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Iconic tree at Hadrian's Wall's 'Sycamore Gap' has been 'felled' (hexham-courant.co.uk)
162 points by eirikurh 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 203 comments

Can I just say this: BASTARD.

What kind of bastard destroys such a thing of natural beauty?

This bastard is not alone, there are other bastards out there. For example, Sheffield council: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/mar/06/sheffield-ci...

and Plymouth council: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-64961358

and this guy: https://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/19660776.northwood-ma...

and especially this guy: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-65890748

I am surprised how weirdly common it is. Something similar happened nearish me as well:


Hs2 needlessly cut down thousands of ancient oaks

> Hs2 needlessly cut down thousands of ancient oaks

That depends whether you agree that HS2 is justified. HS2 would argue that the loss to humanity/UK of cutting down those ancient oaks is worth it due to the benefits of HS2.

Whereas cutting down the Sycamore Gap tree benefited no one.

I don’t think there are any benefits, it’s cancelled (or about to be)

Nonsense, it's not cancelled and cancelling it would be absolutely ridiculous... HS2 is pretty critical in creating capacity since the WCML is basically at full capacity. HS2 is important for taking long distance passenger trains off the WCML to allow that to be used for more freight and shorter distance regional trips.

What is the meaning of all of this? Is this just anti-social behavior seeping into city councils? Is there some political motive here?

"If you want to destroy the spirit of a country don't kill its people, burn its forests, fell the trees, and destroy its prized cultural artifacts"

The oldest trick in the book of war

Or, more likely, just a city council or urban planning department that doesn't care about nature conservation.

Wood thieves fall in a different category; Those are the worst offenders by number. Companies or local goverments stealing trees from public parks has became a too common activity since the austericide. Very profitable also; most people don't understand that plants have a big economical value just as raw materials. But is not this case; nobody tried to remove the wood.

Revenge is a fact. Some protected very old oaks had been killed in Spain after tourism to see them became too invasive. Probably not the same with the sycamore, but it could be a team of badly advised locals, for sure.

The fact is that there is a global pattern in Europe and USA of manipulating rednecks and gullible people against nature. Social media is doing this all the time resulting in a lot of wildfires in Europe lately. Remote manipulation seems probable here.

This may be a plausible case of wood thievery IMAO. It shows a lot of the common "modus-operandi" patterns. 14th century old oak. UK. 2022


To be fair, sometimes is just well-meaning local authorities trying to avoid a perceived danger. Trees sometimes fall over people. Sometimes is a mix of greed and fear. Public trees with useless wood are more often saved or left alone.

If Sheffield City Council were at war with England, that might make sense. Are you suggesting that is the case?

Or, if not, and destroying the spirit of the country is the tactic, what is the goal they are trying to accomplish with it?

What confusing grammar.

In almost every case it's because the tree's are stopping a guy from making some money. It's that simple.

'we have reason to believe it was deliberately felled'

One look at the base of that trunk and I think you can upgrade that to 'we know it was deliberately felled'.

The cut is too straight and flat to be an amateur with a chainsaw.

A cheapo chainsaw wouldn't be long enough to do this without needing to go in from both sides.

There is also a paint line along the cut. Who paints along the line they're about to cut if they're just cutting down a tree?

Yes, all agreed. I've lived on a large lot in Canada where every year some trees were logged to give the rest breathing room. This wasn't done by someone who used a chainsaw for the first time, neither was it done with a small saw, that's a very clean cut. To add insult to injury they aimed the drop straight at the wall.

> The cut is too straight and flat to be an amateur with a chainsaw.

Looks like it was a 16 year old kid:


Well, just that he’s been arrested in connection - not that he did it. He could have there with the people, he may have known who did it etc.

A minor? groomed to do the job?, scapegoat for sacrifice? How convenient

Question 2: Should a 16 year old be able to get a chainsaw.

> Question 2: Should a 16 year old be able to get a chainsaw.

No. In the UK, it should be illegal for 16 year olds to get their hands on anything more than a dull crayon.

Why would a 16 year old be in a situation to need a chainsaw but not have anyone older to purchase it for them?

Why would a legal system set out a bunch of laws categorizing age limits for various objects? And laws penalizing people who don't secure their chainsaws in gun cabinets, for that matter.

Will they be allowed hand saws? Hammers? Chefs knives? Dremels?

Besides, 16 is old enough to drive and hold a job in lots of places.

From a shop? From a parent? Or from an employer?

When it comes to employers, City and Guilds NPTC and Lantra chainsaw courses are only offered to people at the Minimum School Leaving Age and above. Since employers are not permitted under HSE regulations to let untrained people operate chainsaws, and since the training is not instant, this effectively bars 16-year-olds from getting chainsaws from their employers.

I will go ahead and assume that in the middle of nowhere and with no cameras in sight, the authorities may have used any available data (i.e. cell tower antennas information, social media tracking your phone's location 24/7, and so on).

