The tree was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016.
The famous tree that stood guard over Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans in Britain for more than 200 years, was “deliberately felled” in what authorities described as an “act of vandalism”.
The sycamore tree, located in Northumberland National Park in northern England, became famous to millions around the world when it appeared in the 1991 Kevin Costner film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”
Police said they arrested a 16-year-old boy following the incident, which is believed to have occurred on Thursday night.
The tree – at a place known as Sycamore Gap – was located on the historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hadrian’s Wall, which was built around 1,900 years ago to protect the far northwestern border of the Roman Empire.
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The tree before it is cut.
Sycamore Gap is one of the most photographed trees in England and was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016.
The National Heritage Charity – which co-manages the site – said it was “shocked and saddened” by the tree being cut down.
Andrew Budd, general manager for the North East at the National Trust, said: “The tree has been an important and iconic feature of the landscape for almost 200 years and means a great deal to the local community and to anyone who has visited the site.”
The Northumberland National Park Authority said it was now “working with relevant agencies and partners interested in this iconic landmark in the North East”.
The national park urged visitors to stay away while the site is secured.
Police, who had previously said they were investigating what was believed to be a “deliberate act of sabotage,” said that a 16-year-old youth had been arrested in connection with the incident.
The sycamore tree, seen here in 2021, was a striking presence in the wild landscape surrounding Hadrian’s Wall.
He remains in police custody at this time and is assisting officers with their investigations, Northumbria Police posted on X, adding that “the investigation is still at a very early stage.”
Before the arrest, the police force described the tree as a “world-famous landmark”.
A statement from Northumbria Police said: “The vandalism has caused understandable shock and outrage throughout the local community and beyond.”
Police Superintendent Kevin Waring added: “This is a very sad day. The tree has been an iconic symbol of the North East and is enjoyed by many who live in this area or have visited.
“Anyone found responsible for this damage – which we believe to be a deliberate act of vandalism – can expect to be dealt with quickly and appropriately.”
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