The 3ft tall grey stone installed in Redbourn in the 1700s has ‘significant historical value’ and is believed to have been stolen last month.
Police are today appealing for witnesses and information after the milestone was stolen, some time between March 15 and March 27, from Watling Street on the A5183 St Albans Road in Redbourn, immediately opposite to The Chequers Pub.
The theft is being treated as a heritage crime. Heritage crimes can include any offence which harms heritage assets and can include architectural theft, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, unauthorised excavation and metal detecting, damage caused by vehicles, metal theft or theft of historical and cultural property.
Despite its significance, it has only recently been noticed that the stone, pictured here before and after the theft, is missing.
Police said the stone is extremely heavy and a vehicle would have been needed to transport it. It would have originally been installed by the Dunstable-St Albans-London Turnpike Trust around 300 years ago.
Milestones have been placed along major routes since the Roman times and are placed at strategic points on roads. They indicate the direction of the next habitation or major town or city.
Investigating Officer Sergeant Tom Fisher, said: “The stolen milestone monument is a piece of Redbourn’s heritage and is likely to have been in place for hundreds of years.
“We need to do all we can to ensure the monument is returned to where it rightfully belongs and I am appealing to anyone who may have seen anyone with a vehicle acting suspiciously in the vicinity during the stated times to please contact me.
“I’d also like to hear from anyone who may have been offered the monument for sale or if anyone feels they may know who could be responsible for this crime.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Sergeant Fisher via the police non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference number F2/15/430. Alternatively call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, on 0800 555 111.
The stolen milestone monument is a piece of Redbourn’s heritage and is likely to have been in place for hundreds of years. We need to do all we can to ensure the monument is returned to where it rightfully belongs and I am appealing to anyone who may have seen anyone with a vehicle acting suspiciously in the vicinity during the stated times to please contact me.Investigating Officer Sergeant Tom Fisher
Sandy Ross, who has lived in Redbourn for 35 years and has a real interest in local history, noticed the monument was missing and reported it to police. He said: “It is a real loss to the local area that another milestone monument has been stolen from Redbourn. The monuments are an important part of our local heritage and history. Watling Street was an old Roman road that later became the main road to London and the north West of England. There were originally four between St Albans and Redbourn but another one was also stolen a couple of years ago.”
Police are taking the opportunity to urge the public to help protect the county’s heritage sites.
The Herts Constabulary launched Heritage Watch this time last year – a scheme which aims to protect the county’s thousands of historical sites, monuments and artefacts from heritage crime.
Chief Constable, Andy Bliss said: “It’s so important to protect Hertfordshire’s historical and cultural assets for future generations.
“People who live close to historical sites and those who have an interest in our local history tend to frequent the county’s heritage sites more often and are more likely to notice anything suspicious.
“Through joining up, we hope the public will become the ‘eyes and ears’ of these precious sites and artefacts and will report anything suspicious to us.”
The public can sign up to become members at www.herts.police.uk/HeritageWatch