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Friday, 19 February 2016

National Park steps up pressure on "bluestone thieves"


 Ranger Richard Vaughan in the rain, up at Carn Menyn, holding some chunks of spotted dolerite that the stone robbers bashed off but failed to take away.......

There has been quite a bit of media coverage for the National Park's campaign designed to discourage people from collecting chunks of spotted dolerite from Carn Menyn and selling them on Ebay.  The BBC covered the story, as did the Telegraph, Mail and assorted other newspapers.  A typical report:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12164042/Stonehenge-tourist-bosses-demand-visitors-stop-chipping-stones-and-selling-them-on-eBay.html

Of course there is a considerable amount of nonsense in the reports, some of it encouraged by the contents of the press release, but it's hardly worth bothering about......... 

It's a matter of debate whether publicity of this type will actually reduce the amount of stone collecting from Carn Menyn (Carn Meini) or whether it will simply give even more people the idea that they can go up onto the mountain and collect "authentic" bluestone chunks that can be sold for large sums of money on Ebay and other trading sites.  In my comments to the National Park I tried to play down the "special place / revered outcrop / invaluable ancient heritage" theme by saying that there are plenty of perfectly splendid spotted dolerite boulders scattered about on farmland -- but the magical / mystical story is a key part of the National Park's bluestone narrative, and they can't resist using it whenever an opportunity arises!

Psst -- if you ask me nicely, I can get a nice bit of genuine healing bluestone for you, from right next to a healing spring, with a signed guarantee regarding authenticity...... at a very good price. If you aren't cured within a fortnight, just ask for your money back......

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Here is the full press release:

For immediate release                                  Thursday 11 February 2016

Appeal to stop Preseli bluestone ‘burglars’

The Preseli Hills have been a special and spiritual place for thousands of years and are a crucial part of the Stonehenge story.
But as news of their significance continues to spread, more and more pieces of Preseli bluestone are being illegally removed from sites which are part of the Mynydd Preseli Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Preseli Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Academics from the world of archaeology and geology have joined the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority in appealing to members of the public to stop taking fragments of spotted dolerite or ‘bluestone’ from protected sites such as Carn Menyn.
National Park Ranger Richard Vaughan 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 to many the stones are very important, yet to others they are a possible source of income and taken away from where they belong.”
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Culture and Heritage Manager, Phil Bennett added: “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.”
Although the debate over how the bluestones made their way from the Preseli Hills to Stonehenge rages on, all sides agree that protected sites such as Carn Menyn should be left alone.
Archaeologist Professor Geoff Wainwright said: “As an archaeologist, Preseli is of far greater interest to me than any single monument. Carn Menyn is a special place with dramatic outcrops of bluestone, a concentration of archaeological sites, healing springs and a scatter of abandoned pillar stones which are petrologically indistinguishable from those at Stonehenge. 
“The Preseli bluestones hold the key to the meaning of Stonehenge and Carn Menyn was a special place from whence they came. To take fragments from Carn Menyn is to violate a part of our heritage which has been valued for over 4,000 years.
“When a piece of bluestone is removed from the crags at Carn Menyn, unique information about the past is lost and cannot be recovered. We have all been robbed.”
Geographer Dr Brian John added: “The spotted dolerite at Carn Menyn is no more beautiful and exotic than the spotted dolerite seen in scores of other sites throughout eastern Preseli.  As far as I am concerned, we have at Carn Menyn a group of very beautiful dolerite crags, affected by ice and frost action, which tell us a good deal about the landscape history of the area and which contribute hugely to the beauty and special character of the mountain landscape.
“There is no reason at all why anybody would wish to chip off lumps of rock from these crags and take them away, doing severe damage to the landscape, since identical spotted dolerites are found abundantly in all of the hedgerows and gardens of the countryside to the south of the hills. There are a good many to the north as well.
“Please leave these rocks alone and leave the landscape as you found it. If you are really desperate for a piece of spotted dolerite, get it (with permission) from a farmed landscape well away from the hills, from a location where boulders and stones are being cleared from fields."

Ends

Caption: Evidence of chunks of bluestone taken from Carn Menyn in the Preseli Hills.
Caption: Professor Geoff Wainwright next to one of the bluestones at Stonehenge.
Issued by Medi George, National Park Communications, tel 01646 624867 or email medig@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk.

Notes to Editors
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are the most important sites for Wales’ natural heritage. They help conserve and protect the best of our wildlife, geological and physiographical heritage for the benefit of present and future generations. Mynydd Preseli SSSI is of special interest for its habitats, species and geology. It is also recognised as one of the very best examples of a natural heritage site in Wales, the UK, Europe and is accordingly also designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are important as they support plants, animals and habitats that are rare, declining or unique; they also protect the best examples of Wales’s geology. SSSIs are legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  All SSSIs are protected by law from unsuitable management, damage or other activities. Where an SSSI is being damaged, Natural Resources Wales will attempt to resolve the issue. If this is not possible, Natural Resources Wales can begin legal proceedings, which can lead to a criminal prosecution and fine.

3 comments:

chris johnson said...

About a year ago I was up on Carn Menyn and noticed several recently fractured stones, revealing the spotted dolerite patterns and bright blue inside. I confess I thought this was the result of the scientific enquiries conducted by archaeologists in search of healing springs and neolithic quarries.

A Gee said...

This must be one of the easiest crimes for plod to solve. Merely surf the internet and identify the sellers! Wondered where all the crooks, charlatans and scum who sell healing stones/crystals in Glastonbury had disappeared to lately.

The high street seems very quiet.

TonyH said...

"Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" was, of course, recorded by CRYSTAL Gayle, and was on her Album, "We MUST Believe In Magic".

I blame her.