A world famous tree has been chopped down overnight in a ‘malicious act of vandalism’, sparking an outpouring of grief from devastated locals and nature lovers.
The Sycamore Gap, located in Northumberland along the site of Hadrian’s Wall, is perhaps most famous for featuring in the 1991 blockbuster film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
The iconic tree, which is believed to be 300 years old, was this morning found cut down, with its upper section lying across the historic Roman barrier.
Part of the tree appears to have been marked with white paint, indicating that someone may have felled it with a chainsaw.
Northumberland National Park Authority believe the it was deliberately chopped down.
The tree, located in a dramatic dip along Hadrian’s Wall in the Northumberland National Park, had become one of the most photographed in the country.
Northumberland National Park Authority believe the tree was deliberately chopped down
The iconic tree, which is believed to be 300 years old, was this morning found cut down, with its upper section lying across the historic Roman barrier
Part of the tree appears to have been marked with white paint, indicating that someone may have felled it with a chainsaw
The Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, featured in the 1991 blockbuster film ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ (pictured) starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman
People are being discouraged from visiting the spot while the hunt for clues goes on and the probe takes place.
The tree that stars couldn’t keep away from – and narrowly avoided being damaged in helicopter crash that could have killed Alan Titchmarsh
In 2003, the tree escaped damage when a helicopter that was filming documentary series British Isles – A Natural History crashed less than 100 feet away
Known to some as the Robin Hood Tree after its appearance in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film, Sycamore Gap is one of the most photographed trees in the country.
It stands next to Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland and is believed to have been planted in the early 18th Century.
It is said to have once stood alongside others but eventually became the only one left – making it especially photogenic.
In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the hero – played by Costner – is seen pulling leaves from the tree as he walks under it with the warrior Azeem, who is played by Morgan Freeman.
The tree also featured in the music video for American star Bryan Adams’ hit (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, which was the soundtrack for Costner’s Robin Hood film.
In 2003, the tree escaped damage when a helicopter that was filming documentary series British Isles – A Natural History crashed less than 100 feet away.
The four onboard the aircraft were injured, but presenter Alan Titchmarsh, who was standing on the ground, narrowly escaped harm.
Titchmarsh said at the time: ‘I was pretty shaken and I was worried the copter was going to explode. The crew scrambled out and ran like hell.’
An eyewitness added: ‘Alan Titchmarsh was very lucky not to be hit.
‘He was almost underneath the helicopter when it fell but jumped out of the way as it came down.
‘The aircraft landed on its side and everyone, including Alan, ran to help. Everyone was amazed the crew were not seriously hurt.’
A Northumberland National Park Authority spokesperson said: ‘Northumberland National Park Authority can confirm that sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down over night. We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled.
‘We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark and will issue more details once they are known.’
The spokesperson added: ‘It is not clear currently whether the tree is a victim of Storm Agnes or it is a deliberate act – though pictures indicate a clean and straight cut.’
Matt Brown, 37, of the Twice Brewed Brew Company nearby, was one of the first at the scene.
Mr Brown said: ‘I was brewing when I heard a rumour that the tree at Sycamore Gap had been cut down and ran over to see what had happened.
‘It was a quite a shock to see it lying there, that tree is a real icon and to those of us who were born in this area it really means something.
‘It was certainly cut down with a chainsaw – and a big one. It looks as though it has been cut through with one stroke which means the blade must have been about two metres long.
‘It was done overnight and seems to be a thought out and planned act. But why anyone would choose to do such a thing is beyond me.
‘There can’t be anyone with such an issue against that particular tree that they walk a mile at night to go and saw it down, it’s an act of malice but can only be for malice’s sake.
‘The tree can be seen from the old military road that passes by but to access it you have to climb over barbed wire and walk through marshy ground for a mile.
‘I noticed also that the trunk had been marked at the spot where the cut was going to be made.
‘This is someone who knows how to fell trees and made sure it toppled in the right direction, but it’s hard to fathom why anyone would do this.
