THREE pagans - two Druids and a witch - appeared at Swindon Magistrates Court last week.

They had gone to Stonehenge, stepped over barriers and then walked among and touched the stones. Two had also been singing in the ancient structure.

Conditionally discharging them for six months, the court told them, among other things, that uncontrolled access to the stones prejudiced the rights of others to enjoy them for the next few thousand years.

This might seem a strange decision to some, but perhaps the court and English Heritage, the organisation in charge of the stones, know something we don’t.

Yes, that’ll be it.

We can only assume there’s a vast body of research somewhere that says if you walk among, reverently touch and perhaps sing a sacred song or two in the vicinity of enormous great stones you’ll wreck them.

This might come as a surprise to we laypeople. After all, most of us have visited a cathedral or two in our time, and seen ancient stone stairs worn down only by an inch or so in spite of having been stepped on thousands of millions of times by people wearing anything from hobnail boots to suits of armour.

Some of us might reason that the odd reverent caress of a standing stone by a Druid or witch, and perhaps some singing, even if repeated fairly frequently, wouldn’t have any effect whatsoever for hundreds of thousands of years, if at all.

We are clearly wrong, however. I know that I, for one, shall now be very wary of touching rocks in case my fingers wear great big holes in them. I shall also avoid so much as humming a tune as I stroll down the street, in case every building in the vicinity falls down.

Fortunately, there are ways in which pagans or people who simply want to have a good look at part their heritage can avoid wreaking havoc at Stonehenge.

One is to attain high office in life. The presidency of the United States, for example, or the Prime Ministership of this country.

Doing so means wandering around the stones with a great big grin on your face, staging photo opportunities and exchanging badinage with a load of photographers and journalists doesn’t have any detrimental effect on the ancient monument.

Another way of avoiding causing damage is to pay £38.50 and take part in one of the occasional exclusive out of hours close-up visiting sessions.

As with becoming a senior politician, I don’ t quite know how ponying up a hefty sum prevents one from causing damage but it clearly does.

If you don’t have such a sum - and plenty don’t in the current economic climate - you could always just go and look at the stones. You’ll have to pay £17.50 for that.

There are those who might question being charged so much for a relatively decent view of something we all own, but I’m sure the folk in charge are doing the right thing.

Another way of avoiding damaging the stones is to drive around their vicinity in fume-belching vehicles, hold barbecues nearby and perhaps set up a load of stinking mobile snack bars driven by fossil fuel-burning generators.

This is clearly not in any way bad for the stones, as it seems to happen every Solstice.

Any claim of inconsistency in the way we look after this, the most ancient of our monuments, is clearly rabble rousing by disgruntled pagans.

The next thing we know, they’ll be suggesting that people with a religious love for the stones are hardly likely to vandalise them, and should be allowed to pursue their faith without coughing up £38.50.