Was the Sycamore Gap Tree felled as a social media prank? Theory emerges as landmark 'could become a giant totem pole'

2 October 2023, 09:26 | Updated: 2 October 2023, 14:13

Walter Renwick denies any involvement in cutting down the Sycamore Gap tree
Walter Renwick denies any involvement in cutting down the Sycamore Gap tree. Picture: Facebook/Alamy

By StephenRigley

Police investigating the felling of the world-famous Sycamore Gap Tree are looking into claims it was cut down as part of a social media stunt.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The new line on enquiry emerged after the latest person arrested last night in connection with the destruction of the landmark tree was released.

Walter Renwick, who lives just eight miles from where the tree used to stand, was arrested on Friday night after the famous 300-year-old tree was found chopped down on Thursday.

He and a 16-year-old boy who had previously been arrested were later released while police continued to investigate.

Local rumours had linked the pensioner with the tree felling, because of his former profession and because he had recently been evicted from his property.

But he has said any suggestion he cut it down is "ridiculous" and that he's "not that stupid".

Reacting to social media gossip yesterday, he said: "The speculation is bloody ridiculous. I'll tell you this much, I wouldn't be so sad to do that.

"It was a lovely tree, an iconic tree, but I mean to go up there and cut that down, I'm not that stupid."

Relatives said he wasn't in good enough health to commit the crime.

Mr Renwick's daughter-in-law told The Times that he was in custody at Newcastle police station for "something he hasn't even done". 

She added: "He’s got two leaking heart valves. He’s never fit enough to get up there. He’s down here living like f*****g Bear Grylls."

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

The felled Sycamore Gap tree
The felled Sycamore Gap tree. Picture: Alamy

Mr Renwick added: "It makes it sound like me, doesn't it, because it was a good cut," he said, referring to the clean way the tree had been cut down.

"It was dark obviously but it was a lovely moonlit night... the cut was brilliant.

"When I say brilliant, you can tell a good lumberjack by the way he cuts a tree down. I haven't seen the cut obviously, but I have seen it on the computer."

Forensic investigators from Northumbria Police examine the felled Sycamore Gap tree
Forensic investigators from Northumbria Police examine the felled Sycamore Gap tree. Picture: Alamy

Mr Renwick said: "My chainsaw's down here by that barn door, but you can see that it hasn't been used for ages."

The comments come amid reports that the tree's remains could be turned into a giant totem pole, in a bid to keep tourists interested, or possibly a memorial carving, the Daily Express reported.

Thousands of pounds have been raised so for to pay to renovate the historic site.

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.

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.

The Sycamore Gap tree in its former glory
The Sycamore Gap tree in its former glory. Picture: Alamy

A close relative said: "There is no way he [Walter] could've done this, he absolutely loves the land. He lives for the land. "

Mr Renwick's younger brother Colin said: "I know 100 per cent he's not done it. I'm utterly convinced he has not done it.'This has been nothing more than trial by Facebook."

Mr Renwick learned he was suspected of cutting the tree down when his brother visited him and said: "I'm pleased to see you're still here.

"He then said the tree had been cut down and that 'everybody is pointing the finger at you'."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Child rescued

Helicopter’s thermal imaging camera helps find child in Florida swamp

Congress Senate

Mitch McConnell to step down as US Senate Republican leader in November

A group of influencers have joined a Government campaign to tackle loneliness in young people

'People feel embarrassed and ashamed': Why lonely youngsters aren’t seeking help as Government launches campaign

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell to step down as US Senate Republican leader

Joe Biden

Joe Biden has annual physical examination

Emma Caldwell and her mother Margaret

'Blood on their hands': Family of murdered sex worker Emma Caldwell hit out at police after investigation 'failings'

Prince Harry

Al Qaeda 'called for Prince Harry to be killed,' court filing says, as he loses challenge for taxpayer funded protection

French authorities are said to be handling the situation.

One dead and two missing after small boat incident in Channel as urgent search and rescue operation launched

This super speedy acceleration makes "not an especially nice noise", with the journalist saying it is "bowel loosening".

Jeremy Clarkson brands supercars 'too difficult' after driving new £308k vehicle

Aerial view of mansions still standing along a cliff after a portion of the cliffside (L) tumbled to the Pacific Ocean following days of heavy rains earlier this month on February 27, 2024 in Dana Point, California

Multi-million dollar mansions left teetering on cliff edge after landslides, but authorities say there's 'no threat'

Christian Horner has been cleared of inappropriate behaviour

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner cleared of inappropriate behaviour as 'grievance dismissed' after investigation

Black audience-only performances, also known as Black Outs, aim to get Black people into the theatre - an otherwise white-dominated space.

West End play criticised over 'Black Out' performances, which protects theatre goers from 'the white gaze'

Nigeria Shell Sale

Activists urge Nigeria to delay Shell’s £1.89bn sale of assets in Niger Delta

Christian Horner

Geri Halliwell's husband Christian Horner set to be cleared of misconduct after 'inappropriate behaviour' allegations

Five people died when the Titan submersible suffered a 'catastrophic implosion'

Mystery banging noises that sparked hope in desperate search for missing Titan submersible released for first time

Emma Caldwell was killed in 2005 and her body was found in woods 40 miles from Glasgow

Predator to spend life behind bars after strangling woman to death and dumping her naked body in woods