Police have been searching the house of a former lumberjack who was recently evicted from his property as they probe the felling of the iconic Sycamore Gap tree.
Specialist search teams descended on Walter Renwick’s farm today but the 69-year-old has denied rife accusations online that he was behind the shocking act of vandalism which has sparked fury across Britain.
The sycamore, which stood in a dip along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland for 300 years, had been one of the world’s most photographed trees until it was reduced to a stump overnight on Wednesday.
Northumbria Police announced yesterday that it had arrested a second man, in his 60s, just hours after a 16-year-old boy was bailed out of custody under investigation. The older man remains in custody for questioning.
As speculation mounts over who chopped down the tree which was famously featured in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mr Renwick revealed that even his own brother rushed to his home to find the truth.
Walter Renwick (pictured at his home), 69, who was recently evicted from his property, has dismissed rife accusations online that he was behind the shocking act of vandalism
The iconic Sycamore Gap tree was felled overnight on Wednesday, sparking fury across Britain
Police investigating the Sycamore Gap tree felling have been searching Mr Renwick’s property today
Mr Renwick revealed that even his own brother rushed to his home to find the truth. Pictured: Police at his home
The pensioner, who said he understood why he was being identified as a potential suspect, told The Sun: ‘I didn’t do it.’
He added: ‘I am a former lumberjack and I have just been kicked off my property, so I can see why people have pointed the finger.
‘My brother came down to make sure I hadn’t been arrested as he had heard the rumours. It’s very sad. It’s an iconic tree.’
Mr Renwick added that it was the ‘perfect night’ to commit the crime because there was a full moon which would have provided light and enough wind from Storm Agnes to mask the noise.
The pensioner was left heartbroken after losing a long-running battle to stay at his home which had been in the family for three generations.
He was kicked out on Thursday after the Jesuits in Britain, who own the land, fought to kick him out.
The search for the chainsaw-wielding suspect continued today and police vehicles and specialist search teams were seen scouring Mr Renwick’s farm.
It comes after it was reported that furious Northumbrians are convinced that the iconic tree was chopped down by someone holding a grudge against the National Trust.
The destruction of the sycamore has understandably caused anger, confusion and heartbreak among locals – and many believe the vandal was someone with an axe to grind.
Most are convinced that the stunning sycamore was felled by a local, likely a professional or someone with a grudge against the National Trust.
The sycamore, which stood in a dip along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland for 300 years, was one of the world’s most photographed trees – but it has now been reduced to a stump
The tree was made famous in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
The destruction of the sycamore has understandably caused anger, confusion and heartbreak among locals. Pictured: Mr Renwick, who denies cutting down the tree
Mr Renwick said: ‘I am a former lumberjack and I have just been kicked off my property, so I can see why people have pointed the finger.’ Pictured: Police at his home
Specialist search teams descended on his property as they try to crack the case of who felled the tree
As Britons try to solve who was able to fell the sycamore overnight, speculation is rife at the local pubs. The nearby Twice Brewed Inn has even offered a £1,500 bar tab to anyone who can help crack the case.
One boozer at the local pub told The Telegraph: ‘I heard it was a tenant farmer evicted from his land. He threatened he would cut down the tree.’
Another rumour swirling around the local community is that a National Trust worker who had been sacked in the morning stole a chainsaw and felling equipment, chopping the sycamore down as revenge.
A spokeswoman for the National Trust said: ‘We are not aware of any evidence for this. We ask everyone to assist the police and not add to rumour and speculation.’
The theory that the tree was chopped down with someone seeking revenge against the National Trust comes after reports emerged last night that detectives were probing whether it was felled as part of a TikTok stunt.
Forensic officers were seen taking photographs and samples at the scene yesterday as officers look to ascertain the full circumstances surrounding the damage and identify anyone involved.
Northumberland National Park and National Trust bosses are expected to hold discussions over the weekend over what to do with the felled sycamore.
The Telegraph reports that horticulturalists have raised the idea of helicoptering in a mature sycamore to take its place. Meanwhile Antony Gormley, the sculptor of The Angel of The North, is understood to be in discussions to create an artwork where the tree once stood tall.
Northumbria Police announced tonight that it a second man, in his 60s, has been arrested in connection with the felling of the tree at Sycamore Gap in Northumberland. Pictured: Forensic officers at the trees stump
Authorities said that Britain’s most famous tree was felled in what authorities called a ‘deliberate act of vandalism’
The Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall is seen on the ground yesterday after it was felled
It could also be turned into a giant totem pole, in a bid to keep tourists interested, or become a memorial carving, the Daily Express reported.
It comes as almost £3,000 was raised last night in a crowdfunding page to renovate the historic site.
The National Trust said it was ‘very grateful’ for the support of all those in the North East and further afield that made it clear ‘this tree was special to many, many people’.
Following last night’s arrests Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘The senseless destruction of what is undoubtedly a world-renowned landmark – and a local treasure – has quite rightly resulted in an outpour shock, horror and anger throughout the North East and further afield.
‘I hope this second arrest demonstrates just how seriously we’re taking this situation, and our ongoing commitment to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
‘Although another arrest has been made, this investigation is still in the early stages, and we would continue to encourage any members of the public with information which may assist to get in touch.
Over the decades the iconic view has become the backdrop for countless marriage proposals
An aerial view of the felled Sycamore Gap tree in the Northumberland National Park yesterday
Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland. Discussions are continuing to take place over what will replace the stump
‘If you’ve seen or heard anything suspicious that may be of interest to us – I’d implore you to contact us.
‘I’d also like to remind the public that this remains a live investigation so, for that reason, please avoid any speculation both in the community and on social media.
‘Any information – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – could prove absolutely crucial to our enquiries.’