Police in the United Kingdom made their second arrest over the cutting down of an ancient tree that stood for hundreds of years near the Roman landmark of Hadrian’s Wall in the northeast of England – an apparent act of vandalism that has shocked the UK.
Hours after a 16-year-old was freed on bail, Northumbria Police said on Friday that a man in his 60s was arrested and is being questioned in custody for what detectives described as a “deliberate act of vandalism”.
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“The senseless destruction of what is undoubtedly a world-renowned landmark, and a local treasure, has quite rightly resulted in an outpouring of shock, horror and anger throughout the North East and further afield,” Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies said.
“I hope this second arrest demonstrates just how seriously we’re taking this situation, and our ongoing commitment to find those responsible and bring them to justice,” she added.
Police said their investigation is ongoing and have appealed to the public for any further information regarding the felling of the tree.
“Any information – no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be – could prove absolutely crucial to our enquiries,” the force said on social media.
A full investigation was launched after the Sycamore Gap Tree was felled overnight between Wednesday & Thursday in what we believe was a deliberate act of vandalism. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/yFUnAmMLI6
— Northumbria Police (@northumbriapol) September 29, 2023
Why anyone would want to cut down one of England’s most iconic trees has left people across the UK baffled and angry.
Following centuries of industrialisation and urbanisation, Britain is considered to be one of the most deforested countries in Europe.
The tree was one of the main landmarks along Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built nearly 2,000 years ago when Britain was part of the Roman Empire to guard its northwestern frontier.
For generations, walkers have paused to admire and photograph the tree at Sycamore Gap, which was made famous when it appeared in Kevin Costner’s 1991 film, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.
The National Trust, which for more than 125 years has sought to protect the country’s heritage and natural landscapes, said it is currently “making the site safe, and helping staff and the community come to terms with the news”.
The tree, which was cut down near the base of its trunk, could grow again, experts said, though they cautioned that it would never be the same.
“It’s worth a try,” said Rob Ternent, head gardener at The Alnwick Garden nearby. “It’ll be very difficult to get it back to the original tree,” he said.
“It was about 300 years old, so it’ll take a long time to get back to that size,” he added.