Stolen 18th Century Milestones Recovered

20 April 2015, 09:58 | Updated: 20 April 2015, 10:00

Two 18th century milestones stolen from Hertfordshire have been recovered.

Milestones have been placed along major routes since the Roman times and indicate the direction of the next habitation or major town or city. The theft of a milestone is classed as a heritage crime.

Heritage crime is any offence which harms heritage assets.  It can include architectural theft, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, unauthorised excavation and metal detecting, damage caused by vehicles, metal theft or theft of historical and cultural property.

The first stone, which is 5ft 8ins in height, was taken back in 2012, between August 1 and 10, from the A5183 close to the Punchbowl Lane turning. This was discovered by a member of the public in Dodds Lane, Hemel Hempstead on Friday morning.

A few hours later and around just over six miles away in Barnes Lane, Kings Langley, a milestone stolen from Watling Street on the A5183 St Albans Road in Redbourn, immediately opposite to The Chequers Pub between March 15 and March 27 this year, was found by a member of the public.

Both have been recovered to a place of safety and will be placed back in their rightful place at some point in the future.

Another crime has also been discovered of the attempted theft of a milestone opposite the Hertfordshire showground, in a similar area where the others were taken. It is believed this would have happened in March and the offender(s) attempting to take it have used something tied around it to try and pull it from the ground where it is embedded.

Sergeant Tom Fisher, who has been investigating, said: "Appeals have been made to help trace both of these important items of local heritage and I am grateful to those members of the public who have played a vital role in recovering them, and the media for publishing our appeals.

"I would like to make further appeals however, to members of the public who may have been in the areas where these two milestones were found overnight Thursday, April 16 into Friday, April 18 and saw anything suspicious. Both of the milestones are extremely heavy and would have needed a vehicle to move and a number of people or equipment to lift them."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sergeant Fisher via the police non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference number F2/15/430. Alternatively call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, on 0800 555 111.

Help Protect Hertfordshire's Heritage Sites

In April 2014, Hertfordshire Constabulary launched Heritage Watch - a scheme which aims to protect the county's thousands of historical sites, monuments and artefacts from heritage crime.

Offences have become more prevalent in recent years as criminals have turned their attention to metal theft and the illegal trade of assets. Putting right damage caused to heritage assets can lead to repair bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Through Heritage Watch, the Constabulary hopes to protect our heritage by improving communication between people who live near these sites, those who have an interest in the county's history and the police.

Chief Constable, Andy Bliss said: "It's so important to protect Hertfordshire's historical and cultural assets for future generations.

"People who live close to historical sites and those who have an interest in our local history tend to frequent the county's heritage sites more often and are more likely to notice anything suspicious.

"Through joining up, we hope the public will become the 'eyes and ears' of these precious sites and artefacts and will report anything suspicious to us."