Police officers in the United Kingdom arrested a 16-year-old male in connection with the downing of the 300-year-old Sycamore Gap tree near the historic Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.
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Northumbria Police said although the teen was in custody, the incident was still under investigation, according to Thursday’s announcement on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
In a press release, authorities explained that the tree was cut down in the early morning hours of Sept. 28 by a person or persons using a chainsaw.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness called the incident “a deliberate act of vandalism” and said his department “will do their utmost to catch whoever is behind this terrible news.”
Tony Gates, the chief executive of Northumberland National Park Authority, said in a recorded statement that park staff, volunteers, partners, and visitors have all reached out to express sadness over the act.
“Regardless of all of that, what we have here is an incredible loss. A loss of an iconic landmark within Northumberland National Park,” Gates said, adding, “We all have very fond memories of Sycamore Gap.”
According to reports, the Sycamore Gap was extremely popular for film and photography. While it was named the 2016 tree of the year by the U.K. conservation group Woodland Trust, it was mostly known as the Robin Hood tree.
The Sycamore Gap tree was used as a backdrop for scenes in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.
Additionally, Hadrian’s Wall is listed as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire, which is a designated World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Northumbria Police Superintendent Kevin Waring said that investigators will consider using “every tactic” at their disposal for the investigation.
“Anyone found to have been responsible for this damage – which we believe to be a deliberate act of vandalism – can expect to be dealt with swiftly and appropriately,” Waring said.