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Bosses urge visitors to stop chipping stones from the Stonehenge Monument

Ian Harvey

The Stonehenge Monument had 1.3 million visitors just in the year 2015. Visitors are allowed to take simple photos for their personal collections, but some are, sadly, doing more than that at a site thought to be the origin of the bluestone blocks used to build the well-known stone circle. Visitors are welcome, but not as much since some have been chipping away at the ancient rocks.

West Wales is located 140 miles (225km) from Stonehenge, and the tourism bosses have complained that the Preseli bluestones are disappearing at a terrifying rate due to the behavior of some visitors. In reality, they are thieves stealing rocks from the site since it was labeled as one of the possible sources of the Stonehenge blocks. The stolen rocks are then being placed on eBay for sale.

The polished stones are put up on the auction site for around £8. People posting the stones label them bluestones.

According to Phil Bennett, Heritage Manager of Pembrokeshire National Park, people are stealing more chunks of bluestone as the site becomes more famous. Archaeologists and geologists have been able to trace the origin of bluestone for Stonehenge, shifting historical focus onto Carn Menyn and leading people to steal chunks off the rocks to make them available for auction on eBay.

Bennett further elaborated on the issue by saying, “If somebody took a hammer and started bashing chunks off a bluestone at Stonehenge there would be an outcry. To me, what is happening at Carn Menyn is just the same. The vast majority of walkers go to the Preseli Hills to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the National Park landscape, and we would ask that people please leave it as they found it for others to enjoy.”

Scientists had been unable to determine the origins of the stone blocks used to build Stonehenge for quite some time. Part of the issue is that no materials are similar in the nearby area. The massive sarsen stones are believed to have come from Marlborough, which is about 18 miles (29km) north of this historic monument. In addition, 11 smaller blocks were identified and determined to have originated from the Carn Menyn in the Preseli Hills. These blocks are known as bluestones or spotted dolerite.

The Heelstone Source

The Heelstone Source

There have been some opposing opinions put forth by other researchers. They have presented evidence that the stones come from another hill about a mile away from Carn Geodog, and another called Craig Rhos-y-felin. However, in December, there was an interesting assertion made by archaeologists. They contest that there are no traces of man-made quarrying at either of these sites. This confirms that there is a significant amount of debate over the origins of the bluestone blocks. Plus, no one is quite sure how the blocks could have been transported from Wales to Wiltshire over 5,000 years ago.

The Stonehenge monument is heavily protected. However, the identification of the Preseli Hill as the potential source of some of the building blocks has unfortunately led to trophy hunting. Richard Vaughan is a park ranger at Pembrokeshire National Park. He said, “I walk the Preseli Hills with school groups, guided walks, and on conservation work throughout the year and have noticed over the years that an increasing amount of stone chips and large chunks of rock are disappearing. It is very sad to think that for many the stones are very important, yet to others, they are a possible source of income and taken away from where they belong.”

Furthermore, Professor Geoff Wainwright, who is also an archaeologist, believes the Preseli bluestones hold the key to the meaning of Stonehenge. He also feels Carn Menyn was a special place that the stones came from, which means taking fragments from there is a violation of a part of our heritage. This is a heritage that has been valued for over 4,000 years. Each time a piece of the bluestone is taken from the crags at Carn Menyn, valuable and unique information about the history is taken. It is lost and has no way of being recovered. In essence, everyone is being robbed.