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16 November 2008
Iron Age replica goes up in flames in Wiltshire

A suspicious fire has gutted the replica of a historic hut only two years after it was built. The Iron Age Roundhouse, located just off of the Barbury Castle site (Wiltshire, England), went up in flames after residents say yobs finally succeeded in their efforts to destroy the structure.
     People living nearby, who refused to be named, said they heard cars speeding from the site soon before the fire brigade arrived just after 10pm. Fire crews from Swindon and Stratton, who arrived at the site at 10.20pm, put out the fire. But they were unable to save the building, which was made from straw and wood.
     "Let's just say I am not that surprised that it has been burned down," said John Antoni, the owner of the neighbouring Barbury Castle Cafe. "The building was of historical value and was open to everyone. It used to show people how their forefathers used to live in days gone by, but now it is gone," he added. Chris Park of Acorn Education, who designed and built the hut, said: "It was a wonderful community resource that really brought the place alive.It just shows that the ill will of the people involved can spoil a site for thousands of people."
     The building was constructed in 2006 after the National Lottery granted the project 28,000. The hut was a scale replica of what a building would have looked like in the Iron Age the sixth and eighth centuries BCE. Volunteers who helped to create the structure used local materials, including wood from Savernake Forest, thatch from Marlborough and mud from the site. The site was open to visitors and also hosted events including those organised as part of the Swindon Literature Festival.
     Swindon Fire Station Commander Pete Townsend said he thought the blaze was started deliberately and said he wants to bring those responsible to justice. He urged anyone with information to call the station on 01793 401226.

Sources: Swindon Advertiser (29 October 2008), Heritage Action Journal (11 November 2008)

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