The picturesque tree stood along a dip in Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Roman army after Hadrian visited the province of Britannia in AD 122 (read more here). The Wall, which spans 117 kilometres (73 miles), was the frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years. The Sycamore Gap Tree was by Hadrian’s Wall, between Milecastle 39 and Crag Lough, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland. The Wall and adjacent land, including the site of the tree, are owned by the National Trust, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to the National Trust, this iconic sycamore tree was planted in the late 1800s by John Clayton, the saviour of Hadrian’s Wall, to be a feature in the landscape. Others have reported that the tree was believed to be about 300 years old. The land and the tree came into the care of the National Trust in the 1940s when the Ordnance Survey was remapping the area. The name “Sycamore Gap” was coined during this time by a National Trust Employee.
The tree appeared to have been cut down with a chainsaw at the base of its trunk, with a white line spray painted on it just below the cut. Northumbria Police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with the felling later that day on suspicion of causing criminal damage (source). A second arrest was made; a man in his 60s was also later arrested in connection with the felling on 29 September 2023 (source) after the teenager was released on bail. Why would anyone do this? A question we are all confused over. Police officers are looking into claims that the tree was felled to be posted online and carried out as part of a TikTok stunt (source).
That tree isn’t dead it’s going to grow back. By next spring it will start pushing out shoots so that by the end of next year it will be taller than me. With a little bit of shaping or even just letting nature take its course, it will in time revert to a full maiden tree. It’s going to recover because 40% of the mass of a tree is below ground in the toots. Those roots are full of energy with massive amount of carbohydrates ready to start pushing branches out again. […] It’s just gone away for a little while, it’s not dead.
Also, the National Trust ranger team have been on site to collect seeds and cuttings from the tree, and they will be working with other partners and the local community to consider plans for the site and the tree in the future.
Visiting the Wall won’t be quite the same without the sycamore. The place will look strange and sad. But the tree will live on in the memories of all those who had stood beneath its branches and felt its timeless presence. Decisions are yet to be made about what will happen next, with suggestions ranging from a memorial bench made from its wood to a life-size bronze replica to fill the gap (source). A celebration room has been set up in the Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre for people to come and share their thoughts and memories of the Sycamore tree.
There are really two Erysichthons, which our reception tends to collapse into one: Erysichthon the arboricide and Erysichthon the autophage. The former is humanity as perpetrator of crimes against nature, the latter humankind’s slow punishment for them.
The perpetrator won’t suffer the fate of Erysichthon, but an appropriate punishment would be to sentence him to plant a thousand trees.
And then, later, I would raise a glass of this special tree with a pint of Sycamore Gap at the nearby Twice Brewed Inn. The Twice Brewed Inn has set up a fundraising page that aims to support a project that will not only celebrate the legacy of the sycamore tree but also benefit the community for generations to come. All money raised will be donated to the proposed projects by the National Trust, and we will work closely to support their ideas. DONATE HERE
The Twice Brewed Inn & Twice Brewed Brewery are also offering a £1,500 bar tab as a reward to the person who provides information to Northumbria Police that leads to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for destroying such a precious beacon of natural beauty on Hadrian’s Wall.
- Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall cut down by ‘vandals’ – BBC News Thu 28 Sep 2023
- Famous Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall found cut down – The Guardian Thu 28 Sep 2023
- Hadrian’s Wall Sycamore Gap tree – in pictures – The Guardian Thu 28 Sep 2023
- Boy, 16, arrested after famous Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland cut down – video – The Guardian Fri 29 Sep 2023
- Sycamore Gap: man, 60, arrested in connection with felled tree – The Guardian Fri 29 Sep 2023
- Official police inquiry being made as historic tree felled for TikTok by pranksters – Express Fri, Sep 29, 2023
- Sycamore Gap: Cut down tree could regrow shoots, experts say – BBC News Fri 29 Sep 2023
- Sycamore Gap tree: New shoots expected to grow, but Hadrian’s Wall tree ‘won’t be the same again’ – The Scotsman Fri 29th Sep 202
- ‘You can’t put a tree back up’: debate rages about memorial for Sycamore Gap – The Guardian Sat 30 Sep 2023
- Death of a Sycamore by Armand D’Angour