“The vandals were understandably shocked and outraged by the local community and beyond,” a statement from Northumbria Police said.
Britain’s iconic Sycamore Gap tree, which stood for over 200 years, was “deliberately felled” in what authorities have called an “act of vandalism.”
The tree was located in a gap on the historic UNESCO World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall, which was built around 1,900 years ago to guard the furthest northwestern frontier of the Roman Empire.
The famous tree was already a beloved local landmark when it was featured in the 1991 movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Sycamore Gap was one of the most photographed trees in England and was voted as the English Tree of the Year in 2016.
The National Trust heritage charity, which co-manages the site, said it was “shocked and saddened” by the tree’s felling.
“The tree has been an important and iconic feature in the landscape for almost 200 years and means a lot to the local community and to anyone who has visited the site,” said Andrew Poad, north east general manager at the National Trust.
The Northumberland National Park Authority urged visitors to stay away while the site was being made safe and said it was now “working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark.”