling planted just metres away from where the famed Sycamore Gap tree was downed has been removed from the site by the National Trust.

Northumbria Police began investigating after pictures emerged last Thursday (28 September) of the well-known 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 on Thursday, and a man in his sixties was arrested on Friday evening, but both have since been bailed with no charges as of yet.

The force has said the investigation is still in its early stages, and inquiries are continuing. On Monday morning, the Independent reported that the police had seized a "large chainsaw" from a barn at a nearby property.

Meanwhile, a new sycamore sapling planted metres from the felled tree by a well-meaning member of the public has been removed.

Kieran Chapman told the Newcastle Chronicle he had planted the replacement tree "to try and restore people's faith in humanity", however the National Trust - which managed the site - told him they removed the tree due to neighbouring Hadrian's Wall's status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"It's just devastating isn't it? It genuinely brought people a lot of joy and that's been taken away," he added. "I honestly thought if it got a good response they might end up keeping it. Aw, that's such a shame."

A Trust spokesperson told the paper: "We understand the strength of feeling following the events at Sycamore Gap this week - and are grateful for the many offers of support and good wishes we've received from near and far."

But they added it was important to remember Hadrian's Wall is an ancient monument, and a "globally important archaeological setting", they continued. "Altering or adding to it can damage the archaeology, and is unlawful without prior consent from government.

"While regrettably we will be removing the sapling, we have spoken to the person who planted it, and are working with them to find an appropriate planting spot within the local area."

The Sycamore gap 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.

In 2020, it was voted England's Tree of the Year, in the Woodland Trust's annual competition. The National Trust hopes its experts may be able to coppice the tree - which would allow it to live on - although it would look considerably different.