A TREE expert from north Shropshire has voiced his 'devastation' following the loss of a famous tree of Hadrian's Wall which featured in a Hollywood blockbuster.

The iconic tree at Sycamore Gap in Northumberland achieved fame thanks to its prominent role in the 1991 film "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," featuring Kevin Costner.

But earlier this week it was cut down in what police are treating as an act of vandalism.

Rob McBride, a tree hunter based in Ellesmere, said he doesn’t know the reason why someone would do such a thing.

Rob, who has travelled the world as part of his tree investigations, said: “I found out while I was at Manchester Airport travelling to Belgium.

“I am devastated by what happened, and I don’t know why this happened, but we’ll find out through the investigation.”


The expert said that he has seen similar incidents happen in other parts of Europe and the UK.

Rob continued: “I have seen this happen for a while now, but just recently a developer took down a tree from my childhood, a 250-year-old oak.”

He added: “We need new laws, we need actions.

“This is not just an assault on trees but also on us – they are so important for our biodiversity.”

Rob admitted he has never visited the site - which is iconic to many and has been extensively photographed - but it was on his list.

He continued: "I didn't get to see it before this, it was on my list, but now I am interested in going around and counting the rings to get an accurate age [of the tree]."

An investigation into the apparent act of vandalism has been launched by Northumbria Police.

They believe that the tree was deliberately felled and have since arrested a 16-year-old male in connection to the incident.

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In a statement on social media channel X, a spokesperson from Northumbria Police said: “This afternoon, we've arrested a 16-year-old male in connection with the incident.

“He remains in police custody at this time and is assisting officers with their enquiries.

“Given our investigation remains at a very early stage, we are keeping an open mind.”

The officers are appealing for anyone with information to come forward as it could  ‘prove crucial’.

Superintendent Kevin Waring, of Northumbria Police, said: “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, we 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.

You can contact them via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of their website or by calling 101 quoting log NP-20230928-0295.