‘Artefact’ for sale on eBay

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POLICE are investigating after a piece of rock said to have come from the historic abbey ruins, in Bury St Edmunds, was put up for sale on auction website eBay.

The sale of the rock, which has an opening price of £50, comes in the same week that scaffolding was removed from the crumbling Abbey Gate, which has undergone repairs after suffering frost damage.

The item has been placed on eBay with a ‘buy it now’ price of £200.

The seller in his or her online description of the item said: “This is a piece of the foundations of The Abbey at St Edmunds. The size of the palm of your hand. Very rare. Enjoy this little collection item.”

At the time of going to press it had no bids.

David Nettleton, who stood for re-election in yesterday’s elections, reported the matter to the police. He said: “In my view it is possible theft. We don’t want bits of our heritage taken away. Bury is not for sale and neither are our ruins.”

A spokewoman for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which owns the Abbey Gardens, said: “We are horrified.”

The abbey is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is looked after by English Heritage.

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. Deliberate acts of damage or vandalism are illegal and we take them seriously.”

The sale comes in the same week that the borough council removed scaffolding from around the Abbey Gate, the main entrance to the Abbey Gardens.

The scaffolding had been put up just before Christmas after small pieces of masonry fell from the 14th century gate.

English Heritage employed specialist contractors to repair stone work damaged by frost.

It will also put up wire fencing beneath part of the gate in case there are still any loose fragments of stone.