LONDON – A 16-year-old boy was arrested Thursday in northern England in connection with what authorities described as the “deliberate” felling of an iconic tree that has stood for nearly 200 years next to the Roman landmark Hadrian's Wall.
Thousands of visitors each year walk along Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that guarded the northwestern border of the Roman Empire. Many paused to admire and take photos of the tree at Sycamore Gap, a beloved icon of the landscape made famous when it appeared in the 1991 Kevin Costner film. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Pictures taken from the scene early Thursday showed the tree was snapped near the base of its trunk, with the rest of it lying on its side.
Northumbria Police said the teenager was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage. Police said he was in police custody and assisting officers with their investigations.
“The tree is a world-famous landmark, and the vandalism has caused understandable shock and outrage throughout the local community and beyond,” police said in a statement.
File photo by Scott Heppell/AP
Police Inspector Kevin Waring said: “This is a very sad day. The tree was a symbol of the North East and was enjoyed by many who live in this area or who have visited.”
The Northumberland National Park Authority has asked the public not to visit the felled tree, which was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016.
Alison Hawkins, who was walking the Hadrian's Wall trail, was one of the first people to see the damage early Thursday.
“It was a real shock,” she said. “It's basically the iconic image that everyone wants to see. You can forgive nature for doing that, but you can't forgive that.”
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