In a similar act of heritage vandalism to the one reported below in China, a retired businessman has been found guilty of causing unprecedented damage earlier this year to one of Britain’s ancient Neolithic sites. 73 year-old Roger Penny bought the Priddy Circles in Somerset as a ‘pension investment’. The Circles, which date to 3,000bce, are a Scheduled Ancient Monument and were probably built around the same time as Stonehenge. The Mail Online reports yesterday that –

They [the Priddy Circles] have been described by English Heritage as ‘probable Neolithic ritual or ceremonial monuments similar to a henge’. Penny hired two contractors to ‘tidy’ and renovate the area, near the village of Priddy on Somerset’s Mendip Hills, but failed to get permission from English Heritage. One contractor used rubble to fill swallet holes, natural holes inside the ring which may be the key to its creation. Moving a gate led to agricultural machinery driving through the circle, making ruts, the court heard. Penny, from Litton, Somerset, admitted causing or permitting works to a scheduled monument without consent. He was ordered to pay £37,000 for restoration work, fined £2,500 and told to pay costs of £7,500. Prosecutor David Maunder told Taunton Crown Court: ‘These circles are regarded as among a small group of the country’s most important prehistoric monuments, with enormous potential to inform us about the Neolithic period, and in archaeological terms are internationally significant.’

Full article here.