Priddy Stone Circles vandal, 73, ordered to pay £10,000

Roger Penny (r) leaving Taunton Crown Court Roger Penny has been ordered to pay £10,000

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A 73-year-old man who vandalised a 5,000-year-old stone monument has been ordered to pay £10,000.

Roger Penny, of Chewton Mendip, appeared before Taunton Crown Court after he damaged one of the Priddy Stone Circles, which is on his land.

Penny had pleaded guilty to charges, at an earlier hearing at South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates' Court.

He was fined £2,500 plus costs of £7,500, but has pledged to pay up to £40,000 extra to help make repairs.

Damage 'significant'

Recorder Jeremy Wright said that it was "sad to see a man of your age and good character before the court".

However, he said: "Your actions may have meant that significant archaeological information has been lost.

"Although some evidence may be available, its significance and value has been significantly diminished by the damage you have done."

Penny has agreed to pay up to £38,000, according to English Heritage (EH), to help put things on the site right again.

An EH spokesperson described the damage as a "major incident", adding the structure was one of only about 80 henges in England.

Priddy Circles - Photo: Peter Glastonbury The Priddy Circles are believed to have been constructed about 5,000 years ago

They said the loss of the fabric to the henge meant a "really, really rare piece of Neolithic engineering had been lost forever".

The damage included the destruction of a circular ditch which was completely bulldozed, and damage to the monument itself, the spokesperson said.

EH is still unsure whether the monument can be restored to its original condition.

In April, the court was told the damage was carried out between April and October 2011.

Magistrates were told work had taken place on land next to the B3195, known as Stable Cottage and Huntsman Cottage, which contained the southernmost circle of the monument.

Penny, of The Grange, Back Lane, Chewton Mendip, was charged in connection with causing or permitting work without scheduled monument consent or development consent contrary to Section 2(1) of the Ancient Monuments Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

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