A 300-year-old landmark tree by Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, England was chopped down by suspected vandals on Sept. 28. The iconic tree gained its popularity and became known as “Robin Hood’s Tree” after it was featured in Kevin Costner’s 1991 action-adventure film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Hadrian’s Wall was constructed around 1,900 years ago to guard the Roman Empire’s northwest frontier, and Robin Hood’s Tree had sprouted nearby in a natural dip in the landscape. The National Trust, which looks after the site alongside the Park Authority, said they, along with Northumberland National Park, are considering future plans for the site and tree after its fall.
Why anyone would want to cut down one of England’s most iconic trees has left people across the United Kingdom baffled and angry. Robert Macfarlane, a British nature writer, told BBC Radio he was “sick to the core” to hear the news about the tree, which was “known and loved by millions.” Following centuries of industrialization and urbanization, in 2020 Britain was considered to be one of the most deforested countries in Europe.
The National Trust, which for more than 125 years has sought to protect England’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 suspect that it could never be the same.
National Trust Manager Andrew Poad previously said the stump was “healthy” and they may be able to coppice the tree, where new shoots grow from the trunk’s base. There is a sycamore sapling near the tree, which Northumberland National Park said was protected from local sheep by a circular wall. Efforts to find a culprit have provided few leads. Authorities first arrested a 16-year old boy, and several days later 69-year-old lumberjack Walter Renwick. Both were released on bail and there have been no further suspects found.