A 1,000-year-old tree 'mysteriously uprooted' week after Sycamore Gap

Fury as 1,000-year-old tree dating back to Battle of Hastings ‘is mysteriously uprooted’ in suspected felling – a week after Sycamore Gap Tree was cut down

Locals are outraged after a 1,000-year-old tree which dates back to the Battle of Hastings was mysteriously uprooted in a ‘suspected felling’ – just a week after Sycamore Gap Tree was cut down.

The 40ft yew tree stood in a privately owned field near Uckham Lane, Battle, a mile from Senlac Hill. 

Speculation has mounted about how it had been toppled, with some suggesting the tree was deliberately cut down while others say it could have toppled due to recent strong winds.

One local even suggested the roots of the tree were rotting, meaning that the yew tree would have been unstable. 

It comes just a week after the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. The sycamore – which had featured in the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves movie – had been one of the world’s most photographed trees until it was reduced to a stump.

The 40ft yew tree stood in a privately owned field near Uckham Lane, Battle

Stephen White, who lives near Battle, said the tree was an important ‘ancient monument’. Paul Lawrence, 51, told the Argus how the tree meant a lot to him because he had spread his grandfather’s ashes there. He added that he had a ‘personal connection’ to the yew tree. Rother District Council said it cannot comment as the tree was on private land.

READ MORE – Vandals who felled the Sycamore Gap tree damaged Hadrian’s Wall, investigators say 

Many trees of that age are protected by Tree Preservation Orders, which prohibit cutting down, felling or causing willful damage to specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands.

The yew tree was just a few miles away from the Crowhurst Yew, which stands in St George’s churchyard.

The yew is one of the longest-lived native species in Europe and is steeped in folklore. Yew trees are associated with churchyards and there are at least 500 churchyards in England which contain yew trees older than the buildings themselves.

It comes after investigators found vandals who felled the Sycamore Gap tree caused damage to Hadrian’s Wall.

The Unesco world heritage site which stretches 73 miles across Northern England has sustained damage as a result of the Sycamore Gap tree falling over it.

A former lumberjack and a 16-year-old boy were arrested and released on bail by police on suspicion of criminal damage after the tree 15 miles west of Hexham, Northumberland, was felled overnight last Wednesday.

Detectives are now looking at charges for felling the tree without consent and potentially for causing damage to a heritage site – Hadrian’s Wall – which could bring harsher sentences.

According to The Times, the findings came after preservation body Historic England sent a heritage crime specialist to assess the scene.

tForensic investigators from Northumbria Police examine the felled Sycamore Gap tree

The felled Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland

A spokesman said that the preliminary investigation found the 1,900-year-old wall, which is one of the first British sites to be listed as a Unesco world heritage site, had sustained ‘some damage’.

She said a full archaeological evaluation is yet to be carried out, with the tree still not removed from the scene.

She added: ‘We appreciate how strongly people feel about the loss of the tree, and its impact on this special historic landscape, and will continue to work closely with others as this progresses.’

Northumbria Police met with representatives from Historic England, the National Trust, Northumberland National Park Authority, and Forestry England this week in relation to the investigation.

Superintendent Andy Huddleston, who heads the National Rural Crime Unit which was formed this year, said such incidents were ‘exceptionally rare’ and that officers had to draw on the expertise of conservation and wildlife groups.

He said: ‘The lack of witnesses and CCTV is also a challenge when dealing with rural crime, which can make it much harder to investigate than urban crime.

‘I have every confidence though that Northumbria Police will find the culprit of this callous crime.’

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