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10 April 2004
Rollrights stone circle vandalised (updated)

On March 31 vandals splattered bright yellow gloss paint over the entire ring of stones at The Rollrights in Oxfordshire. The damage was discovered by a member of a geo-physics team arriving for work on the site. Every single stone is splattered both sides, paint splodges vary from 2"-4" and in long lines. Paint is also deep inside the holes in the stones.
     The local police took samples and did mention that letting the cost of clean-up being made public would help in getting someone to finger the culprits. Both BBC and Central news have covered the item and local press and a joint English Heritage & Rollright Trust Press Release will be issued. EH have been informed and are talking to NT about methods used at Avebury for previous paint vandalism.
     The attack at the 5,000-year-old Rollright Stones has been condemned by secular guardians English Heritage, which estimates that the cost of removing the yellow gloss paint could be anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 (corresponding to a sum between 55,000-180,000 US Dollars or 45,000-150,000 Euros). According to the organisation's experts, it will take two or three people working five days a week for 25 weeks to clean the stones.
     In addition to their archaeological significance, the stones also have very precious colonies of lichens on them, some of which have almost certainly been killed by the paint. One of the country's leading experts on lichens, Dr Vanessa Winchester of Oxford University, said the plants told the life of the stones over the past 300 to 400 years. "The stone is Oolitic limestone and easy to damage," said Dr Winchester, "There are lichens at this site that are among the oldest colonies in the country." She has asked that the largest patches of the 29 species of lichen on the stones remain untouched. "It won't kill the whole patch, but it will leave a scar," said Dr Winchester.
     Karin Attwood, a white witch and Rollright Stones Trustee, said whoever carried out the vandalism may live to regret their actions because a number of witch friends have now put a curse on them. Ms Atwood, spokeswoman for the Pagan Federation, said the federation has offered a 1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.

Sources: Stones Mailing List (1-2 April 2004), Western Daily Press (10 April 2004)

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