Chainsaws like that cannot be handled by a random 16 boy, unless he is the son of Hulk or Thor. Perhaps the kid texted to a friend "we cut the treeeeee" or similar.. I would be VERY surprised to finally see proven that a 16yo did this.

Side note: I have used a chainsaw numerous times in my late teens cutting down branches for a fireplace. I could never manage to cut the tree trunk pieces, even on a chopped down tree. Branches (20cm diameter or less) were easy peasy. But a 60? 70cm diameter? Nah...

You were some kinda scrawny 16 year old kid.

Most of the problem is dealing with the physics of keeping the chainsaw from binding which requires experience (or dumb luck) more than strength.

Exactly, an average 12-14yo of modest strength could maneuver the chainsaw. The hard part about that work is doing it safely when unexpected things happen.

I have seen chainsaws that are huge, used in industrial logging. This section of comments is daft -- look at the size of the tree .. not "50 cm" trunk at all .. much larger. Secondly a boy of 16 can be anything between a helpless sheep to an olympian. Hard labor is not for all of them.

Yes, and the cut is very neat. Well, the cuts, actually, as we can see on the pictures that cuts were made on each side in order for the tree to fall in a certain way.

The person who did that knew what they were doing and knew how to handle a large chainsaw to fell large trees.

I'll counter that - I'm of fairly slight build, and I have cut down multiple trees in my garden with my chainsaw, easily 50cm diameter. It's not that much of a stretch to imagine cutting down something a little bigger. Chainsaws aren't that heavy.

That's an exceptionally clean tree-felling, though the position of the hinge indicates it was meant to fall toward the wall.

The paint looks like an indication on how big to make the hinge, which actually suggests someone who "knows what they're supposed to be doing" but not "used to doing it all the time".

So potentially, "someone who just watched a youtube video on how to fell a tree"?

That's what I would suspect. Someone who did enough research but hadn't really done it before.

But! It also looks pretty clean for a "first try" so maybe the paint is something else.

I have felled a couple of old apple trees in my garden with a chainsaw after watching a "few Youtube videos".

The trunks were maybe 30 to 40cm in diameter so obviously much smaller trees than that sycamore (well apple trees for a start and much younger) and I can tell you that this is one of those things that looks easy when you watch but not so much when you do it. Handling a chainsaw to be able to make clean, straight cut through takes practice and you need a good chainsaw as well.

So IMHO there is no chance in hell that the sycamore was felled by an amateur.

I believe that one has to be at least 16 to become a trainee so maybe that 16 year old has received previous training and/or his family works in the field. Or he didn't do it himself.

You know sometimes you just fall while carrying a motor saw with the throttle fully open. Happens to the best of us.

accidental shotgun blasts too -- sorry about that!

Snark aside:

They need to make sure that someone wasn't trying to take down a different tree and made a mistake.

Highly unlikely, that can happen in a dense forest with unmarked trees but this is controlled land and there is only the one tree there in that particular setting.

Also: then the tree would have been stripped and removed. Someone just cut it down and ran off.

Unless this particular tree has an identifier of SYT-786B, and tree SYT-7868 was slated for felling, in which case this could have been an error, although you'd expect someone to have double-checked given the prominence of this specific tree.

If you’re from a 70 mile radius of that tree, you know its significance. Nobody would drive up and say “wow ok yeah gonna cut down this tree I don’t know what it is”.

“Hi Boss, I got my work list for today and it says to chop down the sycamore gap tree, are you sure this is right?”

“Hmm, odd, I would have thought there’d have been a separate heads-up on that. Let me check… yep, that’s what it says in the system, guess I must have missed the memo. We’re already behind on the monthly target, see if you can squeeze in three more by the end of the day.”

Low probability does not mean zero probability, and the vast majority of an investigator's job is dealing with low probability events. Journalists want them to make definitive statements about things that occurred just hours earlier, and their experience says that don't yet know enough to make such a definitive statement. Give 'em a break :)

Given how widely known this tree at Sycamore Gap was, you’d have to be the stupidest person alive to accidentally cut it down. There are literally no other trees nearby.

Yes. Zero probability. Just look at this pictures from the different sides of the gap:



There is zero chance this was a mistake, it’s the only tree in the area and to say it’s iconic in the North East is an understatement - this was a deliberate act, the only thing in doubt is their state of mind.

From a legal perspective, this isn’t an issue. It’ll be a brave barrister that tries to argue a lack of intent when someone travels to the arse end of nowhere with a chainsaw and cuts a well-known tree down. I’d honestly expect the judge to throw the hammer at anyone who even tried.

That’s the expected British understatement, it’s just how the police communicates there.

I think it's the correct terminology here. The police believe and suspect, the court try and prove. Arrests are always made 'on suspicion of'.

