Damage to ancient Somerset monuments

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 July 2011 | UPDATED: 09:20 18 July 2011

An aerial photo showing the damage to one of the Priddy Circles

An aerial photo showing the damage to one of the Priddy Circles

Submitted

ANCIENT monuments which have existed in Somerset for thousands of years may have been irreparably damaged.

The Priddy Circles, a series of Neolithic earthworks in the village of Priddy, near Draycott, look to have suffered extensive damage after part of the site was bulldozed.

English Heritage and Somerset County Council have launched a joint investigation into the incident, which is punishable under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.

The earthworks, which sit on the Mendip Hills, are thought to be ritual or burial monuments which were created at around the same time as Stone Henge between 2500 and 2180 BC.

More than a third of one of southernmost of the Bronze Age circles has been completely destroyed.

Blagdon-based archaeology enthusiast Siobhan Watson said: “The monuments are priceless in terms of heritage value, the thing is once they’re damaged, there’s no way to properly restore them.

“Even if it could be restored there wouldn’t be anything left of archaeological value - and the southernmost one which has been damaged was the one which was in the best condition.

“That’s why it’s so important that sites like the Priddy Circles must be protected, they’ve been there for such a long time it would be a huge shame to see them go like this.”

A spokesman for English Heritage said: “We are aware of damage to the Priddy Circles in Somerset – a series of four large Neolithic henge monuments – and we are currently investigating the matter which includes an assessment of the harm caused to the monument through an archaeological assessment.

“It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a scheduled monument without scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State.

“It is also a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage a scheduled monument without lawful excuse.”

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