London — Britain's iconic Sycamore Gap tree, set in a dip in the ancient Hadrian's Wall in an otherwise treeless landscape, was chopped down Thursday in what police have called "a deliberate act of vandalism." A 16-year-old male was arrested and authorities appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
The famous tree was hundreds of years old and was already a beloved local landmark when it featured in the 1991 movie "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," with Kevin Costner climbing atop the ruins of the ancient Roman wall next to it to deliver a few lines.
In 2016, it was voted "English Tree of the Year."
The toppled tree was found laying over Hadrian's Wall on Thursday, with its bare stump showing the clean cut left by the vandal.
Local lawmaker Guy Opperman said it appeared the felling of the tree had been carried out by "someone very capable with a large chainsaw."
"A devastating day," Opperman said. "Everyone is just bereft."
"The tree is a world-renowned landmark and the events of today have caused significant shock, sadness and anger throughout the local community and beyond," the Northumbria Police said in a statement, vowing to bring anyone responsible to justice.
"I'm devastated that the famous Sycamore is gone. That tree was ours. It was an iconic North East landmark standing tall in our beautiful Northumberland," Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said Thursday. "I am incandescent that this looks like a deliberate act of vandalism."
Police say the 16-year-old, who was arrested later Thursday, was assisting officers with their inquiries. They said the investigation remained at an early stage and they were "keeping an open mind."
"We're appealing for anyone with information — no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – to let us know. It could prove crucial to our enquiries," the police said.
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