Ireland’s Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan has condemned an act of vandalism on a 5,000 year old stone at the historic Hill of Tara in County Meath.
Police are investigating after vandals attacked the Lia Fáil standing stone at the world famous site.
Workers at the national heritage site believe the standing stone was struck with a heavy object.
Fragments have broken off the national monument and the damaged areas are clearly visible as white patches around the top of the stone according to the Irish Times.
Archaeologist Dr Conor Newman, chairman of Ireland’s Heritage Council, described the attack as ‘shocking’ in the report.
Dr Newman said: “This is shocking and it indicates the degree of trust you need when it comes to heritage matters in Ireland because so many of our sites are out in the open air.
“They cannot be policed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we rely an enormous amount on visitors to behave appropriately.”
The paper says the granite stone is some 5,000 years old and one of the main attractions at the former seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
Also known as the Stone of Destiny, it is said it will roar when touched by the rightful king of Tara.
An archaeologist with the National Monuments Service has inspected the monument since the attack.
He concluded that it was: “Struck with a hammer or similar instrument in 11 places on all four faces of the stone. It appears that the fragments which were chipped off have been removed as they could not be found.”
Ireland’s Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan said: “Vandalism is a mindless act. The national monuments at Tara, which include this standing stone, are nationally and internationally renowned.
“These monuments are a fundamental part of our shared heritage and history, and I condemn, in the strongest terms, the damage that has been caused.”