Photographers Left Devastated After Iconic Tree is Cut Down by Vandals

Sycamore Gap
The Sycamore Gap tree that used to sit in a dip in Hadrian’s Wall. Photograph by Dru Dodd.

Photographers have expressed their dismay after an iconic tree that made for fantastic photos was deliberately felled.

Known as the Sycamore Gap, it sat next to the Roman-made Hadrian’s Wall in Northumbria, northern England, and a 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the vandalism.

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The sycamore tree sits within a dramatic dip, the geography plus the crumbling Roman walls surrounding it, drew in photographers from miles around.

“Absolutely devastated to hear that someone has cut down this iconic tree,” writes Dru Dodd on Facebook. “I’ve so many wonderful memories of my time throughout my photography career at Sycamore Gap.”

Sycamore Gap with star trails
Dru Dodd photography.

Photographer Ian Sproat tells the BBC that his “heart was ripped out” after he heard the news.

“I was gobsmacked, anger set in, and now sadness,” says Sproat. “It’s a living thing. I keep asking myself, ‘Why would anyone do this?’.”

Another grieving professional photographer who was at the scene today tells the BBC that he had captured it “hundreds of times” and even proposed to his wife there.

“As a photographer the loss of the Sycamore Gap tree, under such sad needless circumstances is awful….. but actually it’s even sadder for the loss of so many people’s memories of spending time hiking to the tree, walking up that final hill and spotting it,” writes Sarah Atkinson on Facebook.

The tree is nicknamed the “Robin Hood Tree” after it appeared in the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that starred Kevin Costner. It was also voted English Tree of the Year in 2016.

“This is a world-renowned landmark and the events of today have caused significant shock, sadness, and anger throughout the local community and beyond,” says Superintendent Kevin Waring, of Northumbria Police.

“An investigation was immediately launched following this vandalism, and this afternoon we have arrested one suspect in connection with our inquiries.”

Image credits: Photographs by Dru Dodd