The famous Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian's Wall was cut down. Credit: Lee Smith/Reuters

London (CNN) -- A famous tree that has guarded Hadrian's Wall in Britain for more than 200 years has been "deliberately cut down" in what authorities have called an "act of vandalism."

The sycamore, located in Northumberland National Park in northern England, became famous to millions of people around the world when it was featured in Kevin Costner's 1991 blockbuster film "Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves."

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Police said they had arrested a 16-year-old boy following the incident, which is believed to have taken place on Thursday night.

The tree, in a place known as "Sycamore Gap," was situated on Hadrian's historic Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built some 1,900 years ago to protect the Roman Empire's farthest northwestern border.

The tree before being cut down. Credit: Andre Poling/ullstein bild/Getty Images

The Sycamore Gap sycamore was considered one of the most photographed trees in England and was recognised as the English Tree of the Year in 2016.

The charity National Trust, which runs the site, said it was "shocked and saddened" by the felling of the tree.


Andrew Poad, director general of the North East at the National Trust, said: "The tree has been an important and iconic element of the landscape for almost 200 years and means a lot to the local community and anyone who has visited the site.

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The Northumberland National Park Authority said it was now "working with relevant bodies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark".

The National Park urged visitors to stay away while security is restored at the site.

Police, who had previously stated they were investigating what was believed to be a "deliberate act of vandalism", said a 16-year-old had been detained in connection with the incident.

The sycamore, seen here in 2021, was a striking presence in the wild landscape around Hadrian's Wall. Credit: Kevin Taverner/CNN

He remains in police custody at this time and is assisting officers in their inquiries," Northumbria Police posted on X, adding that the "investigation is still at a very early stage."

Before the arrest, the police force described the tree as a "world-renowned landmark."

"The vandalism has caused understandable shock and anger throughout the local community and beyond," read a statement from Northumbria Police.

Superintendent Kevin Waring added, "It's an incredibly sad day. The tree was an icon of the Northeast and was enjoyed by many who live in or have visited this region."

"Anyone who is responsible for this damage, which we believe is a deliberate act of vandalism, can expect swift and appropriate punishment."