Former child actor turned personal trainer who hid up the 300-year-old Sycamore Gap Tree in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves pays tribute to the fallen landmark

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  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

  • Daniel Newman was 15 when he played Wulf in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • His main scene took place at the iconic Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland 

The former child actor who introduced film fans to the 300-year-old Sycamore Gap Tree in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves has spoken of his sadness that it’s been chopped down in a wanton act of vandalism.

Daniel Newman was 15 when he played Wulf in Kevin Costner blockbuster, who sought refuge in the tree’s boughs after being chased by the Sheriff of Nottingham’s deerhounds.

It was the first glimpse of the tree in the 1991 classic and was the catalyst for it becoming a major tourist attraction for visitors who had previously come to see Hadrian’s Wall.

Newman, now 47, runs a personal training company in Wimbledon and has left acting behind, but had fond memories of shooting in Northumberland.

Former child actor Daniel Newman, pictured, has expressed his sadness after discovering the tree where he had his biggest acting highlight had been cut down overnight

Former child actor Daniel Newman, pictured, has expressed his sadness after discovering the tree where he had his biggest acting highlight had been cut down overnight 

Newman played Wulf in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when he was aged 15. He said the Sycamore Gap tree was a magical place

Newman played Wulf in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, when he was aged 15. He said the Sycamore Gap tree was a magical place 

He said: ‘It was very sad to hear that the tree had been felled.

‘I think people chose that location for the filming very well. Right across the UK there will be people who were really in love with that movie.

‘So not just in the north but all over the country people will be so sad that it has gone.’

Newman’s character was being pursued by soldiers with dogs for stealing the Sheriff’s livestock to feed his starving family when he was rescued by Costner’s Robin of Loxley.

In the scene his pursuers take out axes to cut down the Sycamore Gap tree that Wulf is hiding in before they’re dispatched by Robin Hood and Azeem, played by Morgan Freeman.

Newman said: ‘I think that image at Sycamore Gap always had such an uplifting feel good feeling whenever people saw it.

He said: 'It is so sad that something senseless was done , though anyone who acts so harmfully has perhaps a story to tell themselves that led them to such a harmful act'

He said: ‘It is so sad that something senseless was done , though anyone who acts so harmfully has perhaps a story to tell themselves that led them to such a harmful act’

‘It’s a perfect composition – that tree sitting between those hills and the wall. It was beautiful and pèrfect as an image alone without the movie to bring it to world attention.

‘It looks amazing in the many ways it’s been shown under stars, in silhouette and twilight – of course for so many it’s the Robin Hood movie that brought it to their attention.

‘I fondly remember filming Robin Hood there. It was the first day of filming of what would be a magical experience that shaped my life for a long time.

‘For whatever reason so many people loved the place and also that scene where they rescue the boy from oppression only for him to cheekily admit he had hunted “hundreds of ‘em” (Nottingham’s deer)

‘The movie and the place will always be iconic.

‘It is so sad that something senseless was done , though anyone who acts so harmfully has perhaps a story to tell themselves that led them to such a harmful act.

Northumbria Police have been examining the crime scene in a search for evidence

Northumbria Police have been examining the crime scene in a search for evidence

‘It’s quite uplifting that so many people care so much and have reacted so appalled as they have – this demonstrates not just the wonder that it was but the wonder of the population at large to have such deep feeling and appreciation for an ancient beauty.

‘It’s a sad and senseless event but reveals a deep public spirit of appreciation of beauty.’

READ MORE: Who cut down the Sycamore tree?

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Critics always panned the fact that Robin Hood was seen landing at Dover – and then arrived in Northumberland seemingly minutes later.

Newman said: ‘It was often criticised that the site was clearly nowhere near Dover to those who know it.

‘And yet doesn’t the love and appreciation for the beauty of this spot show that the movie makers were right to use it after all , aren’t we glad they did – to make the scenes they did and share it with the world.’

The police investigation into who toppled the tree during darkness on Wednesday night or Thursday morning is continuing.

A 16-year-old boy arrested on Thursday was released on bail pending further enquiries, Northumbria Police revealed.

The sycamore was nicknamed Robin Hood’s Tree because it was the movie’s most memorable location.

Part of the Hadrian’s Wall Unesco world heritage site, it has drawn walkers and visitors from all over the globe and in 2016 it was named Tree of the Year by the Woodland Trust.

On Thursday morning rangers discovered that the tree – which is thought to have been planted in the early 1700s – had been felled overnight.

Photographs showed the sycamore, which is in an isolated spot almost a mile from the nearest road, on its side with its trunk resting on the wall and surrounded by blue and white police tape. Spray paint could be seen just below the cut in the trunk.

Mary Foy, Labour MP for Durham, said: ‘This is a heartbreaking act of mindless vandalism of a much loved, famous landmark in the North East.

National Trust Rangers have carried away seeds and branches from the tree in a hope that they can be planted elsewhere

National Trust Rangers have carried away seeds and branches from the tree in a hope that they can be planted elsewhere 

‘A very sad day which will upset so many people around the country – and across the world.’

Si King, the TV cook and Hairy Biker, posted a video online accusing the ‘warped’ culprit of ‘murdering a sentinel of time and an elemental spirit of Northumberland’.

Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne mayor, said the perpetrator must be brought to justice, adding: ‘People have had their ashes scattered there.

‘People have proposed there. I’ve picnicked there with my wife and kids. It’s part of our collective soul.’

A spokesman for Northumberland National Park said: ‘Sadly, the famous tree at Sycamore Gap has come down overnight.

‘We have reason to believe it has been deliberately felled. We are working with the relevant agencies and partners with an interest in this iconic North East landmark.’

Officials warned against visiting the site, near Crag Lough, but walkers still gathered to see the destruction for themselves. 

One woman laid a single pink rose close to the stump.




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