Man Damages Stonehenge While Treasure Hunting, Posts Finds Online: Police

A man ended up being arrested after he used a metal detector to scour Britain's iconic Stonehenge site, before posting his finds on social media.

The 30-year-old man was taken into custody by Wiltshire Police in southwest England for damaging a protected monument, and the use of a metal detector in a protected place and taking items of archaeological interest, both without written consent.

In a statement, Wiltshire Police said another reason for his arrest was for the possession of explosives without a permit—they didn't provide any further details on this charge—and that he had been cautioned for the possession of Class B drugs.

Regional newspaper The Yorkshire Post reported that the drug was cannabis.

Stonehenge is one of the most famous groups of megaliths in existence—meaning a large stone structure that forms a monument.

UNESCO's World Heritage Convention says it's the most architecturally sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world and notes the precision with which it was built despite the sheer size of the stones. One of the stones weighs over 40 tons.

The most generally accepted interpretation of the purpose of Stonehenge is that it was a temple aligned with the movements of the sun.

Today people may book tickets with the English Heritage organization to wander among the stones for a certain amount of time, but touching them is restricted and they are protected under U.K. law.

In a police statement posted online, PC Emily Thomas, heritage crime officer in the Wiltshire Rural Crime Team, said: "We are fortunate to live in a beautiful county with many heritage sites.

"Unfortunately, these sites occasionally attract the wrong sorts of visitors who are intent on personal gain and disregard the law.

"Our heritage assets are protected by specific criminal offences to prevent the damage caused by unlicensed alteration and thereby diminish the enjoyment of heritage sites for others.

Social Media Posts

"On this occasion the suspect was identified when posting his finds and the location on social media."

The man has since been released under investigation.

Stonehenge has been at the center of controversy this year after the UK's transport secretary, Grant Shapps, approved a plan to build a two-mile tunnel near to the site.

The purpose of the proposal is to reduce traffic running along a nearby major road, but as the tunnel would run underneath the Stonehenge site the plan has caused concerns and the World Heritage Committee has advised that the plans should be changed.

The BBC has cited fears of "devastation" to the landscape, though it also cited Wiltshire Council's former cabinet leader Philip Whitehead as stating that the tunnel could provide a solution to "horrendous" traffic in nearby villages.

Stonehenge
A file photo of the Stonehenge site, which is located in Wiltshire, England. The site is protected by law due to its historical significance. Gabbiere/Getty