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Teen arrested after felling of famous Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall

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The tree stood proudly for hundreds of years, set alone in a dramatic dip in the Northumberland, England, landscape right by Hadrian’s Wall. Perhaps England’s most-photographed tree, the Sycamore Gap tree drew visitors from afar and appeared in the 1991 film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”

Now it’s just a stump. The beloved tree’s centuries-old life came to an end in what authorities think was a deliberate act of vandalism. The Northumbria Police said Thursday that they had arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of felling the famous tree.

“People have had their ashes scattered there. People have proposed there. I’ve picnicked there with my wife and kids,” North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. “It’s part of our collective soul.”

Earlier Thursday, the Northumbria Police said in a statement that they had launched an investigation, vowing to bring those responsible to justice. The Northumberland National Park Authority asked the public not to visit the site in the meantime.

The fallen tree and stump were circled by police tape Thursday.

The Woodland Trust named the Sycamore Gap the English Tree of the Year in 2016. When night fell, the tree cast a striking silhouette against the horizon. It grew in a dip along Hadrian’s Wall, the 73-mile stone wall built in A.D. 122 by the Roman Army to mark the Roman Empire’s northwest frontier — a role it kept for three centuries, until the end of Roman rule on the island.

The National Trust, a U.K. heritage conservation charity that helped look after the tree, said it was “shocked and desperately saddened” by the news and was working to understand what happened and what can be done. “We know just how much this iconic tree is loved locally, nationally and by everyone who has visited,” the organization added.

The tree was believed to have been roughly 300 years old.



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