Villagers in Shenstone near Lichfield believe a piece of public art, stolen from the village early in August, may have been sold on for scrap.
The Shining Stone, by artist Jo Naden, is a small stainless steel sculpture, which was sited in a brook on the Lammas Land area of the village.
It was created as a response to the history and significance of Shenstone.
It was reported missing on 6 August.
Difficult to replace
The sculpture will be difficult to replace according to the chairperson of the Lammas Land Management Committee, Richard Partridge. He added he was “not sure if the finances are there to replace it”.
He says the chances of finding the piece are quite remote, and he believes it to have been sold for scrap metal.
Mr Partridge said the police and the artist, Jo Naden, had been calling around scrap metal dealers, in an effort to trace it.
The Shining Stone was created to lie in the Black Brook at Shenstone. The size of a breeze-block, it is engraved with the words “A flock of birds settle. The green field re-echoes where there is a brisk, bright stream”.
The name of the artwork comes from the name of the village, Shenstone, believed to mean “beautiful or shining stone”. It could be viewed from a bridge crossing the stream.
The bridge is on a north-south axis, a pole of conflict in Celtic symbolism, so the stone is placed in the opposite axis to create a harmony.
It was recently acknowledged in George Noszlopy’s guide to public art in Staffordshire and the Black Country.
Reward for return
Jo Naden is appealing for the return of The Shining Stone.
“It is crucial that we make an effort to find it as we should be able to put tokens in the places we love without fear of them being stolen. Acknowledging our ‘sense of place’ is vital.”
Ken Gardner, landlord at the Fox and Hounds in Shenstone High Street, is putting up £200 to try and help get the Stone back and has called on other local businessmen to help increase the reward. he said: “If a few more local people offer more cash it might just be the incentive needed to get someone to shop these thieves, or at least let police know where the Stone is.
“A lot of people thought it was a funny looking thing when it was first put in the brook but in the last eight years they have got really attached to it. For someone to steal it and then just have it melted down as scrap is terrible and I am keen to do all I can to get it back.”
Another local businessman has boosted the fund to £300 with a pledge of £100 to add to Ken’s £200. Colin Clark, who runs Shining Stone PR from the village, moved into Shenstone eight years ago and set up his PR agency in 2008.
“I actually named the business Shining Stone PR! So the least I can do is try and help get the sculpture back where it belongs,” he said.
County Councillor Ben Adams, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture said: “This stone is very important to the people of Shenstone, and it is essential that we find out what happened to the stone and hopefully get it put back in its rightful place.”
Anyone with any information is being asked to contact PC Steve Stackhouse at Lichfield Police on 0300 123 4455, quoting incident number 270 of 6 August, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.