The sycamore frond, in a hollow in the land next to Hadrian’s Wall, had marked the horizon in Northumberland for more than two centuries. It was the symbol of the north of England, and also the most photographed, chosen in 2016 as “the tree of the year” in the country. Before, in 1991, he was immortalized in a scene from “Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves” with Kevin Costner, and since then it stuck with the name.
The “Robin Hood Tree” or “Sycamore Gap Tree”, as it was popularly known, had witnessed countless promises of love and of multiple celebrations, revered by hikers and environmentalists as a symbol of resilience, and pampered by photographers from around the world who photographed it from all angles.
He had also resisted scourge of stormsIt was already part of the landscape and the people of this harsh land that marked the limits of Roman Britain. His solitary presence in the middle of the countryside I had some challenge to the inclemencies of time and history.
But something happened on September 28. A call that day alerted Tony Gates, chief executive of the Northumberland National Parks Authority. The hollow It was unrecognizable, the tree had fallen. At first it was thought it may have been Storm Agnes, which hit north-west England, Wales and Scotland.
“I myself thought: its time has come, like every living thing,” Tony Gates acknowledged. “Twenty minutes after the first notice they called me again to tell me that the tree had been cut down. “It has been an insult to the north of England and a drama for everyone who made a personal connection with the tree.”
A 16-year-old boy and a 60-year-old man were arrested – and released on bail – for their alleged relationship with logging, perpetrated at night and with treachery. The police have described what happened as “act of vandalism” and has emphasized the professionalism with which the cut was produced, executed cleanly with a mechanical saw.
The top and branches fell to the other side of the wall. The roots and stump remained in their original place. Experts warn that the tree could grow back, although it would take another 150 years to reach the dimensions it had, nearly 20 meters high. Others have proposed planting seeds, which would maintain at least a genetic link to the original tree.
“There is a deep sense of sadness in the air,” said Newcastle Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley, who sang her own requiem for the “Robin Hood Tree” in her sermon on Sunday. “It is heartbreaking and almost unreal to think that our tree has fallen. “It’s like a reminder of the harshness of the landscape.”
Speaking to The Guardian, local historian Dan Jackson, author of “The Northumbrians”, highlights not only “the iconic value” that the tree had, but also its quality of “being alive and beautiful, perfectly rooted in one of the great e historical landscapes” (it is assumed that it could have been the survivor of a Moraceae grove).
Hadrian’s Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, and the sycamore had become the busiest stop on its 117 kilometers of route. The tree even gave its name to a beer, Sycamore Gap beer, which they continue to serve these days at the Twice Brewed pub, where hundreds of visitors used to stop by.
“Our plan is to continue paying tribute to the tree, and wait for them to decide what is put in its place, although it will be a gap very difficult to fill,” said the pub’s owner, Matt Brown, who is currently benefiting from the flood of curious onlookers who come to pay tribute to the sycamore, despite the fact that the police have cordoned off the perimeter and has asked people to stay out of the area until the investigations are over.
Local newspapers are meanwhile investigating the causes of the “arboricide”, with two theories gaining ground: a personal vendetta against the National Trust or a search for notoriety on Tik Tok. Walter Renwick, a 69-year-old local lumberjack who was evicted a few days ago, has meanwhile come forward in The Daily Mail: “I didn’t do it.”
A 28-year-old young man, Kieran Chapman, planted a young sycamore at his own risk next to the fallen tree, but the National Trust removed it after a few hours without further explanation. “I felt as devastated as everyone else in the north of England,” Chapman told the Newcastle Chronicle. “I thought I’d taken my dog for a walk there over the weekend, so I said to myself, ‘I’m going to try to restore people’s faith in humanity and give them a little hope.'”