Photographers react to Britain's much-loved tree being chopped down at Sycamore Gap

Sycamore Gap
(Image credit: Chris George)

Photographers have been taking to social media to mourn the loss of the iconic Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian's Wall.

The 300-year-old tree was felled overnight in an act of vandalism. Known as Sycamore Gap, the tree's home was right next to Hadrian's Wall - a defensive structure built by the Roman's in Northumberland some 2000 years ago. Easily accessed, and visible from the main road, this is one of the most visited spots on the Wall. The tree even featured in the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves that starred Kevin Costner in 1991.

The amazing silhouette of the tree meant Sycamore Gap was a favorite spot for astrophotographers. This image of the Comet Neowise was taken in 2020. (Image credit: John Finney / Getty Images)

All day photographers have been taking to Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere to mourn the loss of the tree, to express their anger, to share their images of the location - or to rue that they never got to visit this photogenic location

"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 & spotting it!," comments portrait photographer Sarah Atkinson on Facebook. "The picnics with children under the tree & playing in the surrounds, the pride of what a beautiful Northumbrian focal point it was... like the Tyne Bridge, it was an instantly identifiable landmark that meant our North East, that meant Home."

Distant view of Sycamore Gap, from near the Roman fort of Vindolanda (Image credit: Future)

Digital Camera magazine on assignment at Sycamore Gap in 2009. Technique Editor Ed Godden shot the scene with a super-wide lens (Image credit: Future)

Author and photographer Gary Richardson commented "Heard the news this morning that some £$%%^^^& had cut the iconic tree down at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall, not sure how someone could even do such a thing, but they have It wasn't a location I photographed much, but have great memories from the times that I did."

We now know that a teenager has been arrested for the criminal damage inflicted by his chainsaw. But, whatever happens in terms of justice, the location will never be the same - and I am at least glad that I had an opportunity to photograph this legendary tree before it so needlessly destroyed. 

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 11 Pro.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.