We can all remember doing questionable things when we were 16 years old. But one teenager allegedly made a massive blunder recently — which unfortunately caused reverberating ecological harm to the region of Northumberland in England.
The photos shared on the r/mildlyinfuriating Reddit forum show a large tree that had been very clearly cut down. Based on the photo of individuals standing underneath the tree when it was once standing, it’s clear that this was a major living monument for the area, and was identified as the Sycamore Gap Tree, which is famous enough that it has its own Wikipedia page.
So this isn’t just any tree. It was featured in the 1991 film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” and was named England’s Tree of the Year in 2016.
Based on the news reports and context shared in the comments section of the post, the tree was located in the north of England, in the county of Northumberland. The tree was identified to be close to 300 years old and an important landmark next to Hadrian’s Wall, another historical feature in the area.
The local police launched an investigation immediately after the cutting and arrested one 16-year-old suspect who was believed to have been behind the vandalism, and later arrested a 60-year-old man as well, while saying the investigation remains ongoing. According to the police, the sharp chainsaw marks on the tree suggest that the individual responsible was skilled in cutting down trees and knew what they were doing.
Tony Gates, the chief executive of the Northumberland National Park Authority, shared his thoughts to the Guardian about the tree destruction and his staff’s reaction to discovering the crime scene: “Everyone’s just in shock. It’s one of the most iconic landscapes in the country. When we feel that sense of loss, how do we perpetuate the legacy and create a real sense of meaningfulness?”
On October 1, the National Trust removed a sapling an area resident planted at the site in an effort that resident said was intended to “try and restore people’s faith in humanity.” The Guardian explained that it’s illegal to damage or change a UNESCO world heritage site, and so “the National Trust was keen to discourage any other would-be planters.”
Other Redditors were stunned by the history of the Sycamore Gap Tree and its unfortunate ending.
“This tree was planted in the early 18th century. Around 1710. Just imagine what this tree has lived through,” one commenter wrote.
“This [is] not mildly infuriating, it is heartbreaking and enraging,” said another Reddit user.
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