Who cut down the Sycamore Gap Tree? Forensic examiners search scene as theories mount

29 September 2023, 14:45 | Updated: 29 September 2023, 14:58

Forensic experts examine the Sycamore Gap Tree
Forensic experts examine the Sycamore Gap Tree. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Police forensic investigators were examining the Sycamore Gap trunk for clues after officers bailed a 16-year-old boy who was arrested and questioned over the felling.

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The world-famous tree had stood in a dip along Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland for 300 years before it was chopped down with a chainsaw on Wednesday night.

Forensic experts examine Sycamore Gap tree
Forensic experts examine Sycamore Gap tree. Picture: Alamy

The felling of the tree - which featured in 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - has sparked outrage, with authorities calling it a 'deliberate act of vandalism'.

Detectives continued to investigate after claims that the damage was done by 'a professional who knew where they were going to cut' on a windy night during 83mph Storm Agnes which would possibly have disguised the sound of a chainsaw.

And nature experts claim that the Sycamore Gap stump could grow some new shoots next spring - but would take decades to became a new tree.

Caller Dominic shares heartbreaking story of how his family is ‘intwined’ with Sycamore Gap tree

Read More: Glimmer of hope for Sycamore Gap stump as shoots could regrow from 'deliberately' felled tree

Read More: Woman 'grieving all over again' after iconic Sycamore Gap Tree where she scattered her brother's ashes is felled

Read More: Boy, 16, arrested after 300-year-old world-famous Sycamore Gap Tree along Hadrian's Wall felled during the night

One said the tree could be about eight foot tall by next spring, but with "lots of singular branches".

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage but has since been released on bail.

Now mystery shrouds why and how the 300-year-old tree came to the ground so suddenly and Northumberland National Park (NNP) is determined to unravel the enigma and is working with police.

Police work at the Sycamore Gap site
Police work at the Sycamore Gap site. Picture: Alamy

Here are three theories as to what may have happened::

"Lone 'professional' chopped down the tree and 'knew the area'"

Some say that the Sycamore Gap could have been chopped down by "a professional who knew where they were going to cut". They could have used a torch to complete the job in the dark.

Others have suggested an accomplice would have been required to help with the chainsaw or provide light - but police are yet to confirm how many were involved in the hacking of the beloved tree.

White paint on the tree stump shows the destruction was pre-planned

National Trust has acquired most of the land on which adjacent Hadrian's Wall sits. It appears National Trust has considered the act was planned because it noted the tree appeared to have been marked with white paint.

Could Storm Agnes have caused Sycamore Gap's destruction?

Some visitors, who had been on hiking trips said they initially believed the tree had fallen during Storm Agnes.

But hiker iker Alison Hawkins, who lives in Liverpool and had been walking through the national park on Thursday, said: "At first we thought it was because of the storm but then we saw a national park ranger. He said it had been cut down and there was paint around the cut section, so it was a professional who knew where they were going to cut,"

Ms Hawkins said. It is, therefore, unlikely Storm Agnes was linked to the destruction.

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