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8 April 2013
Ancient Cornish monument threatened by cattle

Men-an-Tol, one of Cornwall's most famous archaeological landmarks, is being threatened by grazing cattle permitted by the Government's environment watchdog, campaigners have warned. The Bronze Age stone monument has stood near Morvah for up to 4,500 years, it is listed as a scheduled monument with English Heritage, but campaigners fear it is now being damaged by cattle introduced onto the heathland under a Natural England agri-environmental scheme.
     Ian McNeil Cooke, of the Save Penwith Moors action group, said: "On one of my recent, regular walks from my studio about half a mile away, I noticed cattle hair on the holed stone with hoof prints in the churned up ground surrounding all three stones. It is obvious that the cattle had been using the stones as convenient 'rubbing posts'." He said several stones of the Bronze Age Tregeseal Circle, some three miles away, had been destabilised in a similar way when cattle were introduced in 2009. Mr McNeil Cooke added: "It is obvious that the experience at Tregeseal Circle is being repeated at Men-an-Tol and that it is only a matter of time before damage is caused to this most famous and, arguably, most frequented ancient site in the Land's End Peninsula."
     A spokesman for English Heritage said the stones were set in concrete in the 1940s and reset in 1993 in response to concerns about soil erosion around the stones caused by visitor pressure. He added: "We do not, however, expect cattle activity to cause damage to the stones or its setting, but will continue to monitor the site." A Natural England spokesman said: "We are aware of recent claims that the presence of grazing cattle in the area risks damaging the standing stones at Men-an-Tol. We are working with English Heritage to look into these claims and to ascertain whether there is any need to review grazing management for the area."

Edited from The Cornishman, This is Cornwall (3 April 2013)

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