MYSTERY surrounding the chopping down of a famous tree at Hadrian's Wall has deepened as clues suggest the felling was deliberate.

The Sycamore Gap tree, which featured in blockbuster Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves, was destroyed yesterday.

A 16-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage has now been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Speculation has continued to mount over why and how the tree was felled as it emerged the chopper struck in the dead of night.

Northumbria Police confirmed they are keeping an "open mind" as the investigation continues.

The Northumberland National Park authority is working with officers to unravel the riddle and believe it was "deliberately" cut down.

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We look at why the clues suggest the tree was intentionally targeted…

White paint mystery

It was at first assumed the 300-year-old Sycamore had fallen due to strong winds on Wednesday night.

But pictures emerged of the stump with what appeared to be white paint sprayed around the area where it had been sliced.

The National Trust, which owns most of the land on which adjacent Hadrian's Wall sits, noted the marking on the trunk.

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Andrew Poad, general manager of National Trust for Hadrian's Wall, told The Times this shows it "wasn't a spontaneous thing".

Was the tree-feller acting alone?

Social media has been quick to question if the feller could have acted alone.

The tree stood at a majestic 70ft in a dip on the wall and would have required muscle and specialist equipment to chop down cleanly.

Mr Poad believes it would have taken around half an hour for the Sycamore to be fully felled – a mean feat even for a professional.

As the person responsible under the cover of darkness, some have suggested a torch would have been needed to know where to cut.

This perhaps mean more than one person was involved as someone could have held a torch while the accomplice chopped.

The Sycamore also appears to have been cleanly sliced at the trunk – leaving behind a smooth stump.

Mike Pratt, chief executive of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, believes a professional was behind the vandalism.

He said: "It’s not a small tree, so it would have taken a lot of skill and equipment.

"It’s cleanly, professionally done. So someone was intent."

Windy night hid telltale sounds

Storm Agnes has been barrelling across Britain this week causing strong winds – with many originally blaming this for the damage.

But it's feared Wednesday night was chosen deliberately so the sound of the wind would mask the equipment used.



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Mr Poad said: "It would have been done in the night when nobody could hear the sound of the chainsaw because of the wind.

"But we just don’t know. You have to let the police carry out their work.”

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