'Sheep damaged' historical Offa's Dyke monument

Offa's Dyke Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Offa's Dyke on Llanfair Hill, north of Knighton, in Powys

A farmer has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 for damage to an ancient monument which he initially claimed had been caused by his sheep.

Richard Pugh, 35, of Treburvaugh, Knighton, had blamed his livestock for the damage to Offa's Dyke on his farm in Powys.

He pleaded guilty to the charge of destroying or damaging an ancient or protected monument in December.

But on Thursday he also admitted his farm machinery had caused the damage.

Pugh changed the basis of his plea at Mold Crown Court and said quad bikes and the machinery had caused erosion to the historic path, which runs through farmland owned by him and his family in Knighton.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said the original explanation was "unbelievably ridiculous" but accepted the damage was reckless rather than deliberate.

He said Offa's Dyke marked the ancient boundary between the Anglo Saxons and the Celts.

"It was either to keep the Welsh out of England or the opposite, and I don't know why the Welsh would want to go to England," he said.

'International importance'

In January last year, a member of the public reported damage to the Welsh Government's historic environment service Cadw.

Richard Edwards, prosecuting, said: "Two wardens from Cadw attended the site and when it was visited on two occasions, in February and May, it was clear a section had sustained damage."

An opening had been created in the fence to allow access to another field and the section had become a "pinch point" for farm machinery and livestock to travel over, eroding the surface.

Matthew Curtis, defending, said the dyke had been reinstated at an overall cost of £2,150 to Pugh.

Judge Rowlands said: "This is a monument of national, indeed it doesn't overstate it to say international importance.

"Your actions could have meant very significant archaeological information was affected or could have been lost."

The judge ordered Pugh to pay a fine of £1,500 as well as £500 towards prosecution costs and a £150 surcharge.

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