LONDON (AP) — A 300-year-old tree near the Roman landmark of Hadrian’s Wall in northeastern England that was cut down two weeks ago in an act of vandalism was to be removed on Thursday.
The National Trust, which for more than 125 years has sought to protect England’s heritage and natural landscapes, said a crane will lift the much-photographed and painted sycamore tree from where it lies near the delicate and now-damaged wall.
“It’s currently in a precarious position resting on the wall, so it’s necessary we move it now, both to preserve the world-famous monument that is Hadrian’s Wall, and to make the site safe again for visitors,” said Andrew Poad, the site’s general manager for the National Trust, which for more than 125 years has sought to protect England’s heritage and natural landscapes,
Though the 50-foot (15-meter) tree is too big to move in one piece, experts hope that the trunk can be kept in large sections in order to leave future options open on what could be done. The stump, which could generate new shoots, will be kept in place and is currently behind a protective barrier. Seeds have also been collected to see if they could be used to propagate new saplings.
“We’ve explored every option for moving the tree and while it isn’t possible to lift it in one go, as the tree is multi-stemmed with a large crown, we have aimed to keep the trunk in as large sections as possible, to give us flexibility on what the tree becomes in future,” Poad said.
Northumbria Police arrested a boy aged 16 and a man in his 60s after the tree was felled a fortnight ago. They have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
The tree was one of the main landmarks along Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built nearly 2,000 years ago when Britain was part of the Roman Empire to guard its northwestern frontier.
For generations, walkers have paused to admire and photograph the tree at Sycamore Gap, which was made famous when it appeared in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film “Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.”
The tree, which was cut down near the base of its trunk, could grow again, experts said, though they cautioned that it would never be the same.
The National Trust has received thousands of messages about the tree, with advice on what to do with the stump and suggestions of what could be done with the felled tree.
There will be a public consultation about what happens next at the site.