'Irreversible' damage caused as group 'remove artefacts' from 'haunted' Devon castle

It was reported around six people went to Berry Pomeroy Castle on Sunday 28 January with a metal detector. Credit: Google

A group of people have caused "irreversible" damage to a protected site at a Devon castle while removing archaeological artefacts, English Heritage has said.

It was reported around six people went to Berry Pomeroy Castle on Sunday 28 January with a metal detector 'under the cover of darkness'.

The site near Totnes was built in the late 15th century and became home to the Seymore family - to whom Jane Seymore, third wife of Henry VIII, belonged - in 1547.

It has long been thought to be haunted and boasts a rich history.

Win Scutt, senior properties curator at English Heritage, said staff who arrived on Sunday morning found numerous holes in the ground, as well as rubbish strewn across the site.

Around 10 patches of grass were found to have been lifted and put back, in a so-called nighthawking incident.

Nighthawking is the theft of archaeological artefacts from protected archaeological sites and areas, and is illegal. People found guilty of offences under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 can receive a substantial fine and be sent to prison.

Devon and Cornwall Police have released the following pictures and are appealing for information.

Anyone who recognises this person is being asked to contact the force. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Win Scutt said: “Damage caused to the archaeology of scheduled monuments by unauthorised use of metal detectors is taken seriously by the law and by the police, who are appealing for information.“The damage caused by unskilled digging of holes on a nationally important site like this is irreversible.

“We shall never know how much knowledge has been lost about the history of Berry Pomeroy Castle due to this disturbance of the buried archaeology.“Berry Pomeroy Castle was built as a defended residence of the Pomeroy family in the 15th century and later had a large Elizabethan house constructed within its walls.

“It is one of the largest and most impressive castles in southwest England.

“Because of this importance, it is protected as a Scheduled Monument and is also in the Guardianship of the Secretary of State and in the care of English Heritage.”

Pictures show damage to the castle grounds. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

PC Julian Fry said: This incident took place in the early hours of Sunday morning under the cover of darkness.

“We are currently working closely with experts from Historic England and English Heritage as part of our enquiries.“We would like to identify the person pictured as they may have valuable information which could assist us.“If you have any information, we want to hear from you. Please contact us via 101 or on our website quoting 50240022553.”