Teen arrested over ‘deliberate’ felling of Robin Hood tree

Centuries-old tree cut down

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in northern England after what has been labelled the “deliberate” felling of one of the nation’s most historic trees.

The famous tree at Sycamore Gap on the Roman landmark Hadrian’s Wall was nearly 200 years old when it was mysteriously cut down earlier this week.

Alison Hawkins, who was walking on the Hadrian’s Wall path, was one of the first to see the damage early on Thursday.

“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.”

Thousands of visitors each year walk along the wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that guarded the Roman Empire’s north-western frontier.

Many have paused to admire and photograph the tree, which stood near the village of Once Brewed in Northumberland. A beloved icon of the landscape, it was also known as “Robin Hood’s tree” after becoming famous when it appeared in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

Photographs from the scene on early Thursday (local time) showed that the tree was cut down near the base of its trunk, with the rest of it lying on its side.

Northumbria Police said the teen was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage. He was in police custody and assisting officers with their inquiries, the force said.

“The tree is a world-renowned landmark and the vandalism has caused understandable shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond,” police said.

“Given our investigation remains at a very early stage, we are keeping an open mind.”

Local superintendent Kevin Waring said it was “an incredibly sad day”.

“The tree was iconic to the north-east and enjoyed by so many who live in or who have visited this region,” he said.

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

The National Trust, which owns the land where the tree stood, said it was “shocked and saddened” to learn about what “appears to be an act of vandalism”.

“The tree has been an important and iconic feature in the landscape for nearly 200 years and means a lot to the local community and to anyone who has visited the site,” said Andrew Poad, the trust’s general manager for Hadrian’s Wall and Tyne Valley.

-with AAP

Topics: Britain
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