Bury St Edmunds: Criminal probe into Abbey ruins eBay auction
POLICE have started a criminal investigation after it emerged a chunk of one of Suffolk’s most treasured ancient monuments was discovered up for sale on eBay.
The palm-sized piece from the Abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds has been put up for sale by somebody in Liverpool and is listed as a “piece of the foundations of the Abbey” and described as “very rare”.
The 11th and 12th Century Abbey ruins in the town’s internationally-famous Abbey Gardens are a scheduled ancient monument and looked after by English Heritage.
The seller has started the auction at �50 and is willing to sell it for �200 on a first-come first-served basis.
The discovery that somebody was trying to sell a segment of the town’s heritage has left a number of people in the town seething.
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Suffolk police launched an investigation yesterday afternoon after they were contacted by the East Anglian Daily Times. A spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the ruins, said: “We are horrified that the fabric of the town’s heritage is being criminally offered for sale.
“We were made aware of this through a constituent on Tuesday and immediately contacted English Heritage.
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“Although the borough council owns the Abbey Gardens, it is part of a scheduled ancient monument under the jurisdiction of English Heritage.
“They have referred the matter to the police and it is now the subject of a criminal investigation.”
Risbygate ward councillor David Nettleton said: “People taking little bits off an ancient monument is disgraceful.
“There are serious implications if people are allowed to profit from an ancient monument.”
A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “We have reported the matter to Suffolk police for investigation.
“We would remind the public that Bury St Edmunds Abbey is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and that as such, removal of the fabric of the monument from the site is a criminal offence. English Heritage carries out regular visual inspections of the monument and any visible damage will be addressed as part of our planned and responsive maintenance programme.
“Deliberate acts of damage or vandalism are illegal and we take them seriously.”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said: “Suffolk Constabulary received a report from English Heritage at 1.36pm yesterday, of the possible theft of part of the fabric of the Abbey ruins in Bury St Edmunds. An investigation is under way.”
Nobody from eBay was available for comment when the EADT went to press.