Stone-stackers face jail for damaging historic UK sites

The Government is warning visitors to Britain's historic sites they could face jail for taking part in 'stone-stacking' after the practice was criticised by conservationists. 

Piles of balanced stones - dubbed fairy stacks or fairy castles - are appearing in growing numbers at many famous landmarks.

They are a common sight at the summits of hills in places like the Lake District and other countryside spots.

Piles of balanced stones - dubbed fairy stacks or fairy castles - are appearing in growing numbers at many famous landmarks. Pictured is a stone stack on a river bed

Piles of balanced stones - dubbed fairy stacks or fairy castles - are appearing in growing numbers at many famous landmarks. Pictured is a stone stack on a river bed

But Historic England said moving the stones was akin to 'rubbing out history' in many places and needed to be stopped to protect our heritage.

The warning came after a number of complaints about the practice at historic hilltops on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

The early Neolithic sites at Stowe's Hill and The Cheesewring are some 6,000 years old and have legal protection as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Stuart Dow and Roy Goutte, from Time Keepers, an amateur archaeology group, called for signs to be erected at the site explaining its significance and warning that removing the stones 'could see them end up in jail'.

'They may think they're being artistic, but they don't realise the damage they're doing,' Mr Dow said.

'Some of these may be lovely to look at, but knowing what they represent, I believe it's disrespectful to our ancestors.'

Historic England said moving the stones was akin to 'rubbing out history' in many places and needed to be stopped to protect our heritage. File photo of a stone stack on the seashore

Historic England said moving the stones was akin to 'rubbing out history' in many places and needed to be stopped to protect our heritage. File photo of a stone stack on the seashore

Time Keepers said simple signage should prevent any more damage and in the meantime, they have offered to remove the stacks are put them back where they should be.

'We don't think for a moment this is malicious, nevertheless it's historic vandalism and we have to try to stop it,' Mr Goutte said.

Stuart Dow, 67, from Launceston, Cornwall, was among those who reported the stone stacking at Bodmin Moor to the authorities.

What is stone stacking?

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