Pagan Stone Circle Destroyed: Hate Crime or Mere Vandalism?

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Yesterday several British papers reported that a stone circle on Trinity Saint David University grounds in South Wales was damaged “beyond repair.” The circle had been used for years by the university’s Pagan Society, who called the destruction “heart-breaking”. The question now: Was it a religiously motivated attack, or simple vandalism? According to the BBC, University officials are not treating this as a hate crime.

Lampeter Stone Circle

Lampeter Stone Circle

Cen Powell, executive head of estates and facilities at University of Wales: Trinity Saint David, said: “We are aware of the situation regarding the damage caused to the site and are working with the Students’ Union to assess our options. […] “There is no reason to believe that this was a result of hate crime and would consider it to be an act of vandalism.”

However, this isn’t a unanimous opinion. Speaking to the Telegraph, police constable Richard Marshall noted the obvious religious connections to the site and its destruction.

Lampeter Pc Richard Marshall told town councillors at a meeting last week that the site had been “maliciously taken apart” and is now unsafe to use. “It is disturbing,” he added. “This is a place of worship. If this was a church I’m sure we’d be hearing more about it.”

This was far more than a few stones kicked over, the vandals apparently brought pick-axes and crowbars to demolish the site. That seems far more than drunken revelry or random hooliganism. In any case, it seems the university is not going to rebuild the circle, and is instead in talks with the Lampeter Pagan Society about finding a new site.

“We are looking to get a new space, but thanks for your best wishes. It has a 20 year history here and connects us to older students, but we are excited to be hoping to work on a new place soon.”

Meanwhile, outrage and calls of solidarity have been spreading through the Pagan community since the news of this event broke. It will be interesting to see if the vandals are caught, and find out what the motivations might have been for destroying the stone circle. Was it mere vandalism? Or could there have been a religious element? What do you think?