AN ANCIENT monument is being neglected and is in danger of being damaged at the side of a Dorset road, it is feared.

The monument known as Broad Stone – thought to date from 2200BC – is believed to be vulnerable as it lies unprotected in grass close to the A35 between Dorchester and Bridport.

Former Dorset County Council archaeologist Laurence Keen said the stone was previously protected by bollards and the surrounding undergrowth was managed so that the stone’s full two-foot depth was visible.

He said: “The Broad Stone is arguably one of Dorset’s most neglected, overgrown and unappreciated prehistoric monuments.

“It is scarcely visible as it is almost buried in the south verge of the main road and the four black and white reflector posts were removed by the highways authority.

“The stone remains extremely vulnerable.

“English Heritage and the highways authority may perhaps be prevailed upon to correct the present circumstances even if this only means identification and regular maintenance so that the stone is clearly visible.”

The Broad Stone is nine foot long and four foot wide and lies on the south side of the A35, three kilometres west of Winterbourne Abbas.

The Broad Stone is registered by English Heritage as a scheduled monument, making it a protected, nationally important archaeological site.

Mr Keen said it is still not known if it was part of a bigger monument in a collection of stones or if it is a single fallen stone.

He said it attracted the interest of authors and antiquarians including John Aubrey, Charles Warne and William Barnes and letters from Warne to Barnes in Dorset County Museum illustrate an attempt to have the stone raised in the 19th century. Jerry Bird, editor of Merry Meet Magazine, which is about folklore and paganism and protecting pre-Christian heritage, is supporting Mr Keen’s efforts to preserve the stone.

He said: “There should be some kind of physical barrier around it as it is in a vulnerable position.

“Somebody could park on it as people don’t know it’s there but it should be more well known and visited.

“It’s important that we all take an interest in our heritage.”

Renee Fok, spokesperson for English Heritage, said the Broad Stone is registered as at risk. She said a report in the register recommended the monument be cleared and protected by some means before it disappears from public view and that it is completely compromised by heavy traffic.

She added: “Our South West team is liaising closely with the owner of the land to find a solution.

“This is a difficult case not only because of its roadside location but also because it is not clear whether it is a stand-alone monument or part of a bigger scheme of monuments.

“The latter would make its relocation problematic and undesirable.”