This is the correct language from the perspective of how things ought to be done, and journalists in the USA would do well to follow this example.

Yes, if only because that'd be libel outherwise unless the person is ultimately convicted.

In addition, an arrest does not guarantee that the person will even be charged.

No the prosecution try to prove.

The the judge, judges.

Well that's how it's 'supposed' to work.

> Then the judge, judges.

Unless it's a criminal offense and the defendant invoked his right to being judged by a jury.

Even then, the judge is still doing judging.

The jury determine if the defendant is guilty of charges or not, based on the evidence given during the trial. The judge still judges the admissibility of evidence, the conduct of the prosecution and defence, etc., and also determines the punishment or sentence, based on sentencing guidelines, if the jury find the defendant guilty of any charges.


Exactly. Personally I find that really good: factual and rational without being unnecessarily accusatory.

I was trying to figure out the significance of this tree. It is alongside the wall but does not date to its construction, or anywhere near.

It is several hundred years old, which is certainly remarkable though far from unique. It seems to be known primarily for being picturesque, which is less about the tree itself and more for being located in an interesting gap in the hills. It shows up in a number of movies, and as far as I can tell, its being really famous only dates to the 1990s.

I don't mean to diminish this. It was a much-beloved icon destroyed in senseless cruelty. I was just trying to put it into context for myself. Its proximity to the much older icon is largely coincidental.

Us Brits are very passionate about lovely trees!

I’ve walked along that part of Hadrian’s Wall and stopped at that tree a number of times and it truly was a beautiful spot with real impact.

I don’t think there is any rational significance to the tree - it was just an ancient beautiful tree, standing alone in a very dramatic landscape. A tree that many folks paused to rest at and admire as they walked along Hadrian’s wall (itself steeped in history).

This is a tree that was probably touched by both Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman. This is close to holiness.

Boy, 16, arrested after Hadrian's Wall tree felled


If he wanted to destroy irreplaceable trees, all he had to do was come to Canada and he’d get paid to do it.

Nothing sadder than 30' of remaining strip to the side of the road and clearcut from there to the horizon. If you're on the road you don't even see the difference but ecologically speaking it's a disaster.

The tree has its own Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sycamore_Gap_Tree

Big misstep from the article not publishing a picture of the tree standing.

local landowner* was getting cross with all the people coming to see it. I've had a couple of run ins with them walking the dog there

* edit: i mentioned this on another forum and was corrected- the land is owned by the National Trust, my run ins were probably with a tennant farmer.

What happens when an unstoppable instagram generation meets an immovable NIMBY.

The popularity of that tree predates Instagram. Insta might exacerbate the phenomenon but it's not new. E.g. Rick Steves and Cinque Terre.

As I touched on in another comment, social media is a disproportionate attractor of travelers for many famous locations around the world, especially for those that are "out of the way". In addition, there is an influx of global middle class with the newly found means to travel. Over a billion people in a generation.

Even in already-popular places I think there is something about “getting the photo” that gives people this kind of tunnel vision where they’ll behave in ways they might not otherwise. It has been noticeable living near and regularly walking/running across the Brooklyn Bridge and through the Front and Washington viewpoint in DUMBO, before and after the rise of Instagram. People are aggressive, selfish, and absolutely unaware of others as they try to get their version of a photo that is taken tens of thousands of times a day.

I wish people would realize that their vacation photos should include, well, them. When I travel, I'm taking pictures of my family doing things, not the things they're doing. No one needs another generic copy of just the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.

I recall a story I once read about an elderly woman showing her family videos from her trip to the Grand Canyon decades before. You could hear her shooing her family out of the video so she could get a good view of the Grand Canyon, and afterwards she just wished she had more video of her family, not of a landmark. There are innumerable photos of most of these places, only a few of family and friends.

I don't want photos of me popping up in my holiday photos. I want things that reminds me of where I went, not my poor fashion choices when abroad!

I don't know why people don't just download a photo then?

Of what? You assume I just go to famous landmarks and take typical photos of them? A small fraction of my photos chorus be obtained online. Most are fairly unique.

I find it hard to download memories and mementos

Oh, there'll be photos of themselves, all posed in the same way and always with the same smiles, straight off the factory line.

I let people enjoy what they want, I swear, but rote instagram portraits are as bland as wet newspaper.

Some people just enjoy photographing you know. Personally I do both.

Reminds me of a wonky pub that inconveniently burnt down recently.

I wonder if such tennant can be evicted.

If it's found they felled the tree then they're in a lot of trouble.

Sadly it would be pretty hard to pin this on them. Farmers and field owners get away with almost anything in the UK. Look at the gorse fires or the state of Lough Neagh.

I believe you but I find it hard to imagine that something like this would go without serious consequences. Here in NL cutting down any tree, even if it is on your own land requires a permit. Doing it without a permit to a vandalize a valuable piece of heritage should not be without consequences.

