A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, after one of the UK's most famous and photographed trees is believed to have been purposefully cut down overnight.
The Sycamore Gap tree sat right by Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland National Park, nestled in a dip directly between two hills - making it a popular landmark for local walkers and visitors alike. Its fame came, in part, from actor Kevin Costner, when it appeared in his 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. It was also voted the Woodland Trusts' Tree of the Year in 2016.
Northumbria Police began investigating after pictures emerged on Thursday morning (28 September) of the tree lying on its side by the wall. The region's police commissioner Kim McGuinness said she was “incandescent” with rage at the news, and officers would “do their utmost to catch whoever is behind this”.
On Thursday afternoon, the force said a 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage in connection with the tree's felling, and was taken into custody. “This is a world-renowned landmark and the events of today have caused significant shock, sadness and anger throughout the local community and beyond," Superintendent Kevin Waring added.
“An investigation was immediately launched following this vandalism, and this afternoon we have arrested one suspect in connection with our enquiries, he continued.
“Given our investigation remains at a very early stage, we are keeping an open mind. I am appealing to the public for information to assist us – if you have seen or heard anything suspicious that may be of interest to us, please let us know.”
The Northumberland National Park Authority told PA on Thursday morning: "(We) can confirm that sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down over night. We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled.
“We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark and will issue more details once they are known.”
The National Trust - which looks after the tree alongside the National Park Authority - said it was “shocked and saddened” that the “iconic” tree had been cut down in the UNESCO World Heritage site.
“We are deeply shocked at what appears to be an act of vandalism," general manager Andrew Poad told PA. “The tree has been an important and iconic feature in the landscape for nearly 200 years and means a lot to the local community and to anyone who has visited the site.”
The news was met with heartbreak and outrage on social media, especially by those who had photographed it in all of its glory over the years.
One person, who had photographed it with the Northern Lights dancing above it, wrote on X - formerly known as Twitter: "I cant even begin to describe how sad I am that the most beautiful and famous tree in England Sycamore Gap has either been cut down or blew down. I am pretty devastated that the place I love most in Northumberland is essentially no more."
Another photographer wrote they were "absolutely disgusted" to hear someone had "chainsawed down" the Sycamore Gap tree. "I literally cannot understand why someone would do something like that."