The ancient, majestic tree, next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, was chopped down overnight on Wednesday in what “looks like a deliberate act of vandalism”, said the “incandescent” Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness.
In a statement, Northumbria Police said: “A 16-year-old male was arrested in connection with the incident. He has since been released on police bail, pending further inquiries.”
Sycamore Gap, thought to be around 300 years old, was made famous by actor Kevin Costner when it appeared in his 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, and was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016 in the Woodland Trust’s awards. It has become one of the most photographed trees in the UK.
As police officers searched the area, the tree’s destruction prompted an outpouring of anger and sorrow, from MPs, campaigners and the public alike.
Shadow Security Minister Dan Jarvis described the tree’s felling as a “senseless act of vandalism” and told of his hopes the culprit is caught, while the conservation charity Woodland Trust wrote of their devastation at the “truly irreplaceable loss” in a post retweeted by naturalist Chris Packham.