‘I was speaking to a Canadian lady only yesterday who had come to this spot specifically to see the Sycamore Gap tree, it is an icon and something particularly special to the brewery.
‘Our signature ale is called Sycamore Gap and the tree is our logo. It’s genuinely hard to believe that this has happened.
The Sycamore Gap was voted English Tree of the Year in 2016 in the Woodland Trust’s awards and is much-loved by people from across the world.
‘Northumberland National Park Authority would like to ask the public not to visit the site at this time whilst we work with our partners to identify what has happened and to make the site safe.’
A Northumbria Police spokesman said today: ‘A full investigation has been launched after the Sycamore Gap Tree was felled overnight in what officers believe to be a deliberate act of vandalism.
‘A range of enquiries are now ongoing, with the support of partners, as police look to ascertain the full circumstances surrounding the damage and identify those involved.
‘The tree is a world-renowned landmark and the vandalism has caused understandable shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond.’
Superintendent Kevin Waring added: ‘This is 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.
‘As a Force, are fully committed to finding out the full circumstances and we will consider every tactic at our disposal in this 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.
‘I would ask anyone who saw anything suspicious or knows anything that can assist our investigation to get in touch with us.’
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness also expressed her sadness, writing on X: ‘I’m devastated that the famous Sycamore is gone. I am incandescent that this looks like a deliberate act of vandalism.
‘That tree was ours. An iconic North East landmark. @northumbriapol are at the scene and I’ll be raising this personally today.’
On land owned by the National Trust, it is also known as the Robin Hood Tree because it featured in a scene in the 1991 film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.
It appeared in the music video for Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do, I Do It for You which featured on the film’s soundtrack and topped the charts for several months.
This morning the iconic tree, which is believed to be a few hundred years old, was discovered lying next to the Roman Wall
The Sycamore Gap, cut down last night, is pictured here in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner
The beloved tree features in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Freeman and Costner and a scene is pictured here
People look at the tree at Sycamore Gap, next to Hadrian’s Wall, in Northumberland which has come down overnight after being ‘deliberately felled’
An undated picture of the tree at Sycamore Gap, at Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough, Northumberland, taken showing the Northern Lights
Pictured: The Sycamore Gap tree before it was chopped down
Morgan Freeman and Kevin Costner are pictured in a scene with the beloved Sycamore Gap tree for the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Farmer Katie Smith, 25, said she spotted the tree on its side as she passed it on her way to work this morning.
She said: ‘I drive passed the tree twice a day and I always look up at it but today I just saw it was gone.
‘Pictures taken of it look like someone has deliberately sawed it down. It’s an absolute tragedy. No one can believe it has been cut down.
‘There was a storm last night but it’s withstood worse. There is no way this is not vandalism. People around here are shocked.’
Andrew Benton, 45, added: ‘I’m outraged that someone has done this to such a beautiful tree. What the hell is the world coming to?’
People on social media have expressed their upset and anger at the felling.
One person wrote: ‘I’m almost lost for words this morning on hearing that the beautiful sycamore tree at Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall has been deliberately felled overnight.
The stunning tree is on Hadrian’s wall world heritage site and attracts many tourists
The Sycamore Gap tree is one of the most photographed in the country. Overnight it was chopped down, with many people devastated
Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, was made famous in the 1991 blockbuster film ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness also expressed her sadness, writing on X: ‘I’m devastated that the famous Sycamore is gone’
An account called North East Tweets said: ‘ Those who cut down the Sycamore Gap tree, have committed an act of great cruelty’
‘What an absolutely disgusting act of mindless vandalism.’
While another said: ‘Somebody has taken a chainsaw to the one of our nation’s most beautiful sights. The Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall Path – Northumberland.
‘It was also the star of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Utterly appalling, police are investigating.’
An account called North East Tweets said: ‘Those who cut down the Sycamore Gap tree, have committed an act of great cruelty.
‘They have shown no regard for nature’s grace, and left a scar upon this sacred place.
‘Let those who cut down the sycamore tree, beware the wrath of nature, wild and free. For their evil deed will not be forgotten.’