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17 October 2007
Vandals target Long barrow in Lancashire

A 5,000 year old monument has been targeted by vandals in Lancashire (England). A prominent spiral-shaped design has been carved into the ancient Pike Stones - a long barrow burial chamber - on Anglezarke Moor in Chorley. United Utilities, who own the land on which the monument stands, claim it is one of the earliest man-made structures in the county.
     The Pike Stones are protected by law and it is an offence to deface them, a spokeswoman from English Heritage said. Dr Jennie Stopford, English Heritage's ancient monuments inspector, said: "Anyone defacing or the stones or the area around them is committing an offence. But, more importantly, they are also destroying the heritage of present and future communities."
     Vandalism of the Pike Stones has been a problem for many years according to Hazel Gannaway from United Utilities. "This carving in particular has made us fearful that the culprits may return to add further carvings and symbols in the near future," she said. What the carving actually means is a mystery.
     Peter Iles, Lancashire's county archaeologist, said: "Pike Stones is the only scheduled long barrow in the county and as such is of particular importance both to the present inhabitants of the county and to the understanding of this early period of our history. People who damage monuments like this are trying to impose their own beliefs and interpretation of the past on to others, as well as obscuring the intentions of the original builders."
     The Pike Stones, now in ruins, was once an impressive construction which featured five upright large stone slabs capped by two lintel slabs to form a burial chamber at one end of a long mound of earth and stones. The chamber was built on a ridge at a height of just over 900 feet which gave its builders excellent views over the Lancashire Plain, where it may well have served as a territorial marker or provided some spiritual protection or overview.

Sources: BBC News (11 October 2007), Bolton News (12 October 2007)

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