Police on Friday released on bail a teenager suspected of cutting down one of the world’s most photographed trees.
The Sycamore Gap tree stood on a dip along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland for around 300 years was made famous by a key scene in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.
But rangers discovered the sycamore had been felled overnight on Thursday with a chainsaw.
Northumbria Police confirmed they had arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of causing criminal damage over a “deliberate” act of vandalism.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “A 16-year-old male was arrested in connection with the incident. He has since been released on police bail, pending further enquiries.”
Photographs showed the tree, which is in an isolated spot almost a mile from the nearest road, on its side with its trunk resting on the wall and surrounded by blue and white police tape. Spray paint could be seen just below the cut in the trunk.
News of the vandalism provoked fury and dismay from the public, walkers’ groups, environmentalists and politicians.
The National Trust said it was “shocked and saddened”.
Mary Foy, Labour MP for Durham, called the act “mindless vandalism” which had robbed many across the world “of a much loved, famous landmark in the North East”.
North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll said the perpetrator must be brought to justice, adding: “People have had their ashes scattered there.
“People have proposed there. I’ve picnicked there with my wife and kids. It’s part of our collective soul.”
Heritage minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay added: “Like everyone across the North East, and far beyond, I am heartbroken at the loss of this iconic part of our nation’s heritage.
“It is unfathomable that anyone would want to deny future generations the opportunity to have their lives enriched, as those of so many people from all over the world have been, by this breathtaking site.”