Famous ‘Sycamore Gap’ tree cut down in ‘act of vandalism,’ teen arrested

The iconic Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland National Park in England was "deliberately" felled an "act of vandalism," according to local police on Sept. 28, 2023. Northumberland National Park Authourity & Owen Humphreys/PA via AP

Nature-lovers all over the world today are mourning the loss of the iconic ‘Sycamore Gap tree’ in the north of England, felled in what police said was “a deliberate act of vandalism.”

The Sycamore Gap tree, located next to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall, was estimated to be several hundred years old.

The iconic Sycamore Gap tree was “deliberately felled” in an apparent act of vandalism. Owen Humphreys/PA via AP

The tree is also sometimes called the ‘Robin Hood tree’ because it was prominently featured in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner.

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Early Thursday, officials announced that the beloved tree was knocked down overnight.

“We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled,” the Northumberland National Park Authority said in the statement.

Only hours after the tragic announcement, the Northumbria Police said they arrested an unnamed 16-year-old in connection to the felled tree. The teen, who is currently in custody, was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and is reportedly cooperating with authorities.

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Tony Gates, chief executive of the Northumberland National Park Authority, said the felling is “an incredible loss of an iconic landmark.”

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Gates recorded a video of himself standing beside the “sad scene” where the Sycamore Gap tree can be seen laying on its side.

“We’ve had some very sad staff, and volunteers and partners contact us today to say just how saddened they are by this act,” Gates continued. “I know most people watching this video will be equally sad.”

Gates said he hoped those who so loved the since-felled tree will find a way to continue to enjoy the countryside in the future, despite this major loss.

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The Northumberland National Park authority asked the public not to visit the felled tree, which was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016.

Alison Hawkins, who was walking on the Hadrian’s Wall path on Thursday, was one of the first people who saw the damage.

“It was a proper shock. It’s basically the iconic picture that everyone wants to see,” she said. “You can forgive nature doing it, but you can’t forgive that.”

Hawkins is not alone in her anger. Online, outrage over the felled tree has only been growing since news broke Thursday morning.

Jamie Driscoll, the mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority, said the Sycamore Gap tree was part of a “collective soul” for the area’s residents.

“People have had their ashes scattered there,” Driscoll wrote. “People have proposed there. I’ve picnicked there with my wife and kids. We must bring whoever did this to justice.”

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The investigation is ongoing.

The Sycamore Gap tree earned its name because it sat prominently in an opening in Hadrian’s Wall. The wall was built by the Roman Army after Emperor Hadrian visited the region in 122 A.D.

Northumberland National Park officials said over one million people have visited Hadrian’s Wall every year, many with specific intentions to see the famous tree.

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— With files from The Associated Press. 

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