It’s become an iconic image associated with Hadrian’s Wall and we’re very proud to care for the ‘Robin Hood’ tree.
The Sycamore tree is included within the six miles of Hadrian’s Wall that the National Trust cares for, with the help from members, donations and visitors.
It’s nestled perfectly in the ‘nick’ and does look very cool. However, what makes it really special is that its appearance is all down to geology happening over thousands of years.
The familiar gaps – as well as Rapishaw Gap and Milking Gap – along Hadrian’s Wall in the Whin Sill are essentially channels, naturally chipped away by vast amounts of meltwater flowing beneath the ice sheets that once covered the area.
This section of Hadrian’s Wall is quite telling as it informs us about the Romans and how intuitive they were when they constructed it many moons ago, staggering and layering the brickwork along the landscape. The Wall surrounding the gap shows it was repaired with lime mortar and the construction deposits sealed pottery datable to the late 2nd-century.
Though impressive as Hadrian’s Wall was, the Romans weren’t the only people to leave a mark on this landscape, evidence of a Bronze Age boundary wall lie a few hundred feet South of Sycamore Gap suggesting the area has been important throughout history and used long before the Romans ruled.
Various research carried out over the years tells us that there would have been more trees within proximity to the gap and that there could be numerous reasons for having them removed; game shooting, landscape views, or perhaps a clear vista to see anyone approaching.
The name does seem fairly obvious however, we’ve traced it back to a previous National Trust employee called Lawrence Hewer. Apparently, the ordinance survey team were making a visit to review the maps, at the time this particular spot didn’t have a name and when they asked the representative of the current land owner (National Trust) what to call it, Hewer replied, “Sycamore Gap”.
Nowadays, the tree has become something of a star. Most notably as the scene-stealer in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner, TV series Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Robson Green’s More Tales from Northumberland.
Although the National Trust cares for this stretch of Hadrian’s Wall with the help from members, donations and volunteers, it offers far reaching views across the gorgeous Northumberland National Park too. Two for one at its best.
Find out more on the National Trust website here.