AN ICONIC 5,500-year-old monument in north Pembrokeshire has been damaged by vandals.

Graffiti has been painted on the Pentre Ifan Neolithic burial chamber near Nevern, and police, and officers from the National Park Authority and Welsh Government historic environment service Cadw, are investigating.

The graffiti takes the form of a heart and Celtic spirals.

PC Esther Davies, of the Dyfed-Powys Police rural crime team, said: “We are saddened by the vandalism to the Pentre Ifan burial chamber. This is one of the most famous prehistoric sites in Wales, and it is unacceptable that someone has done this.

“Not only have they damaged the monument, but they have caused significant damage to the lichens growing on the stones.

“Cadw is working closely with us, and will be dealing with the removal of the paint.

“We would urge anyone who has information about the culprit to contact the Rural Crime team by calling 101.”

Patrols are being carried out by officers, in partnership with Cadw and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, at other sites of historic importance to ensure no further damage is caused elsewhere.

Inspector Roger Smith, Heritage Crime Liaison Officer, said: “We take heritage crime such as this very seriously within Dyfed-Powys.

“Pentre Ifan is a scheduled ancient monument of immense national and international significance, and we are investigating the damage to it as a priority.

“We are working closely with our colleagues from both Cadw and the National Park Authority. We are currently piloting a proactive Heritage Watch programme within the National Park, where police officers and PCSOs, together with Cadw wardens and National Park Rangers, are patrolling heritage sites in order to prevent damage and antisocial behaviour.”

This isn’t the first time historic monuments in the Preselis have been damaged.

Back in the summer, an alleged ‘pagan ritual’ caused fire damage at the Gors Fawr stone circle near Mynachlog-ddu.

The ritual was believed to have taken place between important pagan dates Beltane and the summer solstice.