MYSTERY surrounds why dozens of shoes have been hung from the branches of a tree in Basingstoke.

The shoes, which are mostly trainers, have been tied in pairs by their laces and flung over the branches of the tree next to the skate park, in War Memorial Park.

There are many different theories as to why people throw shoes to hang from trees, with some suggesting it indicates an area where drugs can be bought.

Basingstoke Gazette:

However, Hampshire Constabulary has said the tree in Basingstoke is more likely to be linked to skating culture because of its vicinity to the skate park.

A spokesperson for the police said they are aware of the tree adding: “We currently don’t have concerns about it but would always encourage the public to report anything suspicious to us. You can do this by calling 101 or online by visiting our website.”

The borough council has said it will be removing the shoes.

Councillor Simon Bound, cabinet member for communities, culture, and partnerships, said: “We have been made aware of a number of shoes hanging from a tree in War Memorial Park and we will be removing these. We have no intelligence to suggest these are connected with drug activity.”

In 2009, £265,000 of Lottery funding was spent trying to uncover the mystery of why people kept hanging shoes from the branches of an ash tree for almost 40 years in Buckinghamshire. 

Reasons put forward to explain the phenomenon included the culprits preparing for an alien invasion, perhaps thinking the visitors might have packed too light.

Others believed it was linked to a fertility ritual or form of toll payment for travellers.

However, the mystery was never resolved.

Since then, other theories about shoes hanging on trees have emerged, with the practice taking place in numerous areas.

Some suggest it signifies someone who has died, with the shoes belonging to the dead person, and when their spirt returns, it will walk high above the ground, closer to heaven.

Others believe it is done by bullies who steal a pair of shoes and put them in a place where they cannot be retrieved.

In some cultures, shoes are flung to commemorate the end of a school year, or a marriage.