Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Felled Sycamore Gap tree to be removed by crane

The National Trust said the much-loved tree will be taken away in large sections and stored safely while a decision is made on what to do with it.

Tom Wilkinson
Wednesday 11 October 2023 13:35 BST
Police investigations are continuing into how the famous tree at Sycamore Gap came to be felled (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Police investigations are continuing into how the famous tree at Sycamore Gap came to be felled (Owen Humphreys/PA) (PA Wire)

Plans have been made to remove the Sycamore Gap tree from Hadrian’s Wall after it was felled in an act of vandalism, the National Trust said.

A crane will be used to lift the 50ft tree off the historic and delicate Roman wall, before it is removed from the area and put into safe storage at a trust site.

It is too big to move in one piece, but 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 kept in place and is currently behind a protective barrier.

Seeds have been collected which the National Trust said could be used to propagate new saplings.

The much-photographed and painted lone sycamore, said to be one of the most famous trees in the world and an emblem for the North East of England, was situated in a dramatic dip in the Northumberland landscape.

Northumbria Police arrested a boy aged 16 and a man in his 60s after the tree was felled a fortnight ago. They have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Since then, the National Trust has received thousands of messages about the tree, with advice on what to do with the stump and suggestions of what could be done with the felled tree.

Andrew Poad, the site’s general manager for the National Trust, said: “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.”

Workers were preparing the tree on Wednesday, using chainsaws to remove branches, before it is finally removed on Thursday, with people being urged to stay away from the immediate area when it happens.

Mr Poad said: “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.

“We’ve explored every option for moving the tree and while it isn’t possible to lift it in one go, as the tree is multi-stemmed with a large crown, we have aimed to keep the trunk in as large sections as possible, to give us flexibility on what the tree becomes in future.

“We’re encouraging people to stay away from the site while these complex and difficult operations take place.”

There will be public consultation about what happens next at the site, which has Unesco designation and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Mike Innerdale, the National Trust’s regional director for the North of England, said: “The outpouring we’ve seen shows just how important the connection is between people and nature in its many forms, and as we consider plans for this special tree, and this very special place, we’ll also look to harness that support for trees, landscapes and nature all across the country, and use the sycamore as a symbol of recovery.”

The preservation body Historic England said Hadrian’s Wall sustained damage when the tree fell on it.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in