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Saturday, July 3, 1999 Published at 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK

Eclipse 'invasion' fears over monuments

The solar eclipse will take place on 11 August

Police, councils and landowners have begun an operation designed to protect Cornwall's ancient monuments during the solar eclipse amid fears of an invasion by New Age groups.

Special report
Special report
11 August
The far south-west has one of the highest concentrations of prehistoric monuments in western Europe.

Some 30,000 acres near Penzance have been sealed off to stop New Age groups congregating at the Men-an-Tol monument on 11 August, and lanes leading to the stones have been blocked with large boulders.

Barriers are also being erected around the Merry Maiden's stones, on Viscount Falmouth's land, and the Boscawen-Un stone circles.

In moves codenamed Operation Obscure, Devon and Cornwall Police have advised landowners to block routes leading to their private land with boulders in an attempt to discourage illicit raves.

The police also landowners to organise an early warning scheme to alert each other about unauthorised campers.

'Kindness can be costly'

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "We have set up intelligence units with four other police forces in the south in the run-up to the eclipse.

"This part of the country always attracts New Age travellers, particularly after the Glastonbury Festival. We are expecting an influx of people but we don't have an idea of the scale.

"Landowners should put large stones in place in gateways and beware of requests to camp for one night because vehicles have broken down. Kindness can be costly.

"The more preventative steps landowners take, the better, especially if they are close to a festival site or somewhere used for illegal raves."

The first total solar eclipse on the UK mainland since 1927 will be visible across the whole of Cornwall and part of Devon on the morning of 11 August.

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