BURGLARS have stolen valuable five 17th century staddle stones from a village garden near Winchester.

The stones, which used to support grain stores to prevent rats getting in, could be worth £500 each, said their owner Heather Ingham who lives near Hursley.

She said: “We feel pretty devastated. We have lived in this house over 40 years and we bought them not long after we moved here.”

Mrs Ingham said three weeks ago she noticed a man wandering around her garden.

“My husband Steve went out and asked him what he wanted. His reply was ‘I was checking to see if you had any tree damage’. We were a little suspicious as several people in our village have had garden ornaments stolen. We reported him to the police.”

The stones were stolen last Wednesday night.

They are about 80cm (2ft 8inches) high and 50cm (1ft 8inches) wide. They are extremely heavy.

Mrs Ingham added: “We have had these staddle stones for nearly 40 years and so we are very sad to have had them stolen. They belonged to Mr. A. H. Wilkie Cooper at Merdon Manor from where I bought them, and so they have a lot of local history.”