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Heritage group considering action over ancient circles

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: March 08, 2012

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Investigations into the damage to Priddy Circles on the Mendip hills have been completed.

A 72-year-old man has been released from police bail and the case has been passed to the jurisdiction of English Heritage who are expecting to decide what action, if any, to take in the next few weeks.

The Priddy Circles are one of the most important neolithic monuments in the country.

The circles, which are contemporary with the first stages of Stonehenge, are a scheduled monument.

One of them was damaged at some point between May 1 and June 23 last year and the damage to the circle outraged the archeological community.

There have been calls for the damaged sections to be reinstated by archeologists at the expense of those responsible.

If convicted those responsible could be fined anything up to £20,000.

They could also be jailed for up to six months and could have to pay to have it reinstated.

The circles could also be compulsorily purchased by the government in order to protect it.

Anyone accused of damaging a monument can say in their defence that they tried to protect the monument while carrying out work. They can also say that they had to carry out the work for safety reasons or did not know that the monument was within the area affected by the works or that it was a scheduled monument.

An English Heritage spokesman said: "A detailed investigation has been carried out by English Heritage in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police into the circumstances surrounding damage to one of the Priddy Circles.

"The evidence gathered in the course of the investigation is now with English Heritage to consider and a decision as to any further action will be taken in the near future."

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