A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Thursday after one of Britain’s most photographed trees was cut down in the north-east of England. The tree stood next to Hadrian’s Wall, a Unesco world heritage site, and the incident led to great anger and sadness.
The so-called Sycamore Gap tree gained worldwide fame when it was used for a scene in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner was used.
The plane tree, which the Woodland Trust named tree of the year in 2016, is a key attraction that has attracted millions of visitors over the years.
However, the tree, which has stood in the Northumberland national park for more than 200 years, was completely felled overnight.
The remaining log was found with white paint marks and appeared to have been accessed with a chainsaw, AFP reporters who visited the scene said.
The Northumbria Police, who are investigating the incident, say a teenager has been arrested on suspicion of causing the damage.
Superintendent Kevin Waring says the events have caused considerable shock, sadness and anger throughout the local community and even worldwide.
“Given that the investigation is still at a very early stage, we are keeping all possibilities in mind,” he says.
‘Deliberately cut down’
Tony Gates, chief executive of the Northumberland Park Authority, which manages the surrounding countryside, says it appears as if the tree was “deliberately felled”.
“It’s really sad that someone could get it over his heart to commit this terrible act of vandalism,” he told AFP at the scene.
“We cannot speculate at this stage as to why this was done.”
Gates says that he and volunteers at the national park “experience a real sense of loss and that many people were in tears over the news”.
“The tree meant a lot to people, many people got engaged here and held important family events here.
“Some people even scattered the ashes of their loved ones at this tree.
“I find it difficult to understand why someone would do something like that.”
Hadrian’s Wall is a world-famous landmark and was erected in 122 AD during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. It marked the border between Roman Britannia and unconquered Caledonia to the north.