You've misunderstood me. Cutting down this tree in the UK also needs permission. The question is only whether the landowner in question can or would be tied to the crime and punished.

This is also an issue in the NL. I grew up in the UK but I've lived the most significant years of my life in the NL so I feel like I can speak a bit to both cases. If something happens in the countryside with noone around to see there's very little that can be done, there's a certain impunity or a security through obscurity that exists outside of cities.

And I know that this is HN and what I'm about to say doesn't quite meet general etiquette rules here, but the idea that farmers are somehow more controlled in the NL than elsewhere is laughable when the literal Farmers Party is one of the main political forces in the country.

> And I know that this is HN and what I'm about to say doesn't quite meet general etiquette rules here, but the idea that farmers are somehow more controlled in the NL than elsewhere is laughable when the literal Farmers Party is one of the main political forces in the country.

No disagreement on that one, we're out of control to put it mildly. The next elections (which are soon) will be 'interesting' for all the wrong reasons.

> Here in NL cutting down any tree, even if it is on your own land requires a permit.

Depends on the municipality. Rules around cutting down trees vary from "go ahead if it's not one of these 5 protected trees" to "please pay 1000 euro to request a permit 6 weeks in advance".

Go ahead is still a permit though.

Many municipalities state there is no need for a permit unless you want to cut down specific protected trees.

The problem is proving it; everyone in rural areas know of things that occur "outside the law" and exactly who did it, but there's no court-admissible evidence.

Court admissible evidence is more likely to turn up when it's front page news and people are digging though.

Same with the recent story about a famous pub called the Crooked House, which mysteriously caught fire a month after a new owner took over the closed premises and was demolished remarkably swiftly. Because it generated a lot of outrage (not from regular patrons, but from people who liked how it looked), it got more attention than your average arson where the owners were obvious suspects, and sure enough there have been actual arrests as well as rumours about other fires involving the same owners and evidence of demolition equipment having been leased the day before the fire

Was fire insurance involved? The fire insurance companies are often one of the only ones willing to dig into this stuff.

Rumours and arrests are one thing and not uncommon in any case, but has anyone been charged with a crime?

Rumours about organizations behind the incident are normally in local pubs rather than national newspapers though. The last couple of arrests were only today, with three more released on bail. Proving it in a courtroom is another thing, but it sounds to me like more resource than would usually be thrown at investigating a fire in an empty building.

Rumours in the pub and rumours in the paper are no different in the court of law. Has any evidence been brought forward and has anyone been charged with a crime?

Rumours in the national press are a lot more influential in allocating police resources to finding evidence and interviewing suspects than rumours in the local pub.

Not really sure why you're continuing to insist on a Sherlock Holmes style resolution where everyone's been charged and all evidence is in the public domain within the first couple of months, but what is evident is that it hasn't been abandoned like it often would have been by now.

You said that "Court admissible evidence is more likely to turn up when it's front page news and people are digging" and then used this as an example. I'm asking because it doesn't seem to actually be an example of what you're claiming.

I used it as a topical example of another ongoing case where court admissible evidence was more likely to turn up because the police are more motivated to look for it and people with possibly relevant information more likely to testify, yes. If I had meant my outrageously bold claim that stuff is more likely to be found if more people look harder for it to rest entirely on this case, I would have said so!

If you're struggling to see any link between five people being bailed and a case being somewhat more thoroughly investigated and likely to make it to court than the average empty building arson, maybe leave the tedious armchair lawyering to someone who can.

That's because the police generally don't give a toss, and neither do the courts.

If it gets in the newspapers etc, then it's suddenly in their interests to do something.

DNA samples will be getting taken as we speak.

Not really. As the police say they are investigating whether a crime has been committed, because quite likely, there has not been.

This is more likely a private matter between tenant and landlord - and unless the lease explicitly prohibits the felling of trees, then they haven’t broken their lease agreement.

If it wasn’t the tenant, then at most it’s vandalism, property damage, and a small fine will be the result.

Criminal damage is definitely classified as a crime, hence the name, even if the punishment is (as you say) likely just a small fine.

There were very few people there every time I've been, seems like a poor reason.

Not a bad website by the appalling standards of local newspapers in the UK but there's a better page on this story at the Beeb fwiw:


That is probably because it is a Newsquest Media publication, rather than a Reach PLC publication. Reach PLC journalism is sometimes laughably bad, sometimes lamentably.

Some Newsquest Media titles are running the rather longer piece from the Press Association. For example:


Yes, I was particularly thinking of Retch PLC, which Private Eye recently reckoned had had one of its own senior execs complaining about how bad the website was.

A similar thing happens in the name of public interest on a regular basis.


