A PIECE of Stonehenge, which has been missing for more than 60 years has been returned.

A metre-long core from inside the prehistoric stone was removed during archaeological excavations in 1958.

Robert Phillips, 89, who was involved in those works, has decided to return part of it.

Last year, Robert’s sons, Robin and Lewis, travelled to Stonehenge and presented it to English Heritage curator, Heather Sebire.

English Heritage hopes the sample might now help establish where the stones originally came from.

In 1958 archaeologists raised an entire fallen trilithon - a set of three large stones consisting of two that would have stood upright, with the third placed horizontally across the top.

During the works, cracks were found in one of the vertical stones and in order to reinforce it, cores were drilled through the stone and metal rods inserted.

The repairs were masked by small plugs cut from sarsen fragments found during excavations.

The core will now join English Heritage’s collection of more than 500,000 artefacts and may help to uncover the source of the stones that form the instantly recognisable trilithons and outer circle of Stonehenge.

Salisbury Journal:

Heather Sebire, English Heritage’s curator for Stonehenge, said: "The last thing we ever expected was to get a call from someone in America telling us they had a piece of Stonehenge. "We are very grateful to the Phillips family for bringing this intriguing piece of Stonehenge back home. Studying the Stonehenge core’s ‘DNA’ could tell us more about where those enormous sarsen stones originated.

"The other two Stonehenge cores may still be out there somewhere and if anyone has any information, we’d love to hear from them."

Lewis Phillips said, "Our father has always been interested in archaeology and he recognised the huge importance of the piece of the monument in his care. It was his wish that it be returned to Stonehenge.

"We are all delighted the core has come home, particularly as it is now being used to further important research."