Left: the original damage to the Maiden Bower fort is thought to have occured before Christmas. © Colin Hüller / Manshead Archaeological Society.
Vandals have inflicted further damage on the Maiden Bower Iron Age fort in Bedfordshire.
English Heritage carried out an initial investigation of the damaged site near Dunstable on January 8, but have since been informed by the police of more damage, apparently caused over the weekend.
The original attack is thought to have occurred before Christmas when vandals used a stolen mechanical digger to damage earthworks surrounding the Iron Age fort and cut a number of holes from its centre.
Right: Maiden Bower has been described as the most significant Iron Age site in Bedfordshire. © Colin Hüller / Manshead Archaeological Society.
It is believed the damage was caused by off-road motorcyclists, who, according to local sources, have been using the site for some time.
"We can clearly confirm that there has been significant damage," explained John Etté, English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments.
"English Heritage are continuing to liase closely with the police with a view to resolving the unauthorised and illegal works and activities on the site."
Left: damage to a registered monument is a legal offence under a 1979 Act. © Colin Hüller / Manshead Archaeological Society.
As a registered national monument, anyone causing damage to the Maiden Bower site could face legal proceedings and a substantial fine if found guilty under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
Mr Etté expressed a concern that attempts by the owner recovering his stolen digger to fill in the holes made at the site could make it more difficult to assess the scale of the vandalism.
"Before he left he repaired some of the damage," Mr Etté explained. "Certainly we are going to go out and do some more detailed analysis, but now it is a situation more for the police."
Right: Maiden Bower in better times during the 1960s. Image courtesy of Bedfordshire County Council.
Measuring approximately 700 feet across, Maiden Bower is considered to be one of the most significant Iron Age monuments in Bedfordshire.
Speaking to the 24 Hour Museum last week, Barry Horne, Secretary of the local Manshead Archaeological Society expressed his anger at the damage: "I think it is scandalous that somebody should attack something like this, I'm not sure what we can do to protect it."
Although there are no plans for future excavations at the site it has been investigated on a number of occasions, yielding evidence of a significant Iron Age plateau fort built on top of an earlier Neolithic Causewayed Camp.