You can now listen to Antigua News articles!
by Mick the Ram
The Northumbria Police have announced that a sixteen year old, who was arrested and bailed on suspicion of being involved in the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree, has been released and “will face no further action”.
The teenager was one of four to be brought in for questioning, after the famous landmark was “deliberately” cut down overnight between 27 and 28 September.
Two men in their 30’s and another in his 60’s remain on police bail, as investigations continue. The tree, which was thought to be well over 150 years old, was a tourist attraction for visitors to Hadrian’s Wall, near to the border between England and Scotland.
It was also a focal point along the 84-mile (135km) route, but its popularity really escalated after featuring in the 1991 film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman and Alan Rickman.
Over the years it is said to have been the inspiration for writers and creatives from all over the world.
Community in mourning for lost treasure
The local community were devastated to wake up to the sight of the majestic tree and local treasure, lying prone on the floor having been brutally destroyed, in a senseless act of vandalism. A police investigation was launched and a cordon put in place.
Forensics officers were summoned to the scene and and Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies in charge of the investigation said: “We are committed to establishing the full circumstances” and bringing “any offenders to justice”.
Area still to be a visitor attraction
The trunk of the tree was cut into separate pieces and removed by crane. For now it is being stored at an undisclosed location whilst a decision is made of what to do with it, with suggestions invited from the public.
Temporary fencing has been put in place to protect the remaining stump, with money being raised to create an area around it to encourage visitors to continue to visit the spot.
Coppicing could allow some life back into stump
National Trust manager Andrew Poad said there may be opportunity to “coppice” the stump, as it is still healthy. Coppicing is a technique that involves felling trees at their base to create a stump – which in this case has already been done – which allow shoots to regrow from dormant buds to create a density.
It is a practice dating back to the Stone Age and was originally used to ensure a regular source of firewood and timber.
Wall received some damage
Historic England has also revealed that part of Hadrian’s Wall, which has Unesco World Heritage status, and was constructed by the Romans between AD122 and AD130, also sustained some damage following the felling. They will shortly be carrying out an archaeological appraisal to assess the full extent of the damage.
The director of the Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Kevin Reynolds, described the felling of the tree as “ugly”, “despicable” and “senseless”. The tree was featured in one of the movie’s most famous scenes, bringing it world attention.
He explained how he first came across the site when he was a college student, visiting the UK from America and years later, when scouting for locations for his film, he knew he needed to include it: “It just blew me away, and that was before I even knew what Sycamore Gap was.”
Former landowners vision destroyed
The National Trust, which looks after the site with the Northumberland National Park Authority, said the tree was planted in the late nineteenth century by previous landowner John Clayton, with the vision of it becoming a feature of the landscape.
How right he was, until a mindless act of destruction wiped it out for no logical reason and sadly once a tree of that size and age is savaged in the way that Sycamore Gap was, the depressing fact is it cannot be replaced within any visible time-frame, as effectively it takes centuries.