The immature, probably ill-raised boy who perpetrated this 1-tree act at Hadrian's Wall - a boy not even old enough to understand what "heritage" truly is - becomes the symbol of hatred around the world, and the full-grown man upon whose orders dozens and hundreds are killed with as-near-equally-thin-justification as to not matter, gets to be (then) Prime Minister, lauded high class high-table sitter of the world, paid 5-figures to talk for an hour, for the rest of his life.

The rage we should expend upon the latter, but which we are societally programmed to simply accept as compromise, instead gets emotionally expended upon stupid little 1-hit-wonders like this young kid at Hadrian's - as a symbol of all that's wrong with the world, and in lieu of actually expending our deep displeasure with those who make such acts systemic, everyday business.

We have it backwards.

Can you put it back together?

I mean normally you wouldn't even try, but if you cut a tree like that and stick the two halves back together and support it, could it remain alive?

I know you can graft branches ...

Honestly I've no idea why that wouldn't work given what does actually work in terms of grafting.

In theory yes, but in the best cases you would have a very heavy load joined by stitches and not much more. Plus a few flattened tourists at the first breeze. An engineer could design a device gluing a inner core of hard wood or so, but we would need an expert on materials for that, and political will to allocate resources and do it fast.

The tree will regrow from the basis and grow fast for a while, but its health is doomed forever, will be also very vulnerable to cattle and wind (hanging forever from a hollowed trunk). nobody alive will see a 300 Yo healthy tree here anymore.

Acer pseudoplatanus has a semi-soft wood. That fact is relevant to investigate if the Satan's little tool needed help or not. Doing the same with an oak would be much more difficult for an adolescent.

My bet is that there was a team here, and the boy role was to be chewed by the police as a bait. Knowing it or not. The intellectual author could be in a different country by now.

> An engineer could design a device gluing a inner core of hard wood or so ...

You'd probably be better off to use an internal splint/pin of some sort.

Rough guess (with no calculations done), something along the lines of drilling a 30cm wide hole both ~half a metre upwards into the remaining trunk, and downwards into the stump, then fit a matching stainless steel rod to mount the tree back onto the stump.

To keep it from spinning on that rod (!), you'd probably use a second smaller pin (20cm x 40cm?) offset a bit.

No idea how to splice the upper and lower bark together though, such that there is adequate nutrient flow. :(

Stainless steel is rigid. We would need a material with some flexibility probably

Connecting vases is the easy part as long as is done fast, or the cut piece is covered and protected from became too dry and develop longitudinal cracks. Just sinking it in running, good quality, freshwater would help for weeks probably. Maybe even months.

First, all leaves and some branches must be removed to avoid fast dehydration. Both surfaces have to be polished to 1) assure a good contact (the chainsaw removes a few centimeter ring of the wood, so you can just put it in place and wait) and 2) achieve perfectly 180 degrees flat surfaces so all the forces are applied vertically and the trunk remains in the same place instead to slip to the right for example.

Then you need to (pressure?) wash the surface to remove any debris and unclog the vases.

next step would be to put both trunks in the exact position with a crane (should be easy part. The trunk section is not a regular circle). The idea would be trying to connect most possible vases at least in a side even if you don't achieve a 100% contact and the other side must end very displaced. As long as you can somehow assure that the weight has accurate support, this is all.

Survival is not guaranteed. no government has been done this before, but any politician succeeding on this would send a strong message, and probably became very popular overnight. Just trying would improve their image.

> Stainless steel is rigid. We would need a material with some flexibility probably

Good point, that'd probably be more optimal.

typo of the day

so you can just put it in place -> so you can't just...

The verb "sinking" is also a bad choice here. The tree will need to breath so the upper part should be left emerged.

It's a sycamore tree. Unless they poisoned the roots, it will probably grow back quickly from the stump.

Yea this is my question too I feel like they could bring in an expert and graft the pieces back

A tree is 'mostly dead', the inside doesn't do much, the outside is where all the action is and grafts are usually done with very young material so there will be plenty of support by the time it gets larger and heavier. The proportion of 'living:dead' material is much more amendable to grafting too. And it tends to be done with budding branches rather than a whole tree, in fact I haven't been able to find any reference of someone cutting down a tree and putting it back together, especially one of this size, the structural challenge alone makes it something that I do not think will work, especially not in that location with the tree taking the brunt of the wind load through that gap.

Perhaps this tree will get its own "Golden Spruce" story. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiidk%27yaas

I mean, it's beautiful but also another reason I'm disappointed.

I walked Hadrian's Wall a few years ago in a very hot (for the UK) summer, and there were very few places some days to get shade and have a rest.

The tree provided lovely shade and lots of people chose to sit there to relax, cool down, and have a drink.

The sad thing about this tree is that there aren't hundreds more!

Walter Renwick, a 69 Yo retiree who lives on Plankey Mill Farm just 8 miles from the gap, was arrested on Friday.

The farm is owned by the Jesuits. He directed an unauthorized campsite on the farm. National Trust owns an adjacent property to the campsite.

