Farmer damaged Offa's Dyke with quad bike then blamed it on his sheep

Richard Pugh admits destroying section of ancient boundary between England and Wales

Peter Stubley
Thursday 18 July 2019 18:25 BST
Sheep on top of Offa's Dyke on Llanfair Hill north of Knighton, Powys
Sheep on top of Offa's Dyke on Llanfair Hill north of Knighton, Powys (PA Archive/PA Images)

A farmer who damaged the ancient monument Offa’s Dyke and then tried to blame his sheep has been ordered to pay more than £2,000.

Richard Pugh, 35, suggested livestock were responsible for a seven-metre-wide gap in the historic path marking the boundary between England and Wales.

He later admitted that the erosion to the earthwork, which is believed to date from the 8th Century, was caused by quad bikes and machinery at his farm in Powys.

Judge Rhys Rowlands described Pugh’s original explanation as “unbelievably ridiculous” during the sentencing hearing at Mold Crown Court.

“This is a monument of national, indeed it doesn’t overstate it to say international, importance,” the judge said. “It’s quite plain to me you would have known of that.

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

The damage to Offa’s Dyke was first reported by a member of the public in January last year.

Two wardens from the Welsh government’s historic environment service Cadw inspected the site on farmland near Knighton twice over the next three months.

“It was clear a section had sustained damage,” said prosecutor Richard Edwards.

Pugh had created an opening in a fence to allow access to another field, resulting in the dyke becoming a ”pinch point” for farm machinery to travel between fields.

Prosecutor Richard Edwards said an opening had been created to allow access to another field, resulting in erosion of the surface of the dyke across an area five metres long and seven metres wide.

Matthew Curtis, defending, said Pugh had paid more than £2,000 to reinstate the earthworks.

“This experience of being prosecuted and admitting guilt to this offence has come as a great learning experience and one which he has not always welcomed,” he added.

Pugh​, who pleaded guilty to the charge of destroying or damaging an ancient or protected monument in December, was ordered to pay a fine of £1,500 as well as £500 towards prosecution costs and a £150 surcharge.

During sentencing, judge Rowlands told the court that 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.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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