Police officers have arrested a further two people as part of their investigation into the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall.
Two men in their 30s were arrested on Tuesday, Northumbria Police confirmed today. They have since been released on bail.
The tree in Northumberland, believed to have been about 300 years old, was cut down overnight between September 27 and 28 in what police believe was a deliberate act of vandalism.
Detective Chief Inspector Rebecca Fenney-Menzies, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘The loss of Sycamore Gap has been felt deeply across the community as well as further afield.
The tree was felled overnight on September 27 and is thought to have been more than 300 years old
There is hope the tree might grow back, and its stump is being left in place
‘As a force, we have seen many touching tributes from those who have detailed what this iconic landmark meant for them personally and for our region.
‘We’ve been working tirelessly to identify anyone responsible and bring them into police custody and we are committed to getting justice.
‘I hope this recent wave of arrests demonstrates just how much work has been undertaken by our dedicated specialist teams in what has, so far, been a very difficult and complex investigation.’
For the time being the stump is being kept in place and is behind a protective barrier because it could generate new shoots. Plans will be made to keep grazing sheep off the stump, allowing any shoots which emerge to grow.
The much-photographed and painted lone sycamore, an emblem for the north east of England, was situated in a dramatic dip in the Northumberland landscape before it was felled overnight on September 27.
The tree was thought to have been planted by Newcastle philanthropist and lawyer John Clayton in the second half of the 19th century.
Mr Clayton was a keen excavator of Hadrian’s Wall and was thought to have planted the tree to fill the dip on landscape which was created by glacial meltwater.
In recent weeks the chopped down remnants of the tree have been removed from the site.
The tree was one of the most iconic photo hotspots in the UK
It is thought a memorial bench or other marker could be placed at the site of the tree to recognise its former location.
The Sycamore Gap was one of the most photographed places in the UK and has previously featured in blockbuster movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Since it was felled, National Trust bosses have said the vandals actually prolonged its life.
Andrew Poad, the general manager of the Roman heritage site for the National Trust, said: ‘Effectively, what the perpetrator has done is coppice the tree. So ironically they have prolonged the life of the tree.’
He added that the tree will not look the same, but he is confident the stump will regrow, which is typical of sycamores.
This is a breaking news story and is being updated.