Over a number of years, the Jesuits, have received complaints from both the local council and the National Trust about the unsocial behavior of several campers, especially in 2020.

This lead to him being evicted in July 2023, after a 15 years grace period given from the Jesuits to find a new home [1].

Local rumors had linked him with the tree felling, because of his former profession of lumberjack, and as revenge by been evicted from his home.

He said that he didn't do it. "It makes it sound like me, doesn't it, because it was a good cut. It was dark obviously but it was a lovely moonlit night... the cut was 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" [2].

Maybe it was him or maybe not, but he had the skills, the opportunity, and the motivation.

[1] https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1788020/Jesuits-evicting-t...

[2] https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/sycamore-gap-lumberjack-walter-re...

The term "sycamore" means different things depending on the continent. In North America when we say it we're talking about the American Sycamore, platanus occidentalis. In Asia and Europe it's actually a maple, acer pseudoplatanus, and the common name for it in the US is "sycamore maple". Unfortunately it's invasive in parts of the US, and it's not even native to England.

The good news is that there's a very high likelihood that the tree will push new growth from the stump and survive, though it probably won't ever be as healthy and majestic as it once was.

This is really disappointing. Truly, some people just want to watch the world burn...

Destruction is so easy, quick, and satisfying. It's why the simple minded find it so enjoyable. Creation is hard, and requires a thousand times the work. Fuck that.

What's the right punishment for a case like this? Does anyone believe that full rehabilitation is possible, and that a teenager who does this will later come to realize the error of their ways and become be a valuable contributor to society sufficient to make up for this? Or is the sole goal a punishment that will deter others from doing similar anti-social deeds?

Most likely yes - most young people do very stupid things for little other reason than lack of attention or simply anger angst the world.

Growing up, people oft realize that they themselves make that worse - or just continue to blame the world for everything.

Then again, some people do not gain any wisdom as they age - and live like they're 10 - forever.

The brain is done with myelenization at 25. The last area to be done, the prefrontal cortex, takes care of impulse control.

Remove each month some amount of money from his bank, so somebody is hired to plant, watch and care for some trees in an unknown protected location. Remove resources from the offenders and nurture the healers with this resources.

Repeat this procedure for the next 50 years of his life until the idea that boycotting nature for fun is not funny at all gets firmly established in their brain and he understands how much economical value has an old tree. Stop the chain of "crime school" challenges so we can protect children also. Use it as a clear warning for future criminals.

> What's the right punishment for a case like this?

Run a chainsaw through them at the same height as they ran it through the tree - no need for further punishment.

I find it hard to believe a 16yo can fell a big chunky tree all on his own - although I guess I don't know how powerful modern chainsaws are.

The height and weight distribution of late teenage males is quite smeary (https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/data/set2clinical/cj41c071....).

Eye-balling this, the 90th percentile 16 year old is about as tall as the 80th percentile 20 year old, and as heavy as the 75th percentile 20 year old.

Conversely, the 50th percentile 20 year old corresponds to like the ~55th percentile 16 year old in height and like the 75th percentile 16 year old in weight.

While true, this isn't the right way to analyze this. The right question is how much strength or size is necessary to operate a modern powerful chainsaw with a sharp chain. The answer is "not much". You need to be able to position a ~15 lb (7 kg) saw at waist height for a few seconds until each of three cuts is started. With a sharp saw, the forces are negligible after that for 2 of the 3 cuts required. With good technique, you can even use leverage against the trunk for the one short upward cut. There is considerable skill involved, but brute strength is not a requirement. While you are presuming a male 16-year-old here, I wouldn't be surprised if most female 14-year-olds were physically strong enough.

It would be easy, that tree is small compared to what I've seen the tree murderers get up to with redwoods.

It's sad to see.

A large old growth redwood tree near me, destination point of some popular hikes, was intentionally burned down recently.


Technically "the cause of the fire is unknown" but when there's a fire that burns down a single tree harming nothing around in the dense forest, it's pretty obviously intentional.

I wish I had more to say, but it seems like just meaningless destruction, from people who wish to meaninglessly destroy things.

Went there a few times, it was a beautiful tree in a beautiful landscape. It's sad to think I can no longer go see it again.

I'm sure you can do "tooth pattern CSI" on a chain saw cut to prove which chain saw made it.

You can do better than that, cleaning a saw to the point where there is no debris on it from a recent cut is pretty difficult. I'm fairly sure my saw still has bits on it from trees in Canada and that's 15 years ago. This tree is pretty unique, you're going to have a very hard time proving that bits found that match the tree are from any other tree that you may have cut, especially if you can't show where you did that.

Let's use some tree DNA to solve this case.

They'll probably have good idea if anyone rented or owns equipment too.

