Farmer who blamed sheep for seven meter deep ditch in ancient monument branded "unbelievably ridiculous" by court

Telegraph Reporters
Lady Justice, holding scales and a sword, on top of the Central Criminal Court - PA

A farmer who busted a seven metre hole in a world-famous Welsh monument and then tried to blame his sheep was to blame has been ordered to pay more than £2,000.

Richard Pugh, 35, destroyed part of the historic Offa's Dyke - a protected 150-mile stretch of ancient earthwork along the border of England and Wales.

His excuse that his sheep were responsible for the damage was branded "unbelievably ridiculous," by Judge Rhys Rowlands.

The Judge told Mold Crown Court: "Offa's Dyke is a well known ancient monument. It has been there since the dark ages and there is very strong public interest in ensuring its survival in its present form.”

It is hard to believe Mr Pugh was not aware of the dyke’s historical and tourism value, the judge said. 

"Your actions meant that a significant archaeological site may have been lost,” he added. 

The court heard that damage to Offa's Dyke, which runs through Mr Pugh's farm in Powys, north Wales, was spotted by a member of the public in January 2018.

The farmer admitted that he had removed a hedge and fence to create a crossing point but blamed sheep for causing most of the damage.

He later admitted that his farming machinery contributed to the damage.

Mr Pugh, pleaded guilty to a charge of damaging an ancient monument and was fined £1,500 with £500 costs and a £150 surcharge. 

Matthew Curtis, defending, said his client had spent around £2,000 trying to repair the dyke.

"This experience has come as a great learning experience and not one that is welcome,” Mr Curtis said. 

"Mr Pugh now has a greater awareness of the importance of the dyke and knows what is required.”

Judge Rowlands said Offa’s Dyke was a monument of national “indeed international importance”. 

“It is quite plain that you would have known of that,” he told the defendant. 

Offa's Dyke runs 177 miles from Chepstow, Monmouthshire, to Prestatyn, Denbighshire, and takes its name from the Eighth Century Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia.

It is believed Offa built the dyke as a border between his kingdom and Wales.