Sounds like the start of "The Wall", a series in which the remnants of a felled tree are found exactly over the border of England and Scotland, forcing an English and a Scottish detective to work together. The English one is a working mom with a deadbeat husband and a past of drug abuse, the Scottish one is an divorced, alcoholic middle-aged man with estranged children. Both have "come to grips with ..."

Free after https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bridge_(2011_TV_series)

What a pity. A wanton act of vandalism. Sycamore trees live up to about 400 years so the tree would have had at least a couple of hundred years more giving pleasure to those visiting the area and providing a home for wildlife.

Hopefully this vandal will be immortalised by the Internet for the next couple of hundred years too.

Most of modern Scotland was forest up until a fairly recent time. The felling of one tree is an instagram tragedy; the felling of one billion is an economic statistic.


It was bare enough for Boswell and Johnson on their famous tour of Scotland to remark on it. In 1773. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Journey_to_the_Western_Islan...

It has actually improved since the first world war, when there was large scale replanting of trees. For the rest of it, there remains a complex question: the moorland, as it is now, is an ecosystem in itself, and the main force preventing reforestation naturally is wild deer.

Right, so we can just completely ignore the symbolic/iconic importance.

I don't know why I've seen Instagram mentioned several times already but it's recognition as a place of significant natural beauty and featuring in all sorts of media was WELL before some stupid website of people sharing photos existed.

> we can just completely ignore the symbolic/iconic importance.

I think the person above was arguing for the opposite of this: Not that we should ignore this tragedy, but that we should more viscerally feel the extent of the greater tragedy and put energy into righting it.

The point is not that Instagram is the cause. It is the fact that upward movement in class worldwide has provided almost a billion extra people as tourists in just one generation, and the most commonly 'grammed locations tend to attract people that would not have otherwise learned about them.

Perspective on "fairly recent" from wiki:

> An examination of the earliest maps of Scotland suggests that the extent of the Caledonian Forest remnants has changed little since 1600.

"Recent" is always a funny thing. In my mind 1600 is roughly the start, or a little after the start, of the modern period, therefore recent.

Who was it that said "In Europe 100 miles is a long way, in America 100 years is a long time?"

That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer.


> Who was it that said "In Europe 100 miles is a long way, in America 100 years is a long time?"

In my experience, everyone on HN whenever the opportunity to quote it arises.

I love in the US when people boast their house was built in the 1800s. 1800s! In England I consider that fancy new construction.

But yes, it boggles peoples' minds in England when you travel more than a couple of hours by car to go anywhere. If I told a Brit I drove my car 2500 miles to L.A. on a whim they would have me institutionalized.

To be fair though, 1800 is a while ago, especially for wooden construction. But I've lived in a wooden house that was built in 1625 that probably was on it's fifth renovation by 1800. And it still stands today.

Pfft, in Italian terms 1625 is like, yesterday.

I got married in a church built in the IX century, half the central buildings in my hometown are from 1300-1400. And we're just nouveau riche compared to Roma.

It's not just Italy. For instance, I was married in a church built in the 10th century, in England.

Yes, Italy (and Greece too as well as parts of Croatia) are amazing in that way.

2500 miles from London puts you somewhere in central Asia. I found the following route, which is just shy of that distance: https://www.distance.to/London/Samara,Samara-Oblast,RUS It would be an amazing trip, but it would involve crossing many borders and going through some fairly dodgy countries. I think there is a reasonable case that no sane person would do that on a whim.

That's crazy when you see it like that. Furthest I ever made it by car from the UK was Hungary and that took me about 10 days!

I did that trip to LA in 2 days there, 2 days back. And my car radio didn't work :(

Thankfully, that is being (slowly) addressed. It's been particularly successful around Loch an Eilein, very nicely visible from the lake.

Ya know, if you're gonna illegally chop down a tree, at least steal the wood as well... Just saying...

Never commit two crimes at the same time.

Jaywalking and blasphemy.

Vandals don't give a damn about what they destroy. What a waste this.

Slightly related: I always get surprised by how "small" Hadrian wall is. I mean, it was just to demarcate tthe point where the barbarians "should not" cross I believe? For sure it wasn't working as a regular wall to stop any invasions.

The wall is nearly 2000 years old.

It used to be 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. [1]

Nearly everything else that old has fallen down to the foundations. It turns out nature is good at knocking stuff down till it's about a foot high, and then just leaves the footings of all the walls.

Plenty of castles and stuff have 1 foot high walls now.

Also, people steal the stones to build other stuff. But it's more effort to steal stones already buried in the ground.

[1]: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+high+was+hadrians+wall

Yeah , people take stones to clear land for farming or to build walls to enclose their farms.

Can't be too mad about it though, the wall was probably relatively new to them

Also historical preservation was less important to the people at the time when life was, frankly, much harder than it is today. Most well preserved buildings today are the ones that were useful to keep around - for their original or for a new purpose.

Roman ruins in post roman Britain must have looked almost magical.

It may have originally looked a bit more like the wall of Rindoon, County Roscommon, Ireland: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rindoon_Wall_28-10-2...

Rindoon is one of the most intact medieval villages (ruins). Thankfully it hasn't yet been vandalised, reconstructed or commercialised. As common for archaeological sites across Ireland, it is an amazing place to visit, particularly as you'd probably have it all to yourself to explore depending on season and day.

Dude, it's a ruin. It's like saying you're surprised most houses in archeological digs have no standing walls.

It was 3m thick and 4.2m tall with guard posts every 1/3rd mile. Seems like pretty significant defense to invasions.

... with each guard muttering to themselves "what a shite posting" (in Latin).

Even a 1 foot high wall is hard to sneakily move at night.

It's a marker on the ground of 'my territory' vs 'your territory'. If you catch someone the wrong side of it, they have no excuse of 'oh, I thought this was my land'.

This is a crime. A terrible senseless crime in a time of environmental destruction by mankind. What we need to do is take any seeds of this tree and plant 20-100 of its potential children in the area. We need to grind this tree up and make food and strengthen the soil for the future trees in the site.

Potentially we then need more cameras or tighter restrictions when it comes to visiting the site during off hours.

When a tree is felled it will take decades or centuries for a baby tree to offset the same amount of carbon per year. Therefore we need to make sure hundreds are planted with compost for the trees.

Can anyone with connections to site discuss with them or share ideas with the community?

I was with you until the cameras. But I'd be happy to contribute to a bounty to catch whoever did this. I have similar feelings for tourists that climb on monuments as well (or that scratch their names into them).

I wonder if medium range/resolution sonar or sound cameras [0] could be useful for low resolution tracking.

It would probably still be a bad idea

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_camera

Doesn’t need to be cameras. Tighter restrictions might be more practical during off hours.

It's on a public footpath. It's legally quite hard to stop people walking on those whenever they want to. Also, the land owner is the National Trust, and they don't tend to want to restrict access to open spaces like this. Also, there's not very much left there to vandalise now - you'd get more benefit by restricting access to the trees that are still standing elsewhere in the entire country, which is never going to happen.

Are you from the area? I was under the impression this place is a vast open field, surrounded by farm land. Can’t imagine how you would restrict access.

This tik tak videos are paying for themselves

I wonder how much we could bill for that wood

60 Yo man has been arrested it seems

this is just horrible news

> Supt Kevin Waring described the tree as "a world-renowned landmark"

This makes me think of David Foster Wallace, whom the world learned was a famous writer only after he died.

Wild guess:

Someone had a romantic photo taken with this tree, and someone else was determined to cut down the tree as a sign of the end of the relationship.

You are showing your Croydon roots.


It's just a tree, why should we care about it just because a random person planted a seed a hundred years ago?

Ah yes a member of the ever growing "why should I care about anything unless it personally effects me" crowd.

May as well proudly bear a tatoo of the word selfish on your forehead.

I imagine if someone chopped down a protected tree in an act of vandalism that you grew up seeing every day, carved your names in, or proposed under suddenly you would be filled with outrage after personally being effected.

Carving your name in a protected tree is an act of vandalism too, note.

wouldn't care, I know it's just a tree.

circle of life.

How about the fact that other people cared and were upset? You can dismiss a tree's feelings on account of it not having any. But are you dismissing the (presumably) genuine distress of multiple people?

There's more narrative here. Trees fall all the time. Someone who feels entitled to the level of reclusiveness of one small patch of Earth taking something away from all other humans does not happen all the time.

Why care about anything?

Yes, it's just a tree. A new tree can grow.

The Philistine instagrammers will be disappointed. So sad.

It's not a Roman tree.

A new tree literally grows (on) trees.

This is not about the instagrammers, it is about respect for heritage sites.

As someone reasonably local to this tree, I can tell you that everyone here is pissed off. The anger is fuck all to do with Instagram.

Depending on the tree, not in your lifetime it won’t.

I have a rather nice oak tree that shades my house and my lawn. If someone chops it down, I could plant a new one. It would take 80 years to reach a similar size.

For many species it takes much longer than that.

Can we say the same statement with human instead of tree?

Are you really comparing cutting down a tree to murdering a human being?

more or less, a tree is highly beneficial to the environment, it takes a long time to replace it (10+ years for that size, which is important for many other species, if only it manage to grow back), a human is not often beneficial on the other side

we could compare human and an insect even, or a human and a whale, it's not really about size

When I was a lifeguard as a kid, I once arrived at the pool to find thousands of flies dead, floating on the surface. I thought to myself, "If these flies were humans, this place would be a battlefield," and went on with skimming the pool.

this shows how lethal are humans with their "swimming pools", that's more my thought, not just directly with that water but all the plastic, energy and resources wasted

I truely love flies, many beautiful species in trees, extremely useful and